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Here are 5 skills researchers say employers are looking for right now

The equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs have been lost globally since COVID-19 hit, according to the International Labour Organization. Manufacturers, airlines and retailers have announced redundancies in the thousands. The young have been particularly hard hit.

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, August 21, 2020

In the US, businesses added 1.8 million jobs in July, albeit at a slowing rate. China’s employers are hiring too. Rising retail spending in eurozone economies might also create more jobs.
In the US, businesses added 1.8 million jobs in July, albeit at a slowing rate. China’s employers are hiring too. Rising retail spending in eurozone economies might also create more jobs.

By Harry Kretchmer*

But bright spots are emerging. In the US, businesses added 1.8 million jobs in July, albeit at a slowing rate. China’s employers are hiring too. Rising retail spending in eurozone economies might also create more jobs.

Who’s hiring – and what do they want?

In the US, many clothing, home furnishings and gadget retailers are recruiting, according to Bloomberg. LinkedIn says young graduates, who have been hit hard, could aim for more than 1.5 million entry-level jobs and 65,000 internships in the US alone.

The social network has analysed its data to identify the skills employers want most and how you can use them to raise your game. It says interpersonal “soft” skills (versus “hard” skills – abilities developed over time, like coding) are the most prized. This reflects previous research by organisations including Deloitte, and the World Economic Forum, which investigated the skills that will be needed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in its Future of Jobs Report.

Here’s a deeper look at five in-demand skills:

1. Communication

This is top of the wish list for many employers. It’s great if you can code – but can you express yourself too?

As work guide Career Contessa puts it: “Have you ever had a manager who refused to listen? Have you ever worked with someone who could not pick up on social cues; someone who didn’t know when to be sociable and when to power down to work? Have you ever worked with someone who used a ton of office jargon in order to say… seemingly nothing?”

Because COVID-19 has increased the adoption of remote-working software, the need to strike the right tone of voice has, if anything, increased – not just for employees, but for employers too.

LinkedIn says it’s not just verbal cues that recruiters are looking for, but “digital body language”. Are you making the right impression with the tone you adopt in emails and texts?

2. Problem solving

Forget team-building exercises that involve building a bridge with a pair of styrofoam cups and a piece of string. Problem solving is much more than that.

It’s about identifying a task, breaking it down into its components, and fixing it, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. It’s about the skills around it, like sticking with the task and doing your research. And just like clear communication, it’s seldom been more vital.

There are many examples of businesses thinking differently about their problems during COVID-19, as the has crisis forced changes in everything from management to business models.

3. Analytical skills

“It’s an important time to be thinking critically,” says executive coach Joshua Miller. “Your actions are based on the types of questions you ask yourself and others on a daily basis.” Could they change the type of answer you get?

Businesses everywhere are facing and making tough choices, from budgeting to changing headcount. What’s clear is that evidenced, focused thinking can help at every level of an organization.

4. Customer service

Regardless of the industry you’re targeting, from senior to junior level, you need to create a positive experience for those who, ultimately, pay your wages.

Retailers have been at the sharp end of this need during lockdown, expanding or pivoting to online, in order to serve customers stuck at home – often with transformative results.

Professional services firm KPMG says COVID-19 has been rich with lessons in how great customer service can make a difference. Taking China as an example, it says that the secret to successful e-commerce during the pandemic was not just speed, but safety. “In times of uncertainty and crisis, people want information they can trust.”

5. Leadership

Is leadership all about the C-suite? Executive advisor Gartner says there are useful leadership lessons that anyone, at any level, can benefit from. These include being able to make a clear list of your priorities, in order, and not thinking in a binary way; there are rarely only two choices in a tough situation.

Harvard Business School professor Bill George says he prioritises being “authentic.” Leaders “bring people together around a passion, for a common purpose, to make this world a better place.”

 

*Senior Writer, Formative Content at the World Economic Forum

**First published at weforum.org

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