4 Soft Skills to Land Your Next Job in 2021

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Staying in business requires the constant adoption of new strategies and practices. As such, due to the disruption of business during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across all job sectors, companies have accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across their supply chain and internal operations by three to four years. 

That’s great news for recent college graduates and job seekers in general, as in-demand tech fields like blockchain, cloud computing, UX design and AI continue to grow and accelerate at breakneck speeds. But while employers largely look at the resumes of job candidates for the attainment of specific hard skills, they shouldn’t overlook another area of important abilities and talents: candidates’ soft skills.

Breaking Down Soft Skills

Knowing the ins and outs of blockchain and UX design are examples of hard skills. Whether you’re starting school or are a recent graduate, you’ve likely attained several hard skills, either as part of your degree program or other coursework. Soft skills, on the other hand, are a little more ambiguous but arguably more important to employers.

In particular, many companies looking to hire in 2021 and beyond desire candidates who have already developed — and have the ability to attain — crucial teachable and measurable abilities for future job success. On the other hand, HR and talent leaders know that well-rounded employees need to possess certain soft skills, like empathy, creativity, problem-solving and flexibility, to contribute and succeed.

How can promising job candidates learn and develop these skills? Many of them turn to online associate’s degree programs to gain the skills needed to stay competitive in today’s workforce. Here are four soft skills that employers will desire most from new employees in the new year.

1. Empathy

Having empathy is a sign of strong emotional intelligence. It means you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes without having to share that same experience. Empathy is critical in the workspace, as it allows employees to better understand their managers, peers and clients in order to make intelligent decisions that benefit the company and, in turn, their careers. 

2. Collaboration

Collaboration (some employers might call this “teamwork”) measures how well you can work with others to produce the best results. The best collaboration is a delicate balance between persuasion and empathy that allows you to position your own ideas with confidence, while also recognizing the valuable contributions and ideas of your colleagues. Great collaboration shows both initiative and co-working skills.

3. Creativity

Creativity is a tough soft skill to define. You might assume someone’s ability to be imaginative and resourceful only applies to creative professions like advertising, design or video production, but creativity is an essential soft skill for just about any job. Take software engineering, for example. Creativity could apply to new process improvements, ideas regarding programming techniques, or new ways to work with front-end clients. Just like collaboration, good creativity shows initiative and a willingness to try something new.

4. Adaptivity

The ability to be flexible and roll with the punches has always been a soft skill coveted by employers, but it might now be more important than ever. Of course, it’s cliché at this point to say 2020 has been full of uncertainty, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As such, companies have been making tough decisions and drastic changes to adapt to this new work environment.

Layoffs and furloughs have changed office environments and more has been asked of employees who remain on the payroll. Employees who can adapt to these changes and do more with less are considered invaluable. Great adaptability breeds positivity, problem-solving and a strong work ethic — and it shows you can take a curveball and knock it out of the park.

Showing Off Your Soft Skills

The list of in-demand soft skills is endless, but each of these career attributes, character traits and personal qualities are useful to potential employers when you’re able to complement them with hard skills. Make that known at your next job interview, as it will give you a strong advantage over candidates who rely solely on the trending hard skills at the top of their resume.

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