The top skills employers are looking for in 2021

The Covid-19 crisis has immeasurably altered the way we all work. Whether it’s being cooped up at home 9-5 and only being able to see your colleagues’ faces on Zoom; or it’s having to adhere to a string of new protocols and restrictions to be able to operate safely from premises.

This has led to employers expecting new and varying qualities from job applicants in response to how the pandemic has changed our working practices. We caught up with some of the Hunter Selection team to find out exactly what employers are now looking for in prospective employees, as well as what their top bits of advice are to prove you have the necessary skills.


1. Flexibility

By far and away the most popular response we got when asking our Recruitment Consultants was flexibility. The sudden and dramatic announcement of lockdown measures (including work from home orders) from the government April last year proved to businesses the importance to have a team light enough on their feet to quickly adapt. The businesses that were able to adapt the quickest were the ones to suffer the least economically from wasted man-hours.

Jamie Smith, Senior Consultant says “Within the technology market most clients I’m speaking to have found novel solutions to working during these tough times. It’s important that candidates prove their flexibility. Work closely with your recruiter to prepare yourself to effectively demonstrate this during the interview.”


2. Organisation

Keeping tabs on various projects, deadlines and needless to say team members is a complex enough task to begin with, but the challenges posed to management increases tenfold when working remotely. While organisation is a perennially popular skill to employers, the advent of the pandemic made it even more desirable.

Regional Manager James Clarke added “Given the impact that Covid has had on all businesses, when hiring for managerial positions certain skills are becoming increasingly desirable. Given the logistical issues that the pandemic has brought, a high level of organisational ability is required, placing an emphasis on creating clear structure and setting achievable business goals whilst perhaps working remotely is important. Clear thinking managers who can organise, prioritise projects, issue the correct materials required, motivate and inspire their workforce and furthermore sincerely empathise with the challenges encountered are highly desired both during and certainly long after the pandemic has ceased.”


3. Proof you tick all the boxes

More and more of us are finding ourselves in the unenviable position of starting new jobs where even from our first day we are required to work from home. This doesn’t just pose challenges for the new starters either. Without the ability to physically keep an eye on their new hire employers are unable to scope out the strengths and weaknesses of the individual and help them to develop the skills they need to do the job to the highest success. In short, this means employers want as much assurance as possible that a candidate is capable of doing the job right from the off.

Richard Frost, Senior Consultant puts it like this: “Clients are being more specific than ever, candidates must tick as many boxes as possible, because of remote working clients will not be overseeing them as much. I always stress to candidates to make sure they have all the information on their CV, really go in-depth to show their capabilities and technical knowledge. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to CV writing!”


4. Problem Solving

How can you keep machinery running effectively when a risk assessment dictates you can only have a quarter the number of employees you’d normally have on the factory floor? Or How can you prove to clients you can still meet demand, despite restrictions?

Lockdown restrictions made employers quickly learn the value of having team members with strong problem-solving skills. Senior Consultant, Ashley Reynolds says “Being able to think about ways to get around issues that everyone is having at the moment is a quality of paramount importance to employers, and something which everyone is looking for in candidates.”



5. The right attitude

Finally, but perhaps most importantly — employers are looking for people with ‘the right attitude’. Every one of us is under new and considerable stresses and strains which we were not before March 2020. Whereas before an interviewer might have overlooked a candidate’s sullen negativity if they demonstrated other qualities, today employers are looking out for a can-do attitude above all else.

Service Team Manager, Matt Hayes points out that “In the current climate no company will take you on if you are negative or inflexible. It’s paramount we all do what we can to make our respective businesses succeed. Have examples of times where you have gone above and beyond. There will be opportunities to showcase this in an interview. If the interviewer doesn’t ask the questions, there will be an opportunity at the end to tell them.”

While Chris Gumm, Senior Consultant, finished by saying “Attitude is everything – if someone is aspirational to learn new things, train and wants to develop to be as diverse with their skills across all areas of a business this is one of the most important things. You can give an employee all the tools and training to do the job, but if they don’t have the right attitude then the time invested is not effective.”


So, there you have the top five most important qualities to prove to employers in 2021. Are you looking to take the next step in your career, or perhaps a graduate looking for their first big break? Our consultants across the country are highly skilled in interview techniques and support so get in touch with your local Hunter Selection office to see what we can do for you.