It is often said that “skills are the professional currency of the 21st century”.
Yet, figuring out which skills to develop as a candidate or recruit for as a business might not always be smooth sailing.
In this instance, given the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis, both employers and employees need market intelligence on how their industries, and consequently, jobs will be impacted.
Supply and demand in many industries will shift (some temporarily while the economy recovers, others permanently), and as a consequence, many jobs will significantly change on a global scale.
As such, as we transition to a post pandemic world, now is the time to shift and focus on developing both the hard and soft skills that will make a difference.
We may not be fortune tellers, but as a global HR partner, we’re pleased to share our predictions and insights with you to get you started on the path forward.
We acknowledge that soft skills are hard to discern and assess during an interview process. Which is why we predict an increase in behavioural and psychometric testing to determine potential employees’ mental capabilities and behavioural style.
Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates’ suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude (or cognitive abilities). In short, they help assess if a candidate is “fit” for a role and organisation.
Now more than ever, businesses are set to be more cautious in their recruitment processes due to financial strain caused by the crisis. As such, data-driven insights are sure to grow in popularity, especially since a person’s resume doesn’t give employers a full picture of the candidate’s personality and abilities for a role.
Soft skills have always had a place of importance in a recruitment process. But moving forward, especially post crisis, they will play an immense role for both employers and employees.
On the one hand, being able to showcase desirable traits will go a long way towards hireability. On the other, making sure to hire or to keep employees who have those innate skills will go a long way towards driving motivation and resilience in a business.
Hence, developing (if you’re an employee) or looking out for (if you’re an employer) key soft skills could make or break your career or business. So without further ado, here are the top soft skills that are predicted to make a difference post COVID-19:
Adaptability & Agility
If the coronavirus pandemic has proven anything is that change can happen incredibly fast. The work environment that we all knew before 2020 is gone and will never be the same again. Many people are now working from home, others have expanded their workload or are now undertaking tasks outside of their usual scope.
Those who have shown (and will continue to show) great flexibility and who are capable of adapting quickly will be in high-demand in the future of work.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
An already well sought after skill pre-pandemic, the need for emotional intelligence is set to be on the rise post crisis. Indeed, the crisis has introduced the need for leaders to connect emotionally with their employees and develop empathy on a much deeper level than ever before.
In times of uncertainty, people are vulnerable which leads to a need for deeper connection and understanding. In order to properly support and guide teams, emotional intelligence is needed and is what will lead to successful recovery.
Individuals with strong EQ are set to be coveted by organisations of all sizes and in all industries.
We have seen time and time again that teams who have the ability to thrive on challenges and see failure as opportunities for growth lead to more resilient and successful businesses.
During the crisis, those with a growth mindset were able to shift and find new ways of moving forward. Whereas those with a fixed mindset have most likely taken a step back. Such behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed for managers who need to rely on people during tough times but also after.
Curiosity & Open to Learning
Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that “learning never exhausts the mind.” In a post-pandemic world, this quote couldn’t be more on point.
Strongly intertwined with the ability to be agile and have a growth mindset, eagerness to learn is a skill that will not only be required by employers but needed for anyone willing to stay in the job market or (re)enter it.
The good news is that governments worldwide have done their part to help their people upskill during the coronavirus crisis. In Australia for instance, TAFE led the way offering more than 20 fee-free short courses across a broad range of industries.
Having the drive to learn and upskill is a great skill to hone at any given time, but especially post crisis. If we had to pick but one skill to focus on or develop, this would be it.
Creativity & Innovation
Facing a storm no one was prepared for has forced businesses and their people to think outside of the box. Businesses which developed diversification strategies were able to shift their original products and services to fill an immediate need. This in turn has proven to be a much better tactic for weathering the storm than merely crossing your fingers hoping for the best.
Needless to say, without creativity and an open mind, those businesses would not have been able to shift in such a timely manner. As such, now more than ever, human ingenuity will be necessary to invent and dream up new products, services and ways of working.
