Crush your career by improving your job skills

We know one thing for certain – the last few years have turned the work world on its head. With a global pandemic creating and enforcing new strategies to keep the wheels turning, remote work became the norm. Some companies embraced the remote work model and will keep it full-time, while others have spent a good deal of time getting employees back to the office. In every instance, however, events have taught companies a lot of lessons about what it takes to make a great employee in an ever-changing economy.

If you're looking for a way to set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates out there during your next job search, you need to think beyond your degree and your certifications and focus on the best skills for a job to include on your resume. 

Most people who apply for a position will have the nuts-and-bolts training required to do the job. However, many hiring managers agree that it's your soft skills that can put you at the top of the list. That being said, there are some key hard skills that can up your employment game as well – especially in the next couple of years.

As you get ready to test the job market, brush up on these 8 skills for a job that recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for in top candidates. 

1. Continuous learning

The days of getting a job and simply punching in and punching out are over. If you want to get ahead, you need to embrace continuous learning. By improving your work-related skill set, whether it's soft skills or hard skills, you boost your chances of improving your career trajectory. 

Employers love to hear that candidates enjoy learning, because it's necessary in a business world where change and growth are happening at remarkable speed. Those who don't embrace learning new things will be left behind, simply because they lack the important job skills employers need.

2. Time management

Time management has always been important, but with the acceptance of remote work and the need for many companies to do more with fewer employees, it's more important than ever. That means that your employers have to trust that you can manage your time and get your work done without anyone looking over your shoulder. In today's age of smartphones, social media, and binge-worthy TV, you need to prove that you can stay on task and on target. 

3. Decision-making

Everybody makes decisions, right? Not exactly. For some people, decision-making is excruciating; they struggle to see beyond all the questions. What if we make the wrong choice? Is it worth the investment? Will the team be on board? 

Having the ability to assess the criteria in front of you and come to a conclusive decision on a regular basis, even if you're wrong once in a while, marks you as a person who gets things done. It also shows that you're willing to take risks on occasion - and that's a good thing, too.

4. Emotional intelligence

The ability to stay in tune with your own emotions and the emotions of those around you is more valuable than ever. The days of “leave your problems at the door when logging in to work” are gone. From acknowledging your own emotions to having empathy for the emotions of your co-workers and clients, emotional intelligence will help you to be a “people person” without having to be an extrovert. This is one of the new top skills for a job in the modern economy. 

5. Change Management

As you know, things are changing faster than ever – and sometimes that can be hard on employees. Having a knack for change management, whether that means handling changes on your own or helping to guide whole teams on new directives, is a great way to make yourself an irreplaceable part of nearly any organization. 

6. Project management

Understanding the full scope of your projects, and being able to manage them from concept to completion, is a vital work-related skill. Changes in the labor market can make it harder for management to keep tabs on every project, so having employees who are skilled at project management makes their lives easier. It also sets you up to help others and possibly move into a management role of your own.

7. Cloud computing

Now we're getting into some more direct skills that can really give you an edge. The world is moving into the cloud even faster than expected and companies need people who understand it and can work with it. 

Even if you're not a Programmer or Engineer, just having a solid understanding of the cloud, how it works, and best practices can keep you ahead of the game.

8. Artificial intelligence

It's truly an AI age now, with robots and automation making their way into the job market. We not only want computers to do work for us, but we also want them to get smarter as they work. Just like cloud computing, you don't need to be a top-level expert, but a solid understanding of AI can give you a vital edge in a difficult job market.

Skills and career marketing

When it's time to apply for a new job, you'll need a stellar resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Each one needs to be optimized with skills for the job in hand. 

Skills on your resume

The first thing almost all job seekers work on is their resume. It's a critically important document. It has been argued that your resume is the most important financial document you'll ever own – without it, you can't pay bills, go on vacation, or save for retirement. By taking the extra time to dissect each job description and get the relevant keywords you'll need for your resume, you'll start to stand out from the crowd. 

Technically, you can weave relevant keywords into any section of your resume; however, the best places are in the title, profile summary, and skills section. 

  • The title should mirror the job description in a way that is creative and poignant

  • As you tweak your profile summary with keywords from the job description, think about how your experience is related to those keywords and how you can use them with what you already know to impress hiring managers

  • Your skills section is where you'll put keywords that you couldn't wordsmith into the title or profile summary - it's just a list of up to 12 keywords that will help to get your resume noticed by the applicant tracking system (ATS) when recruiters conduct keyword searches.

Optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords

Your LinkedIn profile is special and is ranked based on keyword density, among other things. As recruiters search on LinkedIn for candidates to fill open roles, the profiles with the most relevant keywords will show up at the top of the recruiter's list. Now, you don't want to overdo it with the keywords, as that could be seen as keyword stuffing. But you want to make sure you're using industry and job-specific keywords in a way that makes sense. 

Don't forget the cover letter

Before Covid, cover letters were read about 25% of the time. After Covid, that number went up to around 50%. Social distancing and quarantining left hiring managers with a feeling of being disconnected from job seekers. They felt that reading cover letters was a way to reconnect. Don't just throw something together and call it a cover letter, though. Be diligent with keywords that match your skills, just like you are with your resume and LinkedIn profile. Put your creative hats on and align your experiences, skills, and achievements with keywords from the job description. 

You are the best at what you do – don't let them forget that!

Now that you know some of the professional skills for a job that you'll need to be successful in the new normal, it's time to get to work. But remember, you don't just have to boost your skills – you have to advertise them. Update your resume to highlight these top skills and then create a killer cover letter that shows just how ready you are for a new job. 

Are you updating your resume? Why not send it for a free resume review by the experts at TopResume, to make sure it's selling your job skills in the current labor market?

This article was originally written by Ken Chase and has been updated by Marsha Hebert.

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