Core strengths needed to succeed in the new world of work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While the Covid pandemic shook the job market in a way that no other crisis has, there is some good news on the horizon: jobs are back. According to the India Hiring Tracker Q4 FY21 report, hiring saw a strong pick up towards the end of March this year. As many as 64% of all employers hired talent between January and March 2021, with healthcare, e-commerce, and financial services sectors leading the way.

While the big picture is certainly positive, the report’s broad findings also point to an important reality: the nature of jobs in the new normal simply isn’t what it used to be. The pandemic has left a lasting imprint on work. It has forced the world to be more agile and effective in getting the job done. So, the skills and opportunities that people are hiring for are very different from what they were just a few years ago. Job seekers are entering a vastly different job market than what they had trained for. These changes are already making their presence felt everywhere. It is safe to say that all jobs, whether in construction or computer science, will be markedly different. Professionals will find themselves adapting in new ways as operations, approaches, and entire industries evolve quickly.

Responding to this shift in work requires you to develop three core strengths.

Pick up tech skills

The pandemic has given technology a front and centre role in our lives. From digital analytics informing Covid management strategies to the almost overnight rise of online collaboration, the last two years have made us more reliant on tech than ever. Tech is also becoming omnipresent as an operational force as companies find themselves having to do with fewer hands to do more work. With supply chains disrupted, organisations are leveraging AI and ML to find innovative new ways to create value with fewer resources, and industrial use of tools like sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (AI & ML) and more has exploded.

The rise of online operations has shifted the focus away from physical offices to digital collaboration capabilities. Though work from home began out of compulsion, the seamlessness of digital platforms has permanently cemented their value. A look at our own lifestyles will reveal how much tech we use and take for granted. All this means that employees must embrace tech so that they can continue creating value for their organisations.

The quantum leap in the computing power we’re putting to work has also triggered a quantum leap in the demand for tech talent. In the quarter of January-March 2021, technical roles – including Mobile App Developers, CAD/CAM Engineers, Database Administrators, and Medical Coders – accounted for a significant 18% of the positions that Indian companies hired for. The other roles that were in demand were those of Application Developers, Lead Consultants, Salesforce Developers, and Site Reliability Engineers. As we have seen even before the pandemic, software’s ability to create exciting business opportunities is growing fast. It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that some amount of skilling in job-critical software is no more a best practice anymore, but a way of life.

Develop operational capabilities

Once upon a time, not too long ago, companies sought out strategic, macro-level thinkers. Visionaries. People who could design the blueprint for the company's success. That has fundamentally changed. Organisations big and small face two challenges: navigating through the pandemic, and then succeeding in the post-pandemic economy. People who understand the company and its products and processes in a more granular way can find new ways to adapt, respond, and reimagine new possibilities. They can draw on their deep product and market knowledge to find creative ways to sustain growth. They can find ways to navigate supply chain challenges, price pressures, and all the other challenges that the pandemic has brought forward.

A business-as-usual approach just isn’t enough. The need for more hands-on, operational capabilities also reflects the need for companies to be agile and nimble - something impossible until their people can reconsider every aspect of their operations. An MBA alone simply isn't enough because there is simply no precedent to what the world is facing today. Job seekers must look for internship and career opportunities that give them more hands-on experience before they can aspire to climb the job ladder. For professionals, it means recognizing that they are now being measured against the tangible, operational value they create, and upskilling themselves to do more on that front.

Set the tone with soft skills

The pandemic has forced organisations to finally shed the old-world ways of working in siloed-off departments. They don't have the luxury of predictable business plans. Instead, a competitive and sometimes volatile business environment is pushing companies to go to market faster, even as they rely on processes leaner than ever before.

As a result, if an organisation seeks to be competitive, its people will have to collaborate, no matter which workstream or speciality they belong to.

But collaboration is impossible without soft skills. How else will, for example, an accounts person explain the quantified and complex pros and cons of the company's next product decision to marketing people? In difficult times, people need to be swift, decisive, and use each other's capabilities to the best - and that can only happen if they can communicate well.

Soft skills also mean being able to create consensus among radically different functions, and to bring and keep people on the same page. It is the cornerstone of people management and getting the best out of everyone. Job seekers would do well to develop and hone as many soft skills as possible. While the pandemic has diminished interactions to a minimum, soft skills will soon give leaders a competitive advantage.

Looking forward

According to the Indeed report, most entry-level and junior-level job seekers, as well as doctoral graduates, prefer to work for MNCs and large companies. Job seekers are equally keen on working with startups and SMEs. Clearly, these are the kind of companies where competition for jobs is going to be at its toughest. Companies, meanwhile, are perfectly willing to hire great talent at a premium rather than settle for average talent at a lesser salary.

As India Inc gets more agile and increasingly digital in how it conducts business, we will see more demand for technology and operations-based jobs. In a world where tech and situational disruptions can quickly spur the development of new products, these capabilities will define success. At the same time, a more collaborative work culture will need employees with great soft skills. Together, these capabilities will allow candidates to stand out from the crowd. For currently employed professionals, these can be the stepping-stone for a rich, fulfilling journey.

To conclude, in the words of Socrates, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

The India Hiring Tracker Q4 FY21 survey was conducted by Valuevox, on behalf of Indeed, among 350 businesses and 500 employees across nine Indian cities in March 2021. Employers were segregated into cities, and further into large, medium, and small organizations, and then into sectors. The employees in this survey were categorized by organization size, hierarchical level, education, gender, and age groups.

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