Employers’ most in-demand skills for the future

The skills leaders are putting a premium on in the new world of work

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Today’s job market is increasingly competitive. Fresh candidates are entering their chosen sector in search of their first-ever role while others are leaving their jobs post-pandemic in search of more fulfilling, flexible, and higher-paying roles. What’s more, new industries and innovations are opening up new opportunities that didn’t exist even a few years ago.

This evolution makes it all the more challenging for job searchers to stand out among the crowd. It’s not always enough to rely on experience, qualifications, or references anymore.

Today, hiring managers are looking for candidates who will easily fit into a team and can adapt to new ways of working. With automated workflows, artificial intelligence, agile teams, and remote working all on the rise, it puts a spotlight on the types of candidates that are needed for companies to succeed.

That’s why it’s vital to understand employers’ most in-demand skills for the future. These set the best candidates apart from the rest, helping recruiters identify the most promising individuals who will bring the greatest value to your business.

Digital literacy skills

We undeniably live in a digital era. From desktop computers and portable devices like tablets to Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and cloud computing, digital tools permeate just about every industry.

This evolution is leading many companies to undergo a digital transformation. Utilizing technology and software is a highly beneficial way of streamlining and automating various business processes and workflows.

Today, many companies are investing in tools like ERP systems and payroll software for small businesses. These cloud-based services are particularly beneficial for companies as they eliminate the need for manual tasks by automating them and streamlining processes.

While it’s one thing to implement new software like this, it’s another to ensure staff use it effectively. While department heads can train staff, there’s likely to be a digital skills gap in the workforce, particularly when it comes to adopting more complex systems.

As a result, many employers will be looking for people with digital literacy skills.

Some roles may simply require workers to be experienced in using tools like Excel or Word. However, others may look for employees with proficiencies in specific software and platforms, such as SailThru or WordPress. Others still may look for people experienced in coding languages like Swift or Python.

Employees with excellent digital skills aren’t only confident in using technology for work and learning. They are also more likely to embrace new technology in the future and even help companies streamline processes further by encouraging managers to adopt innovative solutions.

Emotional intelligence and adaptability

This is one of the strongest cases for why the technical skills vs soft skills debate often skew in favor of soft skills.

Employees who are emotionally intelligent can empathize with others, are socially aware, and can regulate their own emotions. This allows them to build strong relationships, manage stress effectively, and avoid conflict.

Similarly, adaptability is a skill that’s both desirable and tough to teach. Being adaptable means you can adjust to new situations and remain flexible when working with new people or systems.

Employees who can keep up with changes will be able to work effectively in a fast-paced environment. They can also handle new challenges more easily, making them a cornerstone of their team.

An adaptable person is more likely to settle into their new role quickly and seamlessly integrate into the team. What’s more, they can be moved across to different teams or departments with minimal hand-holding should other projects or tasks require cross-collaboration.

Leadership skills

You’d be forgiven for thinking that leadership skills are restricted to leaders. However, leadership is one of the most in-demand skills for the future for anyone, not just managers.

The term ‘leadership’ doesn’t exclusively refer to the idea of ‘being in charge of’ others. People can exhibit leadership skills in groups without necessarily taking charge or even when working independently.

People often think of leadership as being focused on people management and planning and delivering projects. However, decision-making, conflict management, and innovation are all key leadership skills.

More importantly, leaders inspire.

Those with strong leadership skills are able to help others complete their job responsibilities successfully and excel in their role. They are open to negotiation with team members, motivate colleagues, and boast creative and critical thinking skills.

This type of skill also makes people better team players on the whole, fueling more effective collaboration across their organizations.

Great leaders also know how to nurture the best skills in their team members. For example, they might use dedicated small business HR software to develop their staff and boost productivity.

Utilizing HR management platforms like this allows leaders to monitor employee performance and develop training plans. In turn, this can increase staff motivation and help the company reach its growth potential–and nothing says leadership skills like investing in growth.

Communication skills

Even the smallest company is made up of at least a few individuals. These people have to work together for the business to operate optimally—and that harmony relies on effective communication.

No matter your job function or the size of your team, communication will likely form part of your daily role. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking communication is limited to talking to another person.

Communication can be verbal or non-verbal and take place between peers, managers, or clients. So besides giving presentations and team project updates, employees are also likely to need communication skills to provide feedback, write reports, make sales, or maintain partner relationships.

Crucial elements of effective communication also include noticing non-verbal cues and learning how to listen actively.

Why does this matter? In its most basic form, effective communication allows us to coordinate with others, collaborate on tasks, and stay organized. Highly effective communicators also make better-informed decisions, work more efficiently, and exhibit confidence.

As employers look to increase their workforce diversity, having strong communication skills makes you a more attractive employee. Robust communication lets you bridge gaps between cultures, backgrounds, and personal experiences. It ensures both parties learn from each other, enriching their experiences and helping the company gain a more balanced perspective.

Critical thinking and problem-solving

Few things help employers plug a talent gap quite like having an employee with amazing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Let’s start with the latter.

Critical thinkers don’t just take things at face value. They know how to investigate a situation to fully understand it, allowing them to form fact-based opinions that take multiple perspectives into account.

This skill is valuable to employers who are interested in growing and improving their companies, particularly in today’s digital landscape. Critical thinkers help make this happen by questioning why things are done a certain way if that way doesn’t seem to be working, creating room for innovation and growth.

Critical thinkers also help to bring out the best in their teams. They challenge ideas in ways that help ensure those ideas have the chance to become fully developed. This lets others’ voices be heard with your input.

Problem solvers are similarly soft-skilled.

People with excellent problem-solving skills know that any issue can be addressed with the right approach and mindset. They don’t see insurmountable problems; they see challenges with unique solutions.

Both of these skills rely on having a mindset that’s always open to learning new information. You can’t be set in one way of thinking while calling yourself a problem solver or critical thinker.

Self-management and drive

Employers don’t always have time to micromanage each new hire—nor should they need to. Micromanagement makes it challenging for individuals to show off their skills. It also uses up resources for an ultimately fruitless pursuit.

Instead, employers are looking for new hires that are self-starters: people who can be trusted to manage themselves and are self-motivated.

Self-management is a highly useful skill in large and small businesses alike. In many companies, managers will likely have too many tasks on their plate to control every team member’s daily activities closely. This means you can stand out by proving you can organize your own time while still getting everything done.

That self-management and drive is an invaluable future skill.

Final thoughts

Experience isn’t everything. In fact, the most in-demand skills for the future are transferable skills that will future-proof workforces.

Employees with these skills demonstrate their versatility and potential. So companies that hire workers with any or all of these skills set themselves up for success.

By investing in talented individuals, employers can build a robust team that can tackle challenges, adapt to new situations or market trends, and reach its goals.

In a word, these skills are indispensable for the future.

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