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The Post COVID Skillset

It’s been eight months since we started living in the ‘new normal’ and what started out seeming temporary, has revealed itself to be the dawn of a new era of living, working and thinking.

As a Recruiter watching the job market react and adapt to the ‘new normal’, I have witnessed a distinctive shift in response over the past eight months. At first, the PR, digital and advertising industries (the events industry was brought to a complete standstill) adopted an initial short term focus on ‘battening down the hatches’, minimising costs, and planning a bounce back approach. In the wake of the second lockdown, this has shifted to a more strategic, long-term focus on adapting services and skill sets so that business is able to continue growing in an extended period of uncertainty and flux. 

As the focus of companies changes, so do their staffing needs. Unsurprisingly, the ‘model employee’ companies now seek is quite different from the one they sought at the beginning of 2020. This week, I wanted to discuss this shift in a little more detail and shed some light on the skills and qualities that employers currently prize. 

 

The Shift to Psychometric Testing and the Emphasis on EQ 

I’ve written a number of times now on the shift to Zoom job interviews and to augment this process, companies are implementing psychological testing (known as psychometric testing) to better gauge a candidate’s suitability for the role based on their personal characteristics and cognitive abilities. 

Whilst there is theoretically no ‘right or wrong’ answers to these tests, employers are looking for a certain level of emotional intelligence and qualities they feel will thrive in the current workplace environment such as resilience, adaptability, and an inclination towards critical thinking. Although your emotional intelligence and the results of psychometric testing are just one factor taken into consideration when companies make a hiring decision, in an oversaturated market with many highly skilled professionals looking for work, having these qualities may give you the edge that you need. 

Unfortunately, there is no real way to ‘game’ psychometric testing to ensure you produce results that reflect a high level of emotional intelligence. In fact, trying to answer the questions in a way that you think might appeal to an employer will only produce inaccurate, mixed results which may even obscure your emotional intelligence. The best thing you can do is take the test when you are well-rested and have a positive mindset, whilst giving yourself plenty of time to complete the questions. If you want some insight into what your personality test results look like there are a number of free psychometric personality tests available online. 

 

The Rise of the Hybrid Worker 

To put it simply, companies no longer have the hiring budgets they did at the start of the year. Over the past eight months, this has meant a lot of redundancies at senior and management levels. Now the dust has settled, businesses are trying to do more with less by putting their limited resources towards ‘hybrid’ candidates. These are professionals with a hybridised skill set that enables them to perform more than one core competency. In practice, this has meant an increase in demand for talent who are able to fulfil both the technical execution and management aspects of their professional area (i.e. digital marketing managers with the ability to team manage, project manage and strategise, then roll up their sleeves and assist in technical implementation) and talent with skill sets that cover the entirety of their professional area (i.e. content specialists with a firm grasp on copywriting, content strategy, social media management, graphic design, UX/UI, video production, photography etc.). 

The rise in demand for hybridised skillsets actually began before the pandemic and has only intensified since. I predict that hybridised roles will become increasingly common so if you want to distinguish yourself professionally in the job market, now may be a good time to think about extending your practical skill set with a short online course. 

 

Digital Literacy 

The definition of digital literacy is constantly evolving, but as this year has forced us to shift almost all of our work online, the definition of digital literacy has taken a massive leap and a working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Gmail aren’t going to cut it anymore. Employers are actively looking for talent with demonstrable digital competency with digital project management, team communication and collaboration, and information security tools. 

More generally, employers always value candidates who are up to date with the emerging digital trends and tools relating to their industry and skillset. I would highly recommend subscribing to one or more industry newsletters (B&T, Adnews, Mumbrella) to make sure you remain abreast of developments and take the initiative to upskill on emerging technologies or trends wherever possible. 

 

I want to wind up this post by saying DON’T PANIC. Whilst it’s good to understand the skill sets and qualities that employers currently prize, there is no replacement for solid, proven skills and experience.