“Digital” skills? How these core skills can support a digital career

What skills do people need to be successful in the digital industry? 

With the launch of Liquid’s Graduate Program this year, as well as welcoming new team members recently, I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought over the past couple of months.

To be honest, initially I struggled to answer it. But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that the skills required for a career in digital are arguably the same core skills that benefit any career path. Because these days digital is the default, and just about every service, product or interaction has a digital aspect to it.  

Of course, craft skills are required for specific roles — designers or web developers, for example. But here are five key skills I believe anyone/everyone who works in digital should possess:  

Empathy – When we talk about human-centred design, or the human-centred design process, this is at its heart. The ability to empathise, think and design for people who often have different life experiences and constraints to us is a critical one. Because of the uniqueness of scale digital products often require, the solutions we conceive, design and build need to be easily used, understood and accessible to a wide cross-section of society. Whether we are designing a portal for uni students or a digital service to help elderly Australians, we need to consider and understand multiple user needs and scenarios – not just the obvious. 

Analytical Thinking – Thinking clearly and logically is another core skill – not just in 1s and 0s or decision trees, but the ability to take what can seem a complex issue (how do we connect Australians with the right digital mental-health services for them?) and break it down into logical components is a large part of what we do. Whether it’s designing online services or making sense of complex content or architecting backend systems, every discipline that works on a digital product is expected to think analytically and logically.  

Problem Solving & Creativity – I coupled these together because I believe they are two sides of the same coin. To truly solve problems, you need creativity; but I also think true creativity solves problems. Our difference is that creativity is in service of an outcome, not for creativity’s sake. Creativity in problem solving is a process of working out a solution by considering the resources and constraints you have. We get chosen by our clients to tackle their biggest problems, so we are constantly problem solving and developing creative solutions to achieve an outcome. 

Tenacity – Related to problem solving and creativity is the ability to be tenacious – or another way I like to put it is, “to be comfortable being uncomfortable”. While the end product of what we do can sometimes seem easy or obvious, we “do the hard work to make it look simple” — which is how one of our clients phrased it. This, I think, can get lost on people looking in from the outside. We call our team members “crafts people” because what they do is not production – it’s a craft. And with any craft you need to combine expertise with grit and determination.  

Passion – I truly believe you cannot do what we do without passion. Despite the happy faces you would normally see in our studio on any given day, it's not always fun and laughter, and it’s rarely ever simple. But the people who work at Liquid are genuinely some of the most passionate people I’ve worked with. They come to work to make a difference and do the best job they can do each day. It helps that we get to work on issues we care about, and projects that we believe will make a positive impact on society.  


Where does the magic happen, then?  

Perhaps what was more insightful as I thought about the original question was how Liquid brings people with these core skills together to create the spark that sets us apart. As I look around our studio I see people who are (were) artists, lawyers, dancers, journalists, yoga teachers, and financial analysts — I myself was a physiotherapist.  

There are transferable skills in just about every profession and having a team of people with diverse experiences, backgrounds, craft skills, or the core skills I’ve highlighted here, is what really makes the difference in what we do. 

So, if you have ever thought about a career in digital or how you might transition from what you're doing now, get in touch – I’d love to grab a coffee.