5 essential skills for job seekers in 2021

This article is authored and submitted by Peter Munnik, Director at ICML, part of the Career Money Life Supplier Community.

Over the last year, we’ve seen major shifts in all areas of our lives, including employment. 

Workplaces have changed, and so have the requirements for their workers. As such, the skills employers are looking for in a candidate has dramatically changed in the last year and is set to keep shifting. So how can we possibly be prepared for a role and present ourselves as the best person for the job?

Although the future is still uncertain, there are a few evergreen skills that will give you the edge in your job hunt. Here are the top five skills you need to sharpen before you make your next career move. 

Communication skills

This one probably isn’t a surprise for anyone who has ever filled out a job application or attended an interview. Effective communication is a mainstay of the job-seeking landscape (for good reason!) and it never hurts to brush up on your skills. 

Whatever job you want, communication skills are non-negotiable. You may think that as long as you aren’t in a customer or public-facing role that you can negotiate this, but the truth is that being able to clearly convey your point is a must-have skill. 

With collaboration on the rise in workplaces across the world, associated with higher performance, communication between team members is essential. Employers want to make sure that you play well with others and that you are able to listen and take in information as well as speak/write. 

Miscommunication can take a heavy toll on an organisation’s bottom line, costing thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions a year. And this doesn’t just include money: miscommunication wastes valuable time, resources, and can damage the overall reputation and culture. This is why it is so crucial to show your potential employer that you are willing and able to communicate, and improve your skills if needed. 

Technological ability

With Zoom, Teams, and other tech now being an intrinsic part of the way many workplaces operate, employers want to know that you are comfortable with using technology in your everyday workflow. 

This is where younger workers have the advantage with a far more innate understanding of the digital space, but don’t let that faze you. With the proper training and commitment to learn, anyone can become adept enough to utilise these platforms in their work. 

If you do not have familiarity with the technology your prospective employer uses, you should at the very least show a willingness to learn how to use it. Researching the technology or enrolling in courses that teach you how to use it may be a good place to start, demonstrating that you are passionate about the position and competent (or will be, with a little time and hard work). 

Critical thinking and problem solving 

As organisations face unprecedented challenges in the post-COVID landscape, employers will be looking for individuals who bring an innovative and pragmatic perspective. They want to see that you can go through a problem step-by-step, logically developing solutions. 

If you can address existing and emerging challenges — or even create new ideas that will improve the way the organisation works — you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd. Highlight your love of challenges and the ways you’ve worked to navigate hurdles and you’ll be sure to impress!

Resilience and adaptability

We’ve seen how volatile the world can be, and how it can impact organisations and their employees. Employers want people who can adapt quickly to both organisational changes, as well as larger societal changes, and come out on top. 

Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back, to take setbacks and stress in stride and carry on with the task at hand. A resilient worker is much more suited to the modern workplace, allowing them to survive — even thrive — in uncertainty. 

Growth mindset

According to Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, we can have one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their skills and abilities are inherent and stagnant. On the other hand, Dweck defines a growth mindset as the “belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.”

Essentially, this means that you are the type of person who believes that a set of skills can be honed with time and dedication and always seeks to improve. Those with growth mindsets are more likely to persevere through struggles and hardships, as well as learn from their mistakes and change course accordingly. They can see more opportunities, seek to learn from mentors and colleagues, and will enhance their capabilities as they advance in their career. 

If you have a fixed mindset, don’t fear — this can be changed. Some of the ways you can shift your mindset to be more growth-orientated include:

  • Recognise that you have a fixed mindset and embrace it
  • List situations where your mindset kicks in (certain tasks at work, certain skills/areas you aren’t as good at, etc.), allowing you to better identify your thought patterns
  • Take a moment when you recognise this thinking and challenge it

Not only does having a growth mindset make you more appealing to employers, but it also helps greatly with the process. Job seekers are often faced with rejection; with a growth mindset, each ‘no’ is one step towards a ‘yes’ and allows us to learn more about ourselves. 

How can I make sure I have the right skills?

While some people may naturally excel at certain areas, all of these essential skills can be learnt and improved on. You can find many online resources by searching for the skill you want to level up or opt for training courses that help you hone your skills. 

The training provider ICML has developed tailored virtual courses to help job seekers looking to enhance their employability. Below are some of their upcoming workshops that can help you develop the essential skills needed to succeed in today’s workplace. 

Communicating with Impact

Speak Up, Be Heard and Feel Confident

Presenting Virtually

Working Productively from Home

Resilience and Dealing with Change

To see the full range of courses and dates or find out more, visit ICML’s website or download the Virtual Course Directory. You can also sign in to your Career Money Life account to sign up for ICML’s courses.

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