The beginning of 2020 can mark the start of a new job search for many. Here, Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, tells us the essential skills that employers will be looking for in the new year.

The world of recruitment is constantly changing to keep up with new trends and technologies. This means that, as the working world progresses, recruiters and employers must shift their search and place value on new skills to keep up with the demands of the workplace.

In 2016, The World Economic Forum reported on the key skills that they expected employers to look for by 2020 due to the introduction of technology and AI in the workplace, which they have named the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Their prediction was that UK businesses would be seeing bigger developments in robotics and computing, which will alter the way we work. And, almost four years on, their predictions have already come true.

Going into 2020, we can expect to see an increased focus on flexibility and interpersonal relationships in order to keep up with the fast-paced changes to the workplace. To give you a better idea of what employers will be looking for in the new year, I’ll be going into more detail about the key skills that most roles will require.

Complex problem solving

New technologies are constantly being introduced to the world of business and industry. The likes of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR) are quickly transforming the working landscape. So, employers need their workers to be able to keep up with the changes and adapt along with them. And, with all this technology comes a whole host of new complex problems. In 2020, employers will be looking for candidates who can find these problems and fix them, as well as come up with solutions to prevent cyberthreats and breakdowns in the first instance.

Critical thinking and judgement

Not all solutions will be the best option for everyone, so candidates will also be expected to remain critical of their own ideas (and the ideas of their colleagues) to help them judge which are the most appropriate. Some solutions may result in a lot of downtime or may not be completely viable. So, candidates will need to prove that they can filter out the weakest ideas and build on the strongest ones to figure out which option is the most efficient or beneficial. This means employees will need to have a deep understanding about the effects their ideas will have and have an understanding of their own abilities to ensure they can carry out their solutions.

Creative thinking and cognitive flexibility

The reality for businesses today is that it can take a lot to stand out. So, whether it’s for marketing campaigns or internal processes, employers will be on the hunt for candidates who can think outside the box to come up with creative solutions and ideas.

But it’s not just a creative mind that employers will be looking for — they’ll also want candidates to be cognitively flexible. This means that employees will need to be able to make the switch from critical to creative thinking depending on the situation. Employers want to know that their employees can take information on board and use it in the most suitable way.  

Emotional intelligence and people management

In recent years, many employers have been putting systems in place to protect the happiness and wellbeing of their staff. Going into 2020, recruiters and employers will be looking for emotionally intelligent candidates who can show empathy and a willingness to support their co-workers without judgement. These candidates will be able to think deeply about how their decisions will affect the company as a whole, in order to find the best solutions that can benefit everyone.

Communication and negotiation

No matter what industry they’re in, employers will be looking for candidates with great social skills that allow them to negotiate. This isn’t necessarily negotiation in a business sense, but employees will need to know how to resolve conflict by talking things through and being able to compromise. The workplace will have a much bigger focus on service and the communication between customers, clients and the company. And, in a time when technology and AI are finding more of a presence in the workplace, interpersonal skills are becoming even more important for employers.

As we move into the new year, recruiters and employers will be on the hunt for certain skills. In order to keep up with the ever-changing world of business and industry, candidates will be expected to have a flexible and open way of thinking, as well as strong interpersonal skills in order to succeed.