The novel coronavirus changed everything about 2020 including the employment landscape, and because of this recruiters have changed their criteria of what really matters when making new hires. Over the next 12 months, both jobseekers and hirers will see what characteristics, skills and work experience are going to matter in the pandemic reality. As a recruitment expert, here are the top five things hirers are valuing heavily in 2021, in order of importance.
Many major tech companies have announced that their work from home policies will stretch well into Summer 2021, and arguably there are cases where some employees may never truly return to an office environment. In the United Kingdom, I heard of a case where some council buildings were permanently closed, requiring all staff to work from home for the foreseeable future. The cost of adapting the office space to COVID-era safety requirements (improved air filtration, social distancing requirements, etc.) presented too much of a financial burden to implement especially considering that productivity was largely unaffected.
Due to the more remote and isolated nature of the future of work, one’s ability to self-motivate and self-coach is increasingly important to hirers. Perseverance, the ability to overcome challenges, or to adapt to work with reduced resources were always important but employers will be looking for concrete demonstrative examples of these soft skills in resumes moving forward. We’ve likely all got a COVID story related to work, about how we overcame or adapted to the new challenges presented by the pandemic. Don’t be afraid to include your COVID story in your resume or cover letter by describing the challenge, the actions you took and the outcome of those actions.
The financial impact of COVID-19 is still yet unknown. The repercussions on businesses, large and small, means that the future is still somewhat uncertain. Businesses will need to be even more dynamic in the future if they are to flourish. This means that workforces of the future will need to be equally flexible and recruiters will be looking, again, for explicit examples.
You may have started 2020 with a set plan for your job role, with budgets and resources allocated to achieve your KPIs. And then in March, the budget and resources were slashed but the KPIs remain the same. You were asked to dig deeper in order to deliver the same with less. Showcasing this can be as simple as stating “I was able to reduce my weekly hours for three months to reduce costs to the company, but still delivered on the outcomes previously decided on for the year/quarter/project,”. Statements like these make your resume and career history stand out in a pool of potential candidates. This is a powerful skill to have and employers in 2021 need a labor force with this flexibility.
Striving towards a goal, no matter how much longer it takes and how many setbacks you may face, is the difference between making something happen and not. With the current climate, if there’s one blessing with it, it’s the obstacles that are challenging us to think and work in new ways. Perseverance, dedication - whatever you want to call it is the third most important skill recruiters will be looking for.
When considering submitting a job application, as a candidate consider your ability to dedicate yourself to a company and project. The COVID climate has presented all of us with such a high level of uncertainty, there needs to be an increased level of dedication towards whatever you’re doing. Projects and initiatives that may have taken you a certain amount of time and resources, pre-COVID, may not have the same amount of resources for the foreseeable future. However, the goals of the business have remained the same and require the same (if not more dedication) to reach them.
To highlight this soft skill in your resume, include an example of a time where your dedication resulted in a positive outcome, despite numerous roadblocks or setbacks. This can be part of your COVID story example but be sure to include the word dedication in the language.
Thrive whilst virtual:
Seems obvious? Well, it’s not, unless you demonstrate it in your resume. With so much of the workforce going virtual in 2020, the learning curve for adapting to remote work has become a hot topic. Virtual is likely here to stay, in at least one form or the other, due to the many cost and time advantages. In your resume, highlight some of your performance metrics to demonstrate how you managed to survive and thrive during the pandemic. If you do struggle to work in a virtual environment, you may need to search for a new career if your role and industry are planning to remain remote.
The virtual environment requires a proactive mind to get the job done. As a candidate in the job market, you have to cultivate a mindset to go beyond the norm and be proactive in your endeavors in order to stand out. Using your resume to highlight a time where you anticipated an issue and managed to address it early on are what businesses need right now. Good recruiters should be actively looking for this skill within a candidate and their resume.
Whether you are a jobseeker, a recruiter or hirer I believe the above skills are the core recipe for building a workforce driven towards success during uncertain and challenging times ahead. The way we work will never be the same again, so we may as well accept it and begin to shape our view of the world in a way that works towards the future.
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