The world of work has changed irrevocably over the past year and a half, and so have the skills employers are now looking for when scouring the CVs of prospective candidates. It is therefore crucial for those looking to land their first job post-graduation, people who are looking to re-enter the job market, and those wanting to move on to a new challenge, to update their CVs to reflect how they are able to bring newly desirable skills to a position.
“The logistics of the workplace during Covid has cast a spotlight on a number of skills which previously were nice-to-have, but now have become very important to keep the ship moving despite disruption and upheaval,” says Peter Kriel, General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
Kriel says some of the skills that employers will be looking for in future, include a candidate’s ability to be resilient and work under pressure, to work independently, and to be comfortable in the online environment in terms of submitting work, responding to feedback, and participating effectively in meetings.
“The trick is to look back over the past year, and find examples from your work or study life to demonstrate how your experiences and actions match the above skills. Of course, and it has to be stated unambiguously, everyone went through tremendous upheaval, personally, professionally, or both. And some more so than others.
“Great managers have also learnt and grown over the past year, and don’t expect emotionless super-humans who didn’t miss a step during the pandemic. However if you dig deep, you will find instances where you rose to the challenge, and perhaps moved beyond what you thought you were capable of. In addition to job-relevant technical qualifications from a respected institution, you can really set yourself apart in the job market now by highlighting those skills which will provide a measure of confidence in the hiring manager, that you will be able to keep going even while challenging external circumstances remain or re-appear down the line.”
Kriel says students looking to land their first position after graduation, can use examples from how they successfully managed their educational journey during lockdown, if they were able to do so. Additionally, they can reflect on work done under these challenging circumstances, and especially if they are able to demonstrate success achieved in work-integrated learning assignments.
For people already working who want to make a change or apply for a promotion, they can try to find concrete examples from how they managed during lockdowns.
“A very important consideration now is also to look toward the future, to identify any skills shortages you might have given the new environment, or which additional skills will make you more attractive in a tough jobs market,” says Kriel.
“In the past, specialist skills were paramount, but now, regardless of your field, everyone has to be a generalist as well. That means you have to demonstrate that you are able to not only use the tools of your trade, but that you can apply them strategically, by using complementary skills. Your strength as a candidate no longer comes just from your main field of focus, but from the unique combination of skills you bring to the table.”
Kriel says this period of history continues to be an unsettling one on many fronts, but adds that for the individual and society there is no choice but to keep moving forward.
“This is not a time to wait until things start making more sense or become better. You have to keep doing everything you can to build on your self-confidence, skills and personal empowerment. By tweaking your approach to your job search, and adjusting your personal branding to suit our new environment, you can continue working towards your goals and aspirations, one step at a time.”