Did you know there are more than 36 million people in the United States that are either unemployed or considering their next job move? It is no secret that the future of the economy is uncertain and there are many questions left unanswered as we embrace the “new normal.”
As the number of job searches continues to grow, there are some key skills that employers are looking for now. If you are one of the millions of Americans preparing your professional resume and entering the job market, here are the top 5 skills employers are looking for right now.
Many companies are asking their employees to take on additional responsibilities. One of the many is to adjust to entirely new schedules and try to strike a balance between on-site and remote work. As a result, when searching for the talent they want a candidate who is flexible. However, not someone who is only flexible with their hours or location, but also someone who is willing to learn and develop new skills.
When applying for a job in today’s competitive marketplace, it is important to highlight your ability to take on extra tasks and step-up-to-the-plate when needed. Emphasizing past roles where you have successfully managed change or undergone a transition to a new system or business process are both great ways to begin. But, being flexible may not be enough to set you apart from the crowd. How well do you handle stress? How well do work in a team environment? How are your time management skills? All of these are questions likely to be asked by a potential new employer.
2. Emotional Intelligence
It would be fair to say that we are all experiencing unusually high levels of stress right now. Businesses across the country are having to completely change the way they operate and interact with customers. Society is attempting to navigate a “new normal,” and life is simply much different than it was just a few months ago. In the middle of all of this, stress is a common theme in the workplace.
But, what does this have to do with emotional intelligence? While the definitions of emotional intelligence vary, people who have a high emotional quotient (EQ) are able to control their emotions and react to others with empathy. This is one of the skills that employers are looking for in such a stress filled and uncertain world. Employers seek those who are willing to help build a positive company culture. The world is going to continue to change and many challenges lay ahead. As the business world evolves, the most successful employees are going to be those that are able to see the opportunity in a crisis and foster positive relationships with everyone.
3. Communication Skills
Communication skills have always been an important part of being successful in the professional world. But, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely may now be more important than ever before. When most of the country was placed under quarantine and forced to work from home, many employers found out quite a bit about their employees.
Prior to the lock down, messaging platforms such as Slack or Zoom were seen as an added benefit as opposed to a necessity. However, once the work world went almost exclusively virtual and these tools became the primary means of communication for many companies, the lack of a clear strategy to utilize these platforms effectively became readily apparent. We’ve all seen videos of the countless Zoom mishaps and conference-call blunders over the last few months.
Moving forward, employers are going to want to see candidates that have an ability to communicate across multiple channels and fully leverage the resources available at their disposal to clearly relate a message. The ability to successfully communicate includes much more than the ability to use Slack or Zoom in a timely and professional manner, but in a digital world, employees who are well versed in these tools always have an advantage.
Speaking of the ability to use the latest business communication platforms effectively, there is no substitute for the value of a strong background in technology. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be an IT expert of cybersecurity pro, but rather have a sound knowledge of the fundamental programs that nearly all organizations use to operate. While there are a variety of creative and engaging platforms available to message a particular audience, over the years far too many people have gotten away from the basics.
In my experience working with employers across a variety of industries, they consistently find that there is a skills gap when it comes to programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. As simple as it may sound, a knowledge of these programs and the ability to organize and collaborate multiple documents and presentations quickly and efficiently is a necessary skill. In addition, online project management and communication tools are now standard in corporate America, so you will need to be familiar with them as well.
Employers want to see candidates who can put together a presentation and send out formal communication without any issues. When preparing your resume, including your ability to use different types of software is never a bad idea.
There isn’t a single person out there who is absolutely certain what the future of work will look like. However, we can be certain that having a group of employees who are dependable and reliable will play an important role.
When the business world went almost exclusively virtual, employees across nearly every industry had to suddenly transition to a remote working environment, often for the very first time. In the process of this transition, companies had to completely reevaluate how they measured their team’s productivity. As a result, many organizations discovered quite a bit about their employees.
Striking a healthy work-life balance, staying on task, and meeting deadlines with the same accuracy is going to be a continual challenge for the entire workforce. Employers want to see more workers who are dependable. Do they respond to communication in a timely and professional manner? Do they meet deadlines with consistency? When the “new normal” is established, will they be available? These are all questions to which employers want the answer to be a resounding, yes.
It is no secret that entering the job market can be a tiresome and stressful process. As millions of Americans look for employment, in some cases for the first time in years, employers are going to have a fresh perspective on the skills they are looking for.
The future of work is going to look much different and those job candidates who are flexible, have high levels of EQ, consistently communicate, utilize their tech skills, and show dependability will likely have a much higher chance of success.