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7 skills recruiters will be looking for in the future of work

27 Aug 2020

Which skills will be in demand after Covid-19 and beyond? Here, a number of recruiters and HR leaders share their tips.

Click here to view the Future of Work Week series.

Predicting future of work skills and trends helps us understand more about how we’ll achieve results in the future, but also gives us something tangible to focus on now. We can take the ones we’re intrigued by, learn more about them and, ultimately, add them to our CV.

To help you get started, recruitment leaders in our community gave us some pointers on what they believe they’ll be looking for after Covid-19.

1. A growth mindset

The growth mindset can sound intimidating. Can you really hone a mindset? The best approach is to break it down. You’re probably already using many aspects of a growth mindset on a daily basis, especially since Covid-19 disrupted all of our working environments in record time.

Emma Mullan, talent and development manager at Liberty IT, explained it well: “I believe employees will need to demonstrate that they can be flexible and adaptable and show that growth mindset.”

We have all been forced to draw on our flexibility and adaptability in the past few months. Highlighting how you’ve had to do this and painting it in a positive light is key to showing recruiters your growth mindset. It’s about being enthusiastic about change and taking challenges head on.

For steps employers can take to help their staff feel prepared for the future, Mullan said that asking for feedback in remote recruitment processes is vital. Her team has also invested in new learning and development initiatives during the pandemic: “We have shifted our classroom-style offering to virtual platforms and continued to encourage our employees to gain AWS certification and continue self-directed study through platforms including LinkedIn Learning and Pluralsight.”

2. Critical thinking

According to Yasar Ahmad, head of tech talent acquisition at Zalando, critical thinking and “sound project and change management” skills will take centre stage as remote working brings “an atmosphere of increased autonomy”.

“Critical thinking and communication come hand in hand when adjusting business models for the future,” Ahmad said. “The challenges businesses face will typically require enhanced creativity, innovation and problem solving. Advanced interpersonal skills and communication are crucial for leaders driving change and to support their employees remotely.”

3. Self-confidence

Ahmad also highlighted the importance of self-confidence and self-reliance. He said that it’s imperative that as we continue to work remotely, we feel able to make mistakes.

“It can become very easy for employees to doubt themselves when working remotely,” he explained. “This can increase especially when some employees learn through simply observing other colleagues or leaders.

“Employees need to feel enabled by their employers to make mistakes. This is where creativity will really spark and continue to build a more human-shaped world around us.”

4. Cybersecurity skills

Ahmad’s final prediction was a rise in demand for cybersecurity abilities. Remote operating models will only become more important to businesses, he said, and keeping these safe and secure will require the right people for the job.

“We will see an increase in data science skills demand due to the pace of strategic decision-making and requirements to make data-led decisions,” he said. “Software development will likely see an interesting trend of more location-agnostic teams, leading to a larger playing field for many organisations to attract top talent from.

“Organisations and employees will need to adjust to more iterative processes and decision-making. The more agile we become, the easier it will be to adapt.”

5. A digital mindset

At PwC Ireland, a digital mindset has become more important than digital expertise. Emma Scott, a people partner at the company, described this as having “the core business knowledge along with curiosity, energy and passion for all things digital”.

People with a digital mindset, she said, are those who “are ready to help and influence our clients and our teams to reimagine the possible”.

Her team has been honing these skills in its current workforce through ‘digital academies’. She said: “We want people who will ask important and challenging questions, to find exciting and innovative solutions.

She added that those with that digital mindset are the ones that will be “top of the list for recruitment teams post-Covid and are certainly the ones we’ll be looking for”.

6. Emotional intelligence

For Mastercard’s Dublin tech hub, “innovative technologists with critical skills” are needed, according to talent acquisition director Gary Lawson. At the moment, the company is seeking people with skills in software engineering, project management, network analysis and UX design.

These, alongside leaders who can drive new ways of working and a diverse and inclusive culture, will be needed for working life after the pandemic. But what Lawson sees as “perhaps the most important” skill we need to focus on is emotional intelligence.

“In these uncertain times, it has never been more valuable to be able to navigate personalities, emotions and team challenges,” he said. “The culture at Mastercard is underpinned by decency, not only to one another as employees but also to our customers, consumers, and the communities in which we live and work.

“For future talent, we want to see not only what you can do, but how you do it and how you treat others and the world around you.”

7. Asking for help

What about the skills companies in the sciences will need? Dr Anne Jones, COO and managing director of Genuity Science in Ireland, told us that the skills her team will be seeking in the future “are many of the same” it has looked for since the company was founded.

“As a fast-growing company, Genuity Science has always sought out employees who can quickly adapt to change, are good communicators and are motivated self-starters who work well independently, but also have keen collaboration skills,” the company said. “Covid-19 has amplified the need for these soft skills as we further build out our team.”

Some of the most crucial skills the company will need, however, are linked to problem solving: “Problem-solving skills are always critical in any employee, but are even more crucial in our current environment where staff may be working in an isolated environment from the rest of the team.

“Part and parcel of this is that any good problem solver hopefully also knows when to ask for help and outside input, which is equally important.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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