If we collectively want to keep our jobs we must change the way we look at hard and soft skills. We have to find a way to redefine what they are, what is intensely human and what will remain our competitive advantage over the year in the advent of AI and job-threatening-robots.With research showing that less and less importance is placed on conventional intelligence and with studies indicating that it can actually be counterproductive at work to employ too much of one’s IQ while at the same time having organizations move away from formal education, what role does knowledge still play in this brave new world of soft skills and humanity?Professionals who attach a lot of their self-esteem to their intelligence will get bored easily, will get frustrated repeatedly and will feel less inclined to be truly engaged with their colleagues. What’s the answer to that? Should they all aim lower to fit in? Is playing dumb a success condition?We have enough trouble getting passion and courage into ourselves and our people – if we now decide knowledge is superfluous what are we left with?Sounds fairly counterintuitive and can seem alarming. The research in itself is inconsequential, it isn’t as if employees everywhere will read about it and feel justified in being even less intelligent or having less formal knowledge, but if the findings are correct, then it means there is indeed a climate suggesting mediocre is the new black.To add to it, there’s also research from the Carnegie Institute of Technology to say that only 15% of one’s financial success is linked to one’s technical knowledge. And that supposedly demonstrates it’s not necessary. In my opinion that’s disingenuous of a conclusion, to me it demonstrates how underrated and undervalued it is in today’s market -which ironically simultaneously claims they hinge every possibility of success on it- not its lack of necessity.The key lies in the definition of “knowledge” – if we confine it to formal education and conventional IQ then yes indeed it is becoming a hindrance in today’s work environment. In a sense, with the change of volume and quality of information and with the democratization of access to it, this is normal. If we add the speed with which technology changes and grows, having formal knowledge in the sense we have referred to it throughout the centuries is no longer even possible.As a reaction to this, companies have started veering away from the conventional path in terms of what type of diploma they require for some of their most skilled jobs and even arrived at shunning formal education in favor of much more relevant selection criteria.In the first instance, banks who are as conservative of institutions as they come in terms of hiring practices, have started hiring fewer finance graduates and moved towards technologists, international relations graduates or psychology majors. This of course, furthers their diversity goal and at the very minimum opens them up for new perspectives, but it is, in essence, a nod to how those trained in the respective disciplines are more likely to comfortably rely on softer skills.In more courageous examples, places like DBS who already showed they understand the importance of culture change, have built an AI capability to select people that doesn’t use their degree as a consideration and then there are the handful of places that have clearly made it a policy not to place formal education as a key hiring criteria such as famously Apple, Google, and Starbucks but now also EY and Bank of America.This is a departure from the conventional definition of knowledge is course amazing news to all of us who have been advocating intensely human attributes as the only reliable USP for the future and allows these companies to hire and keep the best talent.