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COVID-19: Skills for the future workplace

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Despite edging closer to a post-coronavirus world, there are still a lot of unknowns about the job market and the way it will function.

It’s safe to assume things won’t return to what we once knew, so what can you do to ensure employability in the workplace?

Workplaces across many industries have started to focus more on flexible working and working from home, meaning employers will be looking for employees with a slightly different skill set than normal. For graduate students, this is an opportunity to evaluate their skill set for areas of improvement to best position themselves for success on the job market in the ‘new normal’.

Skills that will be in demand

According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Grad’s Guide to Getting Hired, there are many skills in demand across all industries – mostly soft skills – for entry-level jobs and internship positions.

  • Adaptability: With change comes the need for adjustment, so the ability to adapt is crucial and an essential skill every employer will value. The focus will be on having an open mindset and constantly refining your skill set to embrace the evolving workplace through additional responsibilities, tasks, and pressure.
  • Leadership: In uncertain times, leadership will be a highly sought-after commodity. Professionals who can inspire, empower, and maximise the output of a team through clarity and confidence amid fluctuating circumstances will be in high demand. 
  • Communication: Every good leader excels in communication, which will be even more important as the number of employees working remotely increases. Practice your delivery, posture, facial expressions, and maintaining eye-contact through a screen to clearly and professionally convey a message. Those are the key factors of this core competency that will matter the most in a largely digital workspace. 
  • Problem-solving: Well-developed problem-solving skills like active listening, critical thinking, and analysis will help drive decision-making and managing your tasks and responsibilities. 

A focus on technology

Besides soft skills, developing tech-savvy skills is equally important. The pandemic has turned digital skills into bare necessities, so mastering a variety of tools from communication platforms to management solutions will be important to keep up to date with working digitally.

With automation becoming more involved in everyday business operations, people who understand technology become more valuable. For instance, research shows 61 per cent of enterprises believe AI will substantially transform their industries, adding an additional level of efficiency to the human workforce.

Consider getting familiar with data literacy, coding, digital marketing, and technology like cloud and blockchain. Decent working knowledge of some of these digital skills and technologies will propel you above the rest.

Building skills from the comfort of your home

From virtual internships to short-term credential programs to skill-specific online courses like Coursera, edX, Udemy, Skillshare, and others, graduates can choose from multiple paths to develop or polish and, ultimately, leverage a variety of skills across various disciplines needed for success in a fast-changing workplace. 

You can work out your areas of improvement by completing a SWOT analysis, a technique for assessing four key aspects of a person or organisation: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

To boost your chances of employment, include your end-of-year university project on your resume and highlight specific skills and knowledge from your studies that can be highlighted as transferrable skills in the workplace. Use it to your advantage to communicate ideas and values relevant to almost every job that involves understanding and working with people.

Graduate students seeking to ace interviews and stand out would do well to follow their footsteps and adapt. Right now, it has never been more important to differentiate yourself and communicate your value proposition to potential employers at first glance.

Read about the impact of AI on applying for your first job.

About the author

Dr. Jeremy Nunn

Dr Jeremy Nunn is Founder and Director of technology company Workmetrics. Dr. Nunn is a Murdoch alumnus, having completed his Doctorate of IT, Master of Science and Bachelor of Science at Murdoch University.

Posted on:

4 Aug 2020

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