Article: 5 most critical skillsets that will help professionals in 2021


5 most critical skillsets that will help professionals in 2021

Industry situation may change and the economy and culture may also change but, there are some essential skills that every professionals will need to have to get ahead.
5 most critical skillsets that will help professionals in 2021

The year 2020 has been disruptive, unbalanced, and completely volatile to say the least. A lot of people lost their jobs and a lot of graduates find themselves in waiting lines for vacancies. While there was a scarcity of job opportunities in the industry, there is also a world parallel where leading companies across various industry sectors are hiring, however, the skillsets that they are looking at have transformed drastically. One of the most effective ways to provide enormous opportunities for acquiring and learning valuable life skills.

Industry situation may change and the economy and culture may also change but, there are some essential skills that every professionals will need to have to get ahead.

1. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is clearly self-directed and self-disciplined, so you will need to be able to think for yourself in a realistic and meaningful way. One must be able to think for yourself is a critical skill at a time where the concept of career and the workplace is changing. 

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” – Albert Einstein

This generation is going to need to go beyond taking notes and remembering information for important exams. They will need education teaching them to think for themselves and solve problems in real-time. Developing this ability early on will only stand to benefit today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders.

2. Adaptability

Navigating with emerging trends and technologies is something most professionals need to do in their daily lives. While this can ultimately make life easier, it often comes with new circumstances. A fine example of this is how several companies use modern technology to further their global presence. This results in top-tier companies encouraging their employees to work from home and take full advantage of the automation and digitization.

Working directly with an employee who lives in a different time zone could be just one of many adjustments the next generation will experience in their regular work culture. The next generations will need to be able to adapt and be flexible with the changes.

3. Excellent communication skills

Excellent communication skills both written and verbal are important, both in person and online. The next generation is going to need to excel in these and every now and again this will include having to lead the conversation. As mentioned above, there might be special circumstances to navigate, such as key members of a team who live in different locations.This is only one of the many scenarios that might mean people will need to be multifaceted and learn how to communicate using latest technologies.

4. Cultural understanding

A deeper cultural understanding can lead to interactions that are more positive, better collaboration, and truly diverse conversations. Given that Generation Z is often stated as one of the most diverse generations to date, there will be a wider variety of voices and perspectives in the future workplace.

Cultural understanding has been a key part of progress in most cultures. With international business, an important aspect of modern life, large companies in top industries are embracing and teaching this to their employees. Companies like Google, ESDS, Novartis, and Coca-Cola are well - known for their diversity initiatives.

5. Initiative and drive

While competition is a normal part of achieving success in life, the world is more connected now than ever so many will be competing on a much more global stage than previous generations might have. We need to consider the fact that this will mean that professionals  will need to strive to compete with the challenging market globally.

The pandemic has led to a realization to the hiring managers, HR leaders, and C-suite officers that acquiring a resource amid the current scenario is definitely for the long haul. Also, with the world witnessing a drastic change, it is the need of the hour to be prepared in advance for any unsolicited crisis that may occur. 

  • Core leadership skills. “The key to adaptability, virtual collaboration, and digital transformation (and agile) is distributed leadership and self-managed teams. ...
  • AI and machine learning. ...
  • Video conferencing. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Cybersecurity and data science.

The year 2020 more than anything has made people more aware that companies require employees who are adaptable and are more generalists than specialists. 2021 will see these five skill sets as deal-breakers while hiring across industries:- 


Future readiness is a term tossed around these days to signify professionals who are ready to cope with change and technology updation. However, today HR managers are looking for people who can predict the upcoming changes and trends. By predicting and staying ahead of the curve, professionals learn and unlearn thought processes and prepare their minds for what’s to come before the actual event. 

Cognitive flexibility: 

A recent World economic forum mapped that several skill sets and traits are required in the future. Cognitive abilities such as creativity and adaptability score quite high in their survey. The survey concluded with over 9 different industry-leading companies participating across 15 global economies. 

Innovation and Creativity:

Innovation and Creativity both are generic term and can be used loosely. However, in the most certain sense, it entails bringing something to the table that is similar to fitting square pegs in round holes with the help of a design tool. Innovation can be a survival skill in the most changing industry. Creativity is not just thinking outside the box, but also the implementation and feasibility part of it. Today millions of ideas get thrown in the waste paper basket, however, only an idea with a solid feasibility foundation finds its way to the next board meeting. 


Adaptability in itself is a life-saving survivor instinct. Many companies and industries which were destined for triple-digit growth figures have perished during the pandemic and many which were barely floating have seen huge signs of improvement due to the way they have adapted to the new normal.

Emotional intelligence: 

With the emergence of AI, machine learning, and other behavioral sciences, leaders and professionals are expected to have strong emotional intelligence and take decisions rationally. For team leaders, managers, and senior management, the emotional quotient coupled with empathy is a trait that all the CXOs are looking for in their people. 

Strong emotional intelligence not just helps us understand how we deal with a sensitive situation and how we feel about our emotions, but also helps motivate and lead our team members using positive emotions, goals, and objectives.

Master the Digital and Virtual realm:

The year 2021 will all be about ideas, innovations, people’s skills, and implementation of products/services in the digital and virtual space. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can simply no longer afford to ignore the contribution of the digital transformation in our personal and professional lives. Seamlessly handling oneself on a zoom call, connecting and presenting over different conferencing tools, using AR, VR, and other digital tools for the storytelling, product launches, pitch presentations, and digital consulting skills will be the skillsets possessing huge demand hereafter. 

An entrepreneurial mind set:

Entrepreneurs take a calculated risk and are not afraid to make difficult decisions. One of the most significant skillsets that a hiring manager is looking at, is critical thinking with the ease of making decisions. In a post COVID world, if we are to navigate and sail through dark waters, companies are expecting people who are not afraid of making big decisions and taking risks.

An entrepreneur also takes into account other aspects of the business such as ownership and responsibility, vigilant client- employee dynamics, compliance, and other factors that affect the business.  

Skillsets keep changing as per industry and business requirements. It is indeed noteworthy that in 2020 blockchain has topped LinkedIn's in-demand skills list, and business analysis (now #6) climbed 10 spots since 2019.

  • Blockchain. davidmcbee/Pexels. ...
  • Cloud and distributed computing. Coursera. ...
  • Analytical reasoning. ...
  • Artificial Intelligence. ...
  • UX design. ...
  • Business analysis. ...
  • Affiliate marketing. ...
  • Sales.

This skillset is also essential for people in the service industry or consulting firms who need to counsel and guide their clients on the trends and disruptions in the future by being proactive.

Professionals must be flexible, adaptable and be ready to cope with new challenges and market needs. Change is a continuous process and leaders adopt changes with guts and grace.


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Topics: Skilling, #GuestArticle, #Outlook2021

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