The employment landscape has been rewritten by the COVID-19 pandemic. To stand out and succeed, experts say job seekers need to show they can adapt to challenges and have digital acumen.
From the moment the pandemic struck, the skills needed at associations changed.
Associations looking for new talent want to make sure they hire staff who can rise to today’s challenges, while job seekers want to make sure they have the skills employers are looking for. To get a lay of this new landscape, I spoke with two Association CareerHQ experts about the skills most in need in today’s world. Both said it is all about adaptability and digital acumen.
“We have all reinvented ourselves as leaders and managers,” said Association CareerHQ Lead Consultant Dany Bourjolly Smith, SHRM-SCP, founder of DB Smith Consulting. “Things like creativity, flexibility, and adaptability are becoming required skills. Our ability to innovate overnight has been amazing. It has forced people to develop skills in a very unique way.”
Since social-distancing mandates and virus concerns have forced most associations to provide their programs and services digitally, that skill has jumped to the top of the list.
“One thing that has become very needed is digital acumen,” Smith said. “It’s a twofold skill: being able to have the technical capability to learn and use these tools, whether it is Zoom or Skype or Intrado, and to use it in a way we haven’t had to challenge ourselves to use these skills before.”
Smith said associations want people who can adapt quickly in unexpected situations. “We are having to prioritize our day differently,” Smith said. “So, the questions that employers now need to be asking are around how people are energized; how they are prioritizing things; and how they are making the difference between needed, necessary, and urgent.”
Smith gave an example of a question employers might ask to assess an applicant’s ability to adapt: “Share how you embraced a new system, process, technology, or idea at work that was a major departure from the old way of doing things,” she said.
The interview stage, which is increasingly happening via video technology, will allow candidates to show off some of their digital acumen.
“You’re likely to have screening early on in Zoom,” said Association CareerHQ Coach Cynthia Mills, CMC, CPC, CCRC, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of The Leaders Haven. “Being comfortable in video, on Zoom, is important to you being able to present yourself.”
That means interviewees must do all the small things to look good on camera, including lighting, framing your shot, and looking appropriate for this medium. “Be sure your posture is open and don’t overdo gestures,” Mills said. “When you’re on video, you have to project more than when you’re on the phone. You have to practice that. Literally record yourself.”
Smith seconds the notion of practicing. “When you think about what you put into a live interview, you need to have that same process for a video interview,” she said. “I recommend for people to practice in person. Smile. When you smile when you’re talking, it takes your energy level up in a way that is significant.”
Also remember that employers will extrapolate how well you handle your on-camera interview to how well you’ll do with members or other clients. “You are able to pick up how well they are able to get on Skype or Zoom, how they are able to express themselves,” Smith said. “It tells a lot about how they are going to execute their job.”
Unfortunately, a lack of digital savvy can hurt a candidate’s chances. “Some people have not fared as well remotely,” Smith said. “I’m not saying that in a negative way. The reality is, some people do not like this work from home experience at all. You have to put it into your evaluation of candidates, of whether they will be able to be successful at your organization.”
What job skills do you think are most needed in today’s world? Share in the comments.