Essential skills to help you thrive in an evolving marketplace

Graduates have a unique opportunity when they enter the workforce to decide what sort of career they want to pursue

It is less common now for an individual to have one job for the rest of their lives. Photograph: iStockphoto

Success is a subjective term but for many people a stereotypical image comes to mind of someone with perfectly coiffed hair and a freshly pressed suit walking through the office with a distinct air of authority. The reality is that success looks different on every person. Fulfilling their duties and staying in their role is exactly what some people want. Others determine to work their way up the ladder, continuing to take on more responsibility.

For those seeking career success, it is not a matter of luck: often, it is about hard work and making the most of the opportunities that come their way. Graduates get a unique opportunity when entering the workforce to decide what sort of career they want to have. Here are some of the things they can do and skills they can cultivate to ensure they reach their goal.

1. Adaptability

As the world around us changes, so too does the world of work. Jobs are created and jobs become redundant, and the people in the workplace must deal with these changes. Be it a development in ever-evolving technology, a new regulation or a change in the market, employees now more than ever have to be able to think on their feet and pivot to meet the needs of their role and the sector in which they work as these change.

According to estimates from The Institute for the Future, a US-based think tank, 85 per cent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. Paul Mullen, a career coach with, says this means that the jobs most of us will be doing then do not currently exist.


“So if you’re not adaptable you’re not going to be able to cope with that,” he says. “If you think of somebody in marketing, 10 years ago if a marketing person wasn’t social-media savvy they were nearly extinct. Now there is a new home, the whole Web3 thing, so people are going to struggle. An accountant who doesn’t know blockchain – very soon they will be out of date.”

2. Resilience

As a consequence of this constant change, it is less common now for an individual to have one job for the rest of their life. Traditionally people would finish school or college and join a company with which they would spend all their working days, right up to retirement. Now people are far more likely to change jobs during their career, sometimes by choice, at other times, not.

“Again, there will be change; there will be setbacks, jobs are ended through nobody’s fault,” says Mullen. “It’s [a matter of] dusting yourself down and getting back on the horse and getting back into the job market.”

Resilience is something we can work on, Mullen says. While it comes naturally to some, with others it needs to be developed, by doing stressful tasks or putting themselves in situations that have a risk of failure, he suggests. Success is about not being deterred and bouncing back from the failures that everyone will no doubt encounter throughout their working life.

3. People person

There is a lot of talk about machines, robots and automation. But at the end of day it is people who keep the world of work turning. One of the key things people in the early stages of their career can benefit from is familiarising themselves with the people around them. If you are a skilled networker, “you’ll never look for a job again”, says Mullen.

“Jobs will come and find yu,” he adds. “This is about building networking into your routine. You become a lifelong networker, not just networking when you need something.”

Social media has made this easier; many sites allow you to connect to people with whom you would not ordinarily interact.

“Social media such as LinkedIn makes networking accessible and easier for a lot of people. It’s about routine, it’s about engaging with people on a weekly or monthly basis both in the real world and in the social space too,” says Mullen.

Emotional intelligence is a term bandied about in the context of romantic relationships but it is also important when dealing with people in the workplace.

“You need to be self-aware, practice listening, to be alert and thinking about others and how they feel,” says Mullen.

He advises that people actively put themselves in situations where they can practice these skills, where they not only talk but also listen to colleagues and really absorb what they are saying.

4. Confidence

It is easy to come into a new job or career and feel like it is not your place to speak up. But being confident is an important part of your new role. The company hired you because its recruiters believed you could add value. Now that you have joined, it is time to prove them right. In Mullen’s view, in fact, you cannot have too much confidence in the workplace.

“Facing down fears, doing things that stress you – there’s a lot of doing things outside your comfort zone; all of these things, when you do them, they’re little things that add to the confidence tank,” he says. “When you’re confident, you’re more inclined to put yourself forward for things, to stand up and put your hand up.”

The more you do this, he adds, “the more you’re exposed to other people in the company and the more visible you are”.

This is no small thing because, as Mullen says: “The people who are thought of when opportunities arise are the people who are visible.”

So, it is important to speak up. Even if your idea is not taken on board this time, your peers will remember that you were interested in the topic, meaning you could still be involved with the project at hand.

5. Lifelong learning

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 states that two-fifths of the core skills workers have today will be disrupted by technological change by 2027. Half of all workers’ core skills will need to be updated every five years, it predicts. To be successful, then, people need to keep learning and upskilling. Education should not stop upon the completion of school or university, as Mullen points out.

“This doesn’t necessarily have to mean doing formal qualifications. You’ve got the university of YouTube – there are many ways to learn and upskill and stay sort of fresh in terms of skill and study,” he says.

Being tech savvy and becoming familiar with trends in your chosen area will also help increase your knowledge and chances of progression in the workplace.

“What’s the next technology?” is something you need to be asking yourself, says Mullen. “[Because] it’s going to be a part of everyone’s job – and more so in the coming years.”

So keep an eye on what is happening in the sector you’re working in and try to ensure you are on top of emerging technologies and skill sets to ensure you are employable no matter what changes come down the line.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times