This goes to show that creativity and innovation are valued and necessary, in times of crisis as well as in times of recovery.
Critical thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.”
During the corona virus pandemic, we have seen a spike in fake news and misrepresentations of data and studies, as leaders, businesses, and governments are trying to shift blame and divert attention and proper scrutiny. This made it incredibly difficult for people to know what and who to trust, creating mass confusion and distrust.
As such, it should come as no surprise, that those who can objectively evaluate information from diverse sources to determine what is credible will be valued. Since critical thinkers enable informed decision-making, those with this skill will be vital to business success.
For job candidates, the world we live in today is a ‘show me, don’t tell me’ culture. Employers want solid evidence and tangible value in hiring a new employee. On top of soft skills, they want (and need) actual and quantifiable set of competencies.
If you are an engineer for example, your set of hard skills include performing mathematical calculations, equations and testing. Hard skills are not confined to heavily technological positions though.
People-oriented positions, such as sales involve hard skills such as product knowledge, research analysis, lead generation, data mining, managing customer information, etc. These classified hard skills enable both the engineer and salesperson to perform their respective job duties.
In a post COVID-19 world, it’s crucial to develop and recruit the hard skills that will have an impact on the future of business. These include but aren’t limited to:
The 21st century is characterised by its revolutionary digital innovations and the rapidity at which new technology arises. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic was still able to prove that this momentum could be accelerated further.
From online homeschooling, remote working, telemedicine and so on, we’ve learnt that digital skills are at the forefront of everything and are crucial to preparing for the future.
But what are digital skills exactly? We personally define them as the ability to learn, understand and use digital platforms and applications. This includes but is not limited to chat platforms, social media, as well as smart tech among other things.
Considering we are set to move towards an innately digitally intertwined world (and workplace), there is no doubt that people with digital skills will have a much better chance of getting hired and retained.
In light of the digital revolution mentioned above, technology will enable businesses to build resilience to future outbreaks and disruptions.
In addition to this, workforces that have shifted to remote working during the pandemic are very likely to continue doing so in the long run, whether partially or not. This means that having employees who are comfortable using technology to their and the company’s benefit will be key.
In this context, regardless of your industry or role, technology is here to stay and enhancing skills in accordance is recommended.
Businesses looking to future proof their operations will be looking into artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, as well as robotics to name but a few. As such, investing in developing skills in these areas will be of great value.
Data Analytics & Literacy
As the fuel of the 4th Industrial Revolution, data is a critical asset for every business. In a world that has never been so connected, data is overflowing and trends are being analysed daily to help leaders make informed decisions about the future. As such, those gifted with data literacy will be of great value to any business moving forward.
Security & Governance
With the working from home movement due to the coronavirus outbreak not winding down anytime soon, this could create security gaps for businesses that don’t have the right expertise in place to handle IT security and governance.
Security has arguably never been more important as employees access sensitive applications from home or as more businesses move their data off-premise and into the cloud.
Many businesses will be focusing on security, privacy, and governance in a post-COVID world, if they haven’t started already, which will lead to more jobs in this area.
The Great Resignation has seen the role of HR professionals rise to new heights. Particularly, in C-suite and managerial positions, an HR background is becoming favourable, and in some cases, mandatory. In a candidate-driven market, companies need employees who can help the company recruit, retain, and develop staff.
Developing staff is particularly important. Firstly, many candidates wish to work in companies that let them grow and up-skill. Secondly, from an employer perspective, internal succession planning is more convenient for the company, than hiring externally.
Many businesses in an effort to retain and attract staff, will be seeking employees, especially for leadership roles that have experience and / or qualifications in HR.
Although it seems the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, the upcoming months (and perhaps years) will not be easy for businesses and job seekers alike. This is mostly because beyond the economic impact the crisis has had across the globe, it has also drastically transformed the employment & business market. So much so that it is very hard to predict what the future holds.
As such, the best you can do to prepare for the future is invest in learning and self-development. In the case of a business, now is also the time to determine which skills your employees will need to help you build up again.