The 5 skills employers want now (and how to show them)

Skills have taken on a new focus in the world we’re in now. COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the way we work, where we work and which skills are valued.

If you’re looking to secure a new position, change career or grow in your current role, it’s important to know exactly what skills employers are looking for, and how you can demonstrate these skills in an application or interview.

Here are the top five in-demand skills according to two leading recruiters.

  1. Resilience
    “For me, the number one skill that’s in demand at the moment is resilience,” says Shay Peters, the managing director of Robert Walters New Zealand.

    Peters says the pandemic has presented challenges for many workers, so employers are looking for people who can try their best to adapt to different situations and handle setbacks.

    How to demonstrate resilience
    Resilience might seem like an intangible quality, but being able to identify and talk about your capacity to recover from situations and adapt is very valuable.

    “Use your experience of lockdown as an example,” Peters suggests. “What did you do? How did you stay productive? You want to show employers you have the skill set to deal with unexpected and challenging events.”
     
  2. Confidence using technology
    Being technologically literate has been important for many years, but many organisations suddenly had to implement new technologies during the pandemic. “To stay relevant, companies across all industries are seeking tech-savvy professionals,” says Nicole Gorton, a director at Robert Half in Australia.

    “Familiarity with tools such as teleconferencing, collaboration platforms, file sharing, remote learning and the ability to organise and deliver virtual events are now essential for many.”

    How to show your aptitude for technology
    Because technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, make sure you can demonstrate that your knowledge and skills are up to date. In an interview or application, identify how you use different technologies and how they assist your work (e.g. boost productivity, support teamwork or help streamline communication).
     
  3. Agility
    The pandemic showed us that the world can change dramatically and very quickly. When employers brought in different strategies to ensure their businesses were sustainable, they needed adaptable and agile employees.

    “Hiring managers are looking for employees who can be productive in an environment without necessarily having a blueprint, road map or written process to follow,” Peters says.

    How to demonstrate your agility
    “Teams and roles have undergone a lot of change, so mention how you’ve raised your hand for projects and tasks that are not necessarily part of your job scope,” Gorton suggests. “That’s a great way to highlight you’re a team player who adapts easily to change.”
     
  4. Proactivity
    Hiring managers are looking for employees who are proactive and have taken initiative in learning new skills or seeking out new opportunities. As it turns out, 38% of Kiwis learned new skills in 2020 that they wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for COVID-19.

    How to show that you’re proactive
    “In an interview, I’d be keen to hear about your achievements separate from your job description,” Peters says.

    “For example, did you pick up any extra projects or tasks during lockdown? What did you achieve during your down time? Being able to articulate this gives me an understanding that you didn’t retreat from work during the pandemic, but rather you made an attempt to be energetic and upbeat during a tough situation.”
     
  5. Emotional intelligence
    Having the ability to understand, manage and express your emotions is another key skill. Gorton says in turbulent times, it’s crucial that companies have employees who can respond appropriately to the emotions of others – whether it’s their manager, colleagues, clients or customers.

    “Being self-aware and able to connect with others are qualities that will help you land a job and grow your career,” she says.

    How to demonstrate your emotional intelligence
    You can show emotional intelligence in a number of ways. In an interview you can explain how you’ve taken the time to listen to the concerns of others. Discussing workplace challenges that you’ve faced, what you’ve learnt from them and how you handled them also demonstrates self-awareness and openness to growth.

While the world of work continues to evolve, being able to demonstrate these five key skills is an excellent start to ensuring you and your skills are in demand.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published November 2020.

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