Display the skills employers are looking for this year on your resume and in your interviews to increase your chances of landing a new job in 2021.
The employment market is an ever-evolving environment, and it’s important to keep pace with new trends and employer needs. After all, innovation occurs at breakneck speed. As companies race to keep pace with those changes, their employee needs evolve over time. As a result, your resume needs to reflect those changing needs.
To remain competitive, you need to understand what qualities and resume skills employers are looking for. To help you in that effort, we’ve compiled the top 15 qualities and skills companies are already looking to hire for in 2021.
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Employers look for both hard skills and soft skills
First, it helps to define what we mean by “qualities and skills.” Qualities include all those traits that define you as a person and an employee. They go to the heart of who you are as a person, and often separate mediocre employees from the truly exceptional hires. They are personal skills that most employers recognize as good job qualities for any work environment.
Skills come in two forms: hard skills and soft skills.
having the right combination of skills is key to passing the ATS scans. Learn how in our guide: 10 Vital Skills to Put on Your Resume & Stand Out
Hard skills are easy to define, as they include those technical skills that are often core requirements for a position.
Common hard skills include:
Programming (Java HTML)
SEO (search engine optimization)
And other skills that require training, certificates, or familiarity with specific programs and applications (Salesforce, AWS, Quickbooks).
Soft skills, on the other hand, are often as difficult to measure as your personality traits. They encompass a range of social skills that are often informed by your personal qualities.
Common soft skills include:
Hiring managers hate to see resume buzzwords and soft skills like "team player" or "communication skills." Instead of relying on these over-used terms listed on your resume, you need to show these soft skills indirectly through your work experience.
Instead of listing "time management," you can include something along the lines of "Managed a major development project that was delivered a month ahead of schedule..."
The top 15 skills and qualities employers are looking for
In our list of skills and qualities, we have tried to include those that are the most valuable. Obviously, there will be other qualities and skills that employers need as well, but these 15 stood out to our analysts.
Top technical skills
These are five top technical skills employers are sure to appreciate. Remember, technical skills are hard skills and can be measured and learned.
1. Cloud computing
Cloud-based information is rapidly becoming the go-to option for many top companies. As the world becomes more connected and digitalized, there is a growing need for employees who are comfortable working in the online cloud.
2. Data presentation
Do your skills include technical abilities involving data analysis and presentation? Congratulations! Our data-driven economy will increasingly need employees who can make sense of data sets and present them in clear, compelling terms.
In 2021, sharing your data is crucial. Be prepared to create charts, presentation slides, and interactive elements to showcase your data presentation skills.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A company’s online presence is only as good as its SEO. If you are skilled in the art of optimizing content so that search engines can find it, then it’s a certainty that some company out there needs your help!
4. Mobile development
Mobile technology is one of the hottest growth areas in the tech industry. With more mobile devices than ever before, businesses need experts who can develop mobile apps, adapt websites to mobile-compliance, and otherwise help them keep pace with an increasingly mobile world.
5. Network security
Around the world, networks are under attack from hackers, government entities, and other threats. Companies need competent professionals to provide network security. As a result, these cybersecurity experts will continue to be in demand for many years to come.
Top soft skills
The following five soft skills may seem familiar, since employers have long looked for employees who possess them. Nevertheless, they continue to be among the top qualities and skills that can make any employee stand out from the crowd. Soft skills are especially vital for resumes targeting remote positions.
Remember that you won't list these soft skills on your resume like hard skills, but indirectly through work experience and achievements.
The ability to communicate – whether verbally or in writing – continues to be vital for employee success. A great communicator can motivate others, make sense of any situation, and provide invaluable feedback.
Companies always need problem-solvers. The best problem-solvers are self-starters who can add real, measurable value to any organization. If you like new challenges and routinely notice and react proactively to problems, you’re a problem-solver.
The STAR format is a great way to explain your problem-solving skills on your resume and in your job interview.
8. Time management
The ability to manage time well is highly-prized these days. Are you adept at meeting deadlines, prioritizing tasks, and generally getting things done? If so, that skill needs to be described in your resume.
Organizational skills are in great demand. Companies are living things that have their own momentum. Unfortunately, left unattended, that momentum will trend toward chaos and disorder. An organized employee can positively impact an entire company and help it to stay on the right track.
10. Collaborative skills
Teamwork is critical in most organizations. Do you work well with others, both offline and online? If so, those collaboration skills will be highly appreciated by any employer lucky enough to have you.
Top qualities that make you more hirable
When it comes to personal traits, these five are among the most prized for employers and hiring managers.
You know what it is. Honesty is among the most important qualities and skills any person can have. It means not only telling the truth but avoiding omissions of pertinent information. Every employer wants honesty.
This is more important than ever in newly remote work environments. Display this skill by not lying on your resume and being upfront about your skills and experience.
While it is true that many companies are no longer as loyal as they were in the past, that doesn’t mean that loyalty is obsolete. In fact, employers still prize loyalty from their employees.
Are you someone who sticks with a task until the job is done? If you have grit and determination, there’s an employer looking for you.
14. Personal work ethic
This is one of those timeless qualities that every employer wants to see.
Are you always on time?
Are you conscientious about fulfilling your role in the company?
Do you faithfully follow company rules and commit to your job? That work ethic is always in demand.
15. Eagerness to learn and adapt
Since businesses today need to be flexible, they need flexible employees to help them succeed. If you are eager to learn, quick to adapt, and dedicated to personal growth, you have that flexibility. If you are also eager to share what you have learned, there’s an employer looking for your services.
The best employees will have the right combination of these personal qualities and skills--and know how to demonstrate them to employers.
How to use these skills on your resume
We have a separate guide devoted to the Best Skills to Put on Your Resume (And How!), but here are the highlights:
List your hard skills in a technical skills section or a core competencies section
Include your soft skills along with their results throughout your work experience section
The most important thing to remember is that employers are looking for skills that are relevant to the position you're targeting. Check the job description to see what skills are needed for the job. Then make sure they're included on your resume.
Adding a skills or core competencies section is the easiest way to include and tailor skills to each job application.
Here is an example (remember to list mostly hard skills on your resume):
Also, remember that most companies today use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen your resume. These systems automatically screen your resume to see if you're a good match for the position. An average of 75% of candidates are rejected by ATS and many times, the candidate is
Make sure that you use a standard resume format so that the ATS could easily read the resume. You should also include keywords (hard skills) that are relevant to the position.
Emphasize these skills and qualities in your cover letter and interview
Your resume should include your hard skills and your soft skills, but your cover letter and interview are the places to make your valuable qualities shine through.
Describe these qualities in your cover letter, using keywords from the job posting to describe how you meet the company’s needs.
Demonstrate these qualities and skills in your interactions with the company during the hiring process: any follow up messages, scheduling an interview, the initial phone screen, the interview itself, and your subsequent thank you note.
Be prepared to provide examples of how you have used these traits and skills in the past by using the STAR method. Write them down!
Including the right skills and qualities on your resume is important to do correctly! It's not enough to list your skills: employers want to know the context. Add results, numbers, and impact whenever possible and watch your impressive resume blow them away.
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers and career experts located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.