If you’re looking for a new job, you’re likely to encounter job descriptions and requirements that are markedly different from postings before the COVID-19 pandemic. The bad news is that you may fear you do not have all the skills today’s employers want. The good news is that most candidates are in the same boat. In fact, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases, says the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report. Even better news: There is a good chance that your potential — rather than a degree or specific background — will get you the job you want. That’s because many employers are valuing soft skills and are willing to make the investment in developing their employees’ hard or technical skills after they’re hired.
What Employers Are Looking for Now
According to Gartner data on millions of job postings, the skills landscape is constantly changing. Their analysis shows the number of skills required for a single job is growing 10% every year. Meanwhile, more than 30% of the skills that were needed in 2017 will soon be irrelevant. For example, 83% of job postings on LinkedIn from June to July 2020, required at least one or more of the following skills:
— Business management.
— Problem solving.
— Data science.
— Data storage technologies.
— Project management.
[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2021.]
How to Develop Your Skills
What if your work history doesn’t include one or all of the skills above? And what if you’re new to the job market and don’t have any skills built up yet? You’re not alone: Gartner research found only 16% of new hires have the skills needed for current and future jobs.
That’s why more and more employers are stepping up educational programs to equip the workforce with the skills needed today. Look at Microsoft, for example. In June, the company launched a global skills initiative that aims to train up to 25 million people globally for in-demand roles by the end of this year. Microsoft offers free access to training on LinkedIn Learning, GitHub Learning Lab and Microsoft Learn, as well as free job-seeking tools and low-cost Microsoft certifications.
For other options, check out free content at Udemy, including both technical and personal productivity courses. Grow with Google offers certifications, skill-building courses, job-seeking tools and other assistance. According to LinkedIn, completing online professional skills courses, and adding them to a LinkedIn profile, increases your chances of being spotted by an employer or recruiter by 27 times.
[See: 25 Best Jobs That Pay $100K.]
Highlight Skills on Your Resume
Yes, it’s a difficult job market. But you can still catch the eye of a prospective employer by spotlighting your strengths and abilities — even without much professional experience. Create a resume that, from the outset, tells who you are and what you have to offer.
A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests the best place to start that narrative is right underneath your name and title. Highlight the top skills employers are looking for today, including project management, communications and flexibility. You should also be sure to include a detailed list of your technical skills, such as proficiency in Microsoft apps (Excell), collaboration tools (Google Drive or Microsoft Teams), videoconferencing technologies (Zoom or Skype) and other software.
If you are a new entrant and don’t have any professional experience, highlight soft skills you honed through your college projects, papers and other academic achievements. Think about what kind of skills you employed. Perhaps it included managing communications, project management or teamwork skills.
Consider some of the following soft skills to discuss:
— Critical thinking.
— Attention to detail.
Talk Soft Skills Along the Entire Journey
Because employers are so eager to find qualified candidates, stay on message about your soft skills. In a presentation for the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2020 Talent Virtual Experience, Susan Collins, the director of talent acquisitions and employer branding at Talbots, encouraged hiring professionals to “make soft skills part of the employee journey” during the selection process. If you get beyond the application, consider that your prospective employer will be looking for your soft skills everywhere — not only on resumes, CVs and cover letters, but also during your interview and in feedback from the references you provide.
Prepare Your References
Remember to choose your references wisely. They should be people who have direct and positive work, volunteer or academic experience with you. Before your prospective employer reaches out, tell your references about the soft skills you’ve highlighted in your resume, cover letter and during your interview. Ask them to focus on feedback that showcases how you’ve exhibited those skills. Find out whether the employer will be conducting telephone or online reference checks and make sure your references are available to respond — whether by phone or a survey via email or text message.
Skills Can Take You Far
A 2020 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report noted that “employers and hiring managers are preparing for a world where competencies — not degrees — are the most important factors when filling a job.” It surveyed 500 U.S. hiring managers and found 74% require candidates submit a credential when applying for a job. But only 26% said it’s used when they assess a candidate’s viability.
Finding a job is never easy. But hiring managers are super eager to find candidates with the right potential. Don’t let a lack of work experiences or academic credentials get in the way of showcasing your skills. Best of luck.
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