How hiring has changed: what employers are looking for in 2021

Hiring has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what employers are looking for now.

The job search has changed a lot in the past year and a half, and so have the needs of hiring managers.

We sought to find out how the skills and qualities employers are looking for in new hires have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by putting out a call to hiring managers to answer this question. According to their responses, versatility, a willingness to learn, and resilience are now the top considerations for employers when considering new hires, along with the need for communication skills, tech skills, and the ability to work independently.

Everyone looking for a job should be paying attention to these new hiring requirements and finding ways to show that they possess the skills and qualities required to succeed in a world that has changed in the face of upheaval.

What employers are looking for in 2021

Here’s what 12 hiring managers had to say out of the dozens who responded to the query:

“How have your hiring needs have changed since the onset of the pandemic and is what you look for in a new hire different from what it was before? Are you looking for different skills, qualifications, or qualities? If so, what are they and why?”

“Remote working is here to stay. We now require our new employees to be resourceful and problem solvers as they may be working alone most of the time. This quality was not stressed in all jobs before the pandemic. Also, before the pandemic, we highlighted the importance of communication skills in most jobs, but due to remote working, we are now specifying the need for one to be able to write succinctly and clearly. This is because messaging tools like emails have become more popular in remote environments. We need these excellent writing skills to avoid miscommunication in our remote work environment. We also look for good tech skills. This will minimize costs associated with training and development.” — Sharon Terera, HR professional affiliated with brokerage review firm, ForexToStocks

“Professionals who can demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit will stand out. The events of the pandemic have taught us the need to be ready to pivot, be creative, agile, and work with the resources at hand. An entrepreneurial employee will be driven to find solutions and maximize the best interests of the company in these trying times. There is also an emphasis on flexibility. A lot of job seekers view flexibility as being allowed to do whatever they want while showing some commitment to the company but this isn’t what flexibility is about. On the contrary, candidates with the ability to quickly rise up to the occasion, go the extra mile, and do what needs to be done despite the challenges such as staffing shortages are in demand. Employers are looking for professionals who can demonstrate self-discipline and efficacy, time management skills, strong communication skills, and technology skills to navigate the world of remote work.” — Mike Moran, recruiter and owner of Texas staffing agency, Green Lion Search

“Nowadays, I am looking for versatility in candidates. Writers and social media managers should also know how to do some graphic design. SEO experts, graphic designers web designers, and developers should also know how to do some copywriting. This helps me find the best talent who are not only proficient at what they do but are also great team players.” — Jack Miller, Founder of How I Get Rid Of, home improvement and pest control expert

“The one thing that’s on top of our list is versatility. With what has happened to the world due to the pandemic, it’s crucial that people are flexible and adaptable. We don’t know what’ll happen in the near future. What kept our company afloat in the past year was our employees’ versatility. They took on roles that weren’t part of their jobs. They were more than willing to learn to ensure that we’ll keep on running.” — Ian Sells, Co-Founder and CEO of rebate platform, RebateKey

“We’re more aware of how adaptable and resilient a candidate needs to be. The pandemic has shown us all that an inner strength and ability to work through upheaval are vital qualities in today’s world. So I’d say resiliency, and a positive attitude in the face of unexpected change in circumstances and working conditions has moved higher up on our list of priorities when hiring.” — Will Ward, CEO of translation equipment ecommerce business, Translation Equipment HQ

“The technology we are all using is advancing at a rate which means that skills learned previously may not be adequate for the future. For this reason, rather than look for candidates with impressive qualifications, we are focusing on those who can prove their adaptability to using new technologies and a willingness to learn. The skills learned in college or previous employment can have a very short shelf life and may be obsolete before they need to use them.” —  James Crawford, Co-Founder and CEO of ecommerce platform, DealDrop

“I am looking for more adaptable people who are flexible enough to adjust should another thing like the pandemic happen again. To be able to filter these people out from tons of applicants, I ask them how they spent their downtime during the pandemic. People who are flexible are able to turn this downtime into a productive time, rather than just using it to pass the time. By telling me that they took a course, pursued a hobby, or discovered a new talent, they are able to demonstrate their adaptability, and they put themselves at an advantage when it comes to being hired.” — Michael Knight, Co-founder and Head of Marketing of incorporation services company, Incorporation Insight

It is no longer so important to be physically present and meet schedules, but rather to meet specific objectives within a certain deadline. The best way to determine whether a candidate is suitable for this type of work is to see what volunteer experience they have. Participation in volunteer activities at a university or in an organization implies a high level of commitment. This indicates that candidates can work to achieve objectives instead of meeting schedules.” — David Adler, Founder and CEO of wholesale travel company, The Travel Secret

“We are prioritizing candidates who are agile enough to quickly adapt to new situations and opportunities. We also need people with critical thinking skills who can objectively analyze data and make effective decisions on the findings. Job candidates should be prepared to describe scenarios where they can demonstrate they have the skills required. They should make sure they can accurately describe the situation, the task, their action, and the result. They can practice by recounting these scenarios alone or to a friend.” — Brad Touesnard, founder & CEO of SpinupWP, a cloud-based server control panel designed for WordPress

“Candidates nowadays must be agile learners. Learning agility refers to a person’s capacity to learn new things and use that knowledge in different situations. To keep up with change, one must be able to adapt, unlearn, and relearn. An agile learner can effectively handle future difficulties and challenges because they are always expanding their learning and are willing to try new techniques completely unfamiliar to them. Unlearning outdated ideas and habits that are no longer relevant is necessary nowadays because of the seemingly continual and unexpected changes happening.” — Stacey Kane, Business Development Lead at building and drainage supplies company, EasyMerchant

“We began looking for flexibility and a willingness to learn. If an applicant appears willing to grow right along with your company, then they could be a wonderful asset as we all begin to acclimate to new business practices and implement the lessons that we’ve learned.” — Chris Riley, Co-Founder and CEO of digital health marketplace, USA Rx

Also, university degrees may be becoming less important

As you can see, if you want to get the job, find ways to show that you’re versatile, adaptable, and willing to learn. Also, one respondent noted that the university degree is less important to him, which echoes something we’ve been hearing from employers across many industries. We’ll finish off with this comment:

“It used to be that a university degree in the right field was the ticket to a good job. Then we said the area didn’t matter; as long as you have a degree, employers will assume you’re pretty smart. Nowadays, though, a degree just tells me you have debts. It’s not an indication of ability or intelligence. If it’s a straight choice between someone with a degree and someone without, I’ll still lean towards the candidate with the degree. But if it’s a choice between real-world work experience and a college degree – work experience wins every time. All that matters to me is that you’re honest and can do the job.

“The other change is that we assume everyone can use a computer. When I see someone has Word or Excel on their resume, I just ignore it. Anyone who can use a computer can figure out whatever software we throw at them. The only exception is if we’re hiring specialized tech people, like coders or graphic designers. In those cases, sure, put down your abilities in niche programs. But nobody is impressed by your familiarity with Microsoft Word. Rick Hoskins, Founder of air filter delivery service, Filter King

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