It might be a candidate-driven job market today, but that doesn’t mean standing out for the roles you want is easy. On the contrary—it still takes plenty of thought and elbow grease to get noticed by the employers you’re most interested in.
Of course, you already make every reasonable effort to stay on top of the best skills to learn for jobs in your specific field. You familiarize yourself with the latest technology, keep up with trends and changes in your industry, and generally ensure that you aren’t falling behind.
That’s great! But, here’s the hard truth: Many other professionals in your field are likely doing that exact same thing.
So, if that’s the case, how can you make yourself that much more marketable in today’s hiring landscape?
It might come as a surprise, but a lot of it comes down to “soft skills.” These capabilities are often looked at as universal or even unnecessary, but they can actually be what sets you apart from your professional competition.
With all of that in mind, what are the best skills to learn for jobs in 2021? Here are eight that you should work on honing—regardless of what sort of role you’re in.
1. Time management
Our lives are busier than ever, the pace of work is constantly increasing, and the distractions are never-ending. It’s for reasons just like those that employers are prioritizing time management skills when looking for employees.
Why? Well, employees who are excellent time managers produce more for their companies—and, as a result, are far more cost-efficient.
The average employee reportedly wastes eight hours each workweek on tasks that are totally unrelated to their jobs. And, that lost productivity comes at a high cost for employers—quite literally. In 2012, that wasted time cost U.S. employers a whopping $134 billion in lost effort.
Ouch, right? With a price tag like that, it makes sense that employers are actively pursuing employees who know how to juggle multiple projects and deadlines, while ignoring pesky distractions.
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Regardless of what job you’re in, you’re going to need to communicate effectively with others—both verbally and in writing—in order to perform your responsibilities well. And, employers are continuing to recognize the importance of those communication skills.
In a 2018 survey of nearly 1,000 employers who regularly recruit on business school campuses, communication topped the list of skills and abilities those employers were looking for when hiring new graduates.
3. Business writing
In a similar vein, nearly every job requires some sort of writing expertise—whether you’re writing simple emails or in-depth reports.
And, that’s why the ability to express yourself clearly with the written word is a quality that will get you noticed for the jobs you want. One 2016 study found that an impressive 73.4% of employers report wanting a job candidate with strong written communication skills.
Once you actually land that role you want? Strong business writing skills help you perform more efficiently and effectively in the office.
If you’re looking to sharpen your own business writing skills, this course can help!
4. Creativity and innovation
This is a competency that’s far harder to quantify. But, considering that the world is constantly evolving, employers are increasingly looking for employees who can stay ahead of the curve.
In many cases, they aren’t looking for team members who are content to stick with the status quo, but instead those who can think beyond limitations and push the company to grow, advance, and innovate.
“Candidates possessing innovative qualities and experience contribute to a successful company, directly impacting work culture, business practices, market position and returns on investment, among others,” writes William Craig in an article for Forbes.
Even if you aren’t in a formal management position yet, leadership skills are highly valuable in the office—whether you’re leading a project or just want to set a positive tone on your team.
A report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), The Future of Jobs, surfaced numerous skills that employers will be actively seeking by the year 2020. You guessed it—leadership (cited as “people management” in the report) was one of them. According to the report, this includes identifying the best people for jobs, motivating them, and developing them in their careers.
But, even if you won’t be spearheading a team, honing your leadership abilities is still important, as those competencies will make you that much more confident in whatever role you’re in.
Eager to kick your leadership skills up a notch? Check out this helpful course all about team leadership.
I know what you’re thinking now: “Sales? I’m not a salesperson! So, why would I ever need this skill?”
Maybe you don’t earn your paycheck through commissions, but chances are good that you still need to do plenty of selling throughout your career.
You need to sell a potential employer on the fact that you’re the most qualified candidates. You need to sell your manager on the fact that your idea is a good one. The list goes on and on.
With those things in mind, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some sales skills under your belt to make those conversations that require negotiation and persuasion at least a little bit easier. Even if an employer isn’t looking for sales skills specifically, you can bet that they’ll still serve you well in your professional life.
Are you groaning at the mention of sales skills? This course will painlessly teach you what you need to know!
Of course, if you work in a marketing capacity, this skill is a must for being competitive in your field. But, that doesn’t mean that this only applies to tried and true marketers.
Much like sales, at least a little marketing knowledge is also needed to get yourself ahead in your career.
You should know how to promote your products or services with the help of email marketing tools, print, and online advertising, then track and measure your marketing efforts to determine results.
Like it or not, you need to know how to effectively promote yourself and your abilities—whether you’re aiming to land a new job or climb the ladder with your current employer.
Unfamiliar with basic marketing concepts? This course will get you up to speed.
8. Data Analytics
There’s no denying that data analysis is a growing career field. One LinkedIn report indicates that data scientist roles have grown over 650% since 2012.
If you currently work in a data-related position, you can look forward to continued demand and career growth. But, make no mistake, this is an impactful and impressive skill for you to have—even if your chosen profession has nothing to do with digits at first glance.
With an increasing focus on using data to inform business decisions, having even a basic level of knowledge to analyze and understand that information will make you that much more desirable in the eyes of employers.
Excel is a great place to start with data analytics, especially when you start using tools like Power Query and Power Pivot. Our Excel courses will set you on the right path.
Ready to get more advanced? Our Power BI course will teach you how to transform dull data into engaging reports and visualizations.
Make yourself more marketable with these 8 skills
Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list—the capabilities that specific employers are looking for can run the gamut.
However, research agrees that the above skills are currently sought after by many employers, and will continue to be prioritized well into the future.
So, roll up your sleeves and get to work on honing them, and you’ll be ready to take your career to the next level.
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