The lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic have transformed American work life forever. Fearful governors forced unimaginable regulations upon companies and people who had no choice but to adapt to this unnatural paradigm for life. Most companies that survived the lockdowns switched to remote work environments, where teams were ripped from the structure and familiarity of their offices and inserted into the framework of Zoom conferences amid home environments full of distractions. With no end in sight, employers will view self-motivation and direction as major determinants for success.
Crisis Management is the New Normal
In 2021, businesses will seek employees who are problem solvers, savvy, and able to take charge in crisis situations. This is just the beginning, and we must continue to evolve or risk total failure. Employers will value workers who are adaptable during times of change. Every hiring manager’s dream is someone who can take on any responsibility, big or small, whether it’s in their scope of work or not.
Communication and Collaboration in a Remote Environment
In a remote environment, employers want proactive self-starters who can function in an at-home environment where it’s too easy to spend the day on the couch with the TV running. In addition, employees must have excellent communication skills. Cross-functional work is challenging enough without these new barriers. One must be able to collaborate with internal and external teams of coworkers, vendors, and clients who are facing similar challenges.
Soft skills are often overlooked. They are now at the forefront, as companies fight to survive the economic crisis and other hardships created in response to this pandemic. Many people see soft skills as nice-to-have qualities that make work more pleasant. Today, soft skills like the ability to communicate and adapt are not nice to have — they are essential. Hiring managers and companies are measurably more attentive to soft skills over hard skills, because they are more mindful of a future plagued with unknowns. Many recruiters prefer to hire people with flexibility and the willingness to learn over people who have every hard and technical skill.
Keep Your Feet Planted While You Reach for the Stars
Don’t write off hard skills — they are important. Employers like to move fast. Plug-and-play workers are typically viewed as productive and efficient, versus those who require more training. Experts have honed their hard skills through practice and repetition. In my world, these skills include SEO, paid search, and analytics.
If you’re talking to recruiters, then you need to arm yourself with these and other tools. And remember, show, don’t tell. Don’t just say you’re a “motivated self-starter.” Set yourself apart by demonstrating the passion and energy of a communicative self-starter who loves to overcome unexpected challenges. Do this, and you’ll be an amazingly attractive candidate in 2021. Get your foot in the door with your hard skills, and use your soft skills to close a deal for your dream job.