The way we work, interact, and manage time has all shifted dramatically since March 2020. The advent of mass working from home and wider changes brought about by Covid-19 has led to a shift in certain skills that are valued by employers.
So, it’s important to be aware of the traits that companies will be looking for and how to show your transferable skills in an application or interview.
Generally, you can break down a skill-set into soft and hard skills.
Hard skills: These are more technical abilities that may be more directly related to the role. They are ones that you are not born with but are teachable and measurable abilities. For example, computer programming, writing, analytics, and languages.
Soft skills: These are the abilities that make a well-rounded employee and team player such as communication, listening and leadership. Although not directly measurable, they are highly valuable for integrating to a team and should also be highlighted.
With companies being compelled to re-think their ways of working and adapting to a remote setting, some of the softer skills required for performing well in a role become even more important.
We term having both of these as ‘the commercial skill set’ - a blend of IQ and EQ that show a successful individual at any stage of the career.
Here, we look at a few of these key transferable skills for this moment and how to demonstrate them to an employer.
In demand skills from employers
1. Digital and analytical skills
With digital transformation accelerating rapidly during the pandemic, workplaces are increasingly becoming more tech-focused. Basic computer skills are now expected by employers and having more technical abilities will help to future-proof a career, or even be ahead of the curve.
In a landscape where businesses want to make well-informed decisions, professionals who bridge the gap between data sources and business solutions are in high demand. The ability to analyse and draw insight is a must-have behind any business decision.
Whether you are a SQL programmer, have used visualization tools such as Tableau or PowerBI, or even have a record of tracking and reporting your own performance, data-backed examples of your experience make your results more tangible. They can, therefore, help you make the case for other transferable skills when your experience is not directly aligned.
This is termed as the ‘ability to change to suit different conditions’ and, whist is usually very highly regarded, is definitely a key trait now in the rapidly evolving environment. Even as businesses return to a new kind of ‘normal’, it’s likely that operational strategies may still be subject to change as the world gets to grips with a new way of working and the expectations that follow.
Employers will be looking for team players that can show they can be productive even if there isn’t a set roadmap or a potentially shifting process, working independently where needed.
You can become more adaptable as you develop other skills such as the ability to learn, work under pressure, prioritisation, shifting requirements or additional responsibilities. Think of a time when a project scope may have changed, how you considered this and the steps you took to shift your approach.
Being able to clearly articulate ideas, proposals and deliver feedback is a central skill to highlight and build for any role. Now, with distributed workforces, reduced face-to-face meetings, and a reliance on written and verbal technology, clarity in communication is crucial to cement trust and boost productivity.
Consider things such as how you have collaborated with a team, given feedback or structured meetings to ensure the right information is received and understood. Many interviews will also now, at least at the first stage, be conducted virtually. Here, bear in mind signals such as body language, eye contact and being able to convey a personal approach in the absence of non-verbal cues (see our article on video interviewing techniques).
4. Project management
Being able to manage a project through to delivery – including structure, plan, execution, status report, iterations – is a very useful asset, showing both hard and soft skills. Being able to think through a problem and deliver the result is highly transferrable.
Aside from having the formal Project Management certification, in the broader sense, the PM skills can be shown from managing a piece of work or project. This can be communicated through explaining how this was structured, problems overcome and people kept up to date, showing that these skills can be applied across industries, sectors and types of projects.
Think of the projects you’ve led or worked on, what your role was and how you managed those. Make sure to include objectives, time scales, responsibilities and outcomes – and you might have a list of projects which show your capacity to organize, structure and execute diversified projects in completely different businesses.
5. Creativity and innovation
Creativity is not solely associated with the traditionally ‘creative’ careers – it’s a crucial skill to have across every industry. Throughout the pandemic, the businesses that have been able to come up with ways to deliver services, adapt to technology, shift production or messaging and better serve their customers have been the ones that have seen tangible success. And these changes across the business landscape will continue in the coming years.
Employers see the value of an innovative approach and individuals who are willing to think outside the box to bring creative approaches to solving problems. Think about any specific examples of how you have approached something different which has led to a particular result, or any way that you have seen to do your role more effectively.
Also think about:
The reality is that the jobs market will likely be impacted by the long-term effects of the Covid-19 crisis, including demand spikes, sector shifts and emerging trends. Whilst technical skills associated with the specific role are important to list and tailor to the requirements, showing some softer skills will show that you are a well-rounded individual and are highly valuable and in constant demand by hiring businesses.
Each role will be different, so it’s important to look at the specific criteria and tailor the necessary skills accordingly. For those who might be looking at your profile, ensure that your online profile is up-to-date and that your CV shows enough relevant albeit concise descriptions of your projects. This can be done by using a similar way of thinking to that applied to a Consulting Case Study.