While technical ability, industry knowledge and training are important, the pandemic has proven that skills with a human element are vital to thrive in this changed working environment. 2020 was a challenging year that forced companies to do things differently, and consequently it changed what hiring managers really care about.
“Undeniably, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the hiring process for both job seekers and recruiters alike, which our data confirms by uncovering what’s newly important in one’s candidacy,” said Amanda Augustine, TopResume’s career expert, certified professional career coach (CPCC), and certified professional resume writer (CPRW).
“Our findings reveal that job seekers may be taking themselves out of the running even before — or right after — the virtual interview because they’re ignoring the key factors to which recruiters are suddenly paying attention.”
What helps candidates stand out from the rest are known as soft skills. The new normal includes a lot more remote work, and that means that soft skills are more important than ever, with some rising to the top of recruiters’ wish lists in 2021.
While there is an abundance of soft skills that are worth noting, here are the top five soft skills that employers are looking for in 2021:
Perhaps the most paramount soft skill of 2021 will be adaptability, having a growth mindset. With many organizations now implementing different approaches to the working environment – be that full-time office work, a flexible approach of both office and remote working, or a completely remote environment – being able to adapt to these different setups will allow you to be continually productive in your role. Think about ways you’ve had to adapt to in the past and be prepared to showcase how well you can go with the flow during your next interview.
2. Communication Skills
As a result of the pandemic many organizations moved to completely remote working environments and are beginning to settle into a hybrid working model. Now that most communication is done through emails, chats, video, or phone conference calls, strong communication skills are more critical than ever.
3. Collaboration and Teamwork
When taking about the future of work and the ‘remoteness’ of it all, many mention the loss of the ‘water cooler’ moment. The lack of an office environment takes away the traditional team structure, this means that individuals must work even harder to implement team culture into a remote working environment. Having strong teamwork skills will help to cement this team structure and enable team members to work effectively together.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you can think empathetically about the people around you and the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace.This is another soft skill that has taken on new meaning for 2021. Stress, grief, and frustration are abundant as we try to work through the pandemic. From new work-from-home challenges to lost loved ones or other pandemic issues, having the ability to read the emotions of your co-workers and respond with compassion is essential. In fact, one survey by CareerBuilder reported that 71 percent of employers value emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ, while 75 percent are more likely to promote an employee with higher EQ (emotional quotient) over someone with higher IQ.
5. Creative Problem Solving and Innovation
The last thing an employer wants is an employee who sees a challenging situation or new task and says, “Wow, I don’t know what to do here.” Instead, they want to know that you can think logically and creatively to develop solutions to the problems or obstacles that come up in your role.They also hope you’ll help to come up with new ideas as well as addressing existing problems. And the more creative, the better; that kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.Think of your soft skills as the accessories to your training in your field. They alone cannot qualify you for a job, but when paired with solid credentials, they can make you a much more attractive candidate. As you review your soft skills, keep in mind how 2020 has changed the playing field and highlight those that will help you shine in the “new normal” work environment.