Anyone who has ever done a job interview will be familiar with being questioned about the skills they can bring to the job. Yet so many struggle to answer this question. This section discusses four key attributes that employers are looking to find in their employees.
In October 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a white paper entitled Resetting the Future of Work Agenda: Disruption and Renewal in a Post-COVID World. Within this report were Skills for Employment 2025, and the highest rated of these was the ability to think, specifically referred to in the report as Analytical Thinking and Innovation. This may seem simple and extremely obvious but it was joined in the list of the top 5 in-demand skills by similarly-linked abilities such as Complex Problem Solving (number 3) and Critical Thinking and Analysis (number 4). Being able to think creatively and analyse details thoroughly to contribute to solving problems and find ways to improve the working environment around you are consistently highly sought-after skills for work.
The WEF’S report also emphasises the importance of having the initiative to learn new skills and take responsibility for this learning. Using data from the online course provider Coursera, the report states “There has been a four-fold increase in the numbers of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative, a five-fold increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers and a nine-fold enrolment increase for learners accessing online learning through government programmes.” Companies have invested in up-skilling and re-skilling programmes for their workers, but the fact that some workers choose to do this independently shows that many workers wish to improve their qualifications and employability. As both employers and employees attempt to improve the range of skills of workers across the working world, the ability to take initiative and learn from one’s own desire to improve is hugely important.
Social and emotional intelligence
It is interesting to note how many of the top 15 skills of 2025 rely on what we would refer to as human skills rather than skills generated through the adoption of AI or machine learning. Leadership and Social Influence and Emotional Intelligence are also quoted as skills for contributing to a successful working environment. While working in teams, it’s important to have an understanding of the people you are working with, how they are thinking and how their approach to a given task may differ to yours. Combining these skills to demonstrate an analytical, creative and emotionally intelligent thought process will lead to more success at work. If you are interviewing for a role, being able to articulate to prospective employers that you can bring these specific skills to the job will go a long way towards convincing them that you are the right person for the job.
It is estimated that the average person will change careers at least four times in their life. Many of the skills that you gained in your first career will be directly transferable to your next and subsequent careers. It is accurate to say that resilience and flexibility or persuasion and negotiation will be as relevant to someone working in a career in retail as they would be to someone working in engineering or teaching, or just about any other career you can mention. Whether you are analysing information, writing code or engaging in customer service, there are a set of transferable skills that will be useful anywhere. These are not role or career sector specific but are part of what you can bring to any role you are applying and interviewing for.
The aforementioned items for this discussion on the future of work are all relevant and very important to come to grips with. The future of automation is especially important, as the balance of jobs done manually and automatically is being worked towards by businesses worldwide, which the WEF’s report has shown. The human factor to the working world is not being completely forgotten, as if it were there would not be divisions across the working world on the extent to which office working should return. Crucially however, the skills sought by employers will remain the same regardless of whether employees work from home or not. The same ideas of creativity and leadership may simply be emphasised in importance due to the new thinking that has taken hold and will continue to take off in the working world.