Jobseekers should look into improving on these four traits to succeed in a post-COVID world. Photo from Freepik
Culture Spotlight

Job-hunters, listen: Here are the skills and qualities employers are looking for in this COVID era

The pandemic has turned the working landscape even more cutthroat. How will you survive? BY JACS T. SAMPAYAN 
ANCX | Jul 13 2020

To say that the coronavirus has disrupted the entire working world is an understatement. Prevented from face-to-face interactions, companies and their workers have had to figure out how to fulfill their responsibilities, meet their quotas, and find a way to—as reflex statements of some politicos go—“move on.”

And the working world is trying to move forward whether it’s prepared for it or not. Olivier Legrand, managing director and vice president for LinkedIn in Asia Pacific & China, says that many companies are fostering engagement in other ways. Group messages and threads among co-workers have been increasing since March this year, he says. (As posts on social-media went, meetings that could’ve been an email have finally become an email.)

“We have also seen an interest in remote working, and skills related to that. Trending search terms on LinkedIn Learning related to remote working, such as ‘Communicating in virtual meetings’ and ‘Managing remote teams’ reiterate this,” Legrand points out.

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But how can one best navigate through this jittery landscape? What traits should job-seekers/professionals possess to survive? In an economy that has become so desperately competitive, how can those who have lost their jobs through this crises have a chance to, as Sen. Bato dela Rosa so helpfully, casually, conveniently advised, find new ones?

Well, we gathered the most mentioned skills that employers and corporate consultants say are the most essential in a post-COVID world. (Thanks internet!) These are what companies are looking for, and these are what you should be looking to improve on.

 

Flexibility

If workplaces haven’t changed enough before this year, they certainly have now. Conferences and meetings, job descriptions, company culture—all these corpo-terms find new definitions in 2020, with a landscape dominated by work-from-home setups. And it’s not like it will ever stop changing. Who knows how people will work in a couple years’ time, let alone a decade. So you’ve got to be able to ride the winds of change. TopUniversities.com defines flexibility and adaptability as “having an open mindset, being able to work well under pressure, adjusting to new and unexpected deadlines, prioritizing tasks and, in some instances taking on additional responsibilities.” Melbourne-based public research-institution Swinburne University likens it to the Japanese word “kaizen,” which means “change for the better.” A technique used by multinationals like Nestle and Ford, this is about creating a culture where every team member doesn’t just say they want to improve, but are actively seeking how to.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, 82 percent job vacancies now require digital skills. Photo from Freepik

Tech-savviness

Look, we get it. Sometimes technology, especially for those of us who are, uh, of a certain age, can be too fast, too intimidating. But in a world where, according to London’s Recruitment & Employment Confederation, 82 percent job vacancies now require digital skills, trying to keep up with the times is a must. Since COVID has forced even the most reluctant companies into digital transformations, Forbes.com says that having a cursory knowledge of technologies like AI, big data, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, and robotics will serve you well. We’re not saying that you suddenly have to become an expert; what we’re recommending is having a working knowledge of it. This means getting to a point where you won’t get lost in conversations, and be comfortable enough to give input and make decisions.

 

Creativity

Microsoft MVP Emma Bannister, in an article for LinkedIn, counts creativity as the business skill of the future, and what would become your competitive advantage in a post-COVID world. “It is the story that they tell,” she says. “And when it comes to business, creativity, in particular storytelling, allows for deeper connections to be forged, for needs to be met and for specific elements to combine that tap into feeling—excited, sad, angry, or otherwise.” 

Microsoft MVP Emma Bannister describes creativity as the business skill of the future. Photo from Freepik

Finding solutions and products creatively has a way of manifesting itself during tough times. Distilleries like San Miguel and Emperador, for example, decided to produce disinfecting alcohol to donate when these started being hoarded by consumers back in March. Thinking beyond what you see and normally do will serve you well through any crisis.

 

Critical thinking

Perhaps our favorite definition of critical thinking is it being the ability to sift through chaos and confusion in order to perceive truth. PunkPOS describes it further as being “self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.” 

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Simply put, you check information all the time and without being asked, and set things straight if the truth contradicts previous actions and statements you have made. This will prevent businesses, especially ones left financially sensitive because of COVID, from lapsing into crucial mistakes. It’s a skill that’s essential even outside of the workplace; it’s particularly important to have in cyberspace where fake news, malicious works of fiction, and baseless accusations can lead to people losing their jobs during a pandemic for reasons far, far removed from the virus and its effects, and, well, reality. But we digress.