Whilst digitisation has evolved many roles and responsibilities in recent years, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the speed at which companies have been forced to mobilise their digital efforts and workplace operations, and consequently has impacted in-demand skills amongst job seekers.
A global survey by SaaS company Twilio found that COVID-19 has accelerated companies’ digital communication strategies by an average of six years, due to nearly every industry having to reimagine how it talks to customers, and how its workplace functions. To remain in-demand, jobseekers must be prepared to know how to continuously update a CV to match the demands of change in the wake of COVID-19, and to keep pace with these new technological forces.
What are the top tech skills and priorities in 2021?
The abrupt adoption of new working patterns as well as heightened economic uncertainty have forced tech leaders to shift their focus towards risk reduction and cost efficiency, with longer-term strategic projects more likely to be deferred. According to recent research by Robert Half1, the top five priorities among CIOs and CTOs going into 2021 include:
- Maintaining IT security of systems and safeguarding company information (44%)
- Cost reduction/balancing budgets (40%)
- Automating processes to increase productivity and reduce costs (38%)
- Innovation and investing in new technologies (37%)
- Cloud projects/initiatives (36%)
The transition to decentralised workforces with relaxed bring-your-own-device (BYOD) rules to help facilitate remote work as a result of COVID-19 has also led to a significantly elevated risk of cyber-attacks and data fraud, with 94% of enterprises reporting a breach in the 12 months to July 2020, according to a VMWare Carbon Black survey.
This has driven strong demand for professionals with IT security skills, while accelerated digitalisation has concurrently boosted demand in related areas of IT management, big data and the cloud. Amongst employers looking to hire seasonal or temporary staff going into 2021 recently surveyed by Robert Half, 48% are prioritising IT professionals. Similarly, for permanent roles, the most challenging IT skills to find coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns are:
- IT security (32%)
- IT management (30%)
- Project management (18%)
- Business intelligence (16%)
- Cloud technology (15%)
Top finance and accounting tech skills
Technology skills are also becoming more important within the finance and accounting industries, as businesses embrace working from home and continue to press forward with digital transformation. Research by Robert Half found that digital transformation (38%) and harnessing big data (34%) will be the top priorities among CFOs in 2021. According to the latest Robert Half Salary Guide, the most in-demand technical skills in the finance and accounting sector are:
- ACCA/CIMA/ACA newly qualified (< 5 years experience)
- ERP/SAP expertise
- Data analysis/forecasting
- Process and control implementation experience
- Cloud-based software system expertise (Xero, Sage, Netsuite)
- Financial modelling
Upskill and retrain to boost hiring value
As the marketplace becomes ever more competitive, employers are recognising the value of embedding a culture of continuous learning and entrepreneurship in the workplace. For employees and jobseekers, investing in continuous upskilling will help your CV stay relevant, agile and desirable, not to mention help your CV stand out in the crowd.
It is always worthwhile starting with a skills self-assessment, as candidates often underestimate how their existing knowledge can be useful to an employer. Updating your CV with any recently acquired skills will also help you identify where potential gaps exist.
Fortunately, training and upskilling opportunities come in many different forms and need not be expensive or time-consuming. They include:
- Online courses. Training through an online platform enables you to access lessons remotely. It can be done live in a virtual classroom setting or through pre-recorded learning materials.
- Microlearning. Instead of months-long courses and new certifications, upskilling can be done gradually through microlearning, which utilises small learning units and short-term activities.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) learning. This is an informal learning method that can include learning opportunities like employee-led workshops, sharing reading recommendations and team projects.
- Mentoring. Pairing up with a team member via a mentoring arrangement can allow you to work on a variety of projects and programs, giving you the opportunity to upskill by contributing in a meaningful way, which can be done in-person, or remotely, using video-conferencing tools.
- Industry knowledge. In-demand technical and soft skills can be found through leveraging industry expertise. The Robert Half Salary Guide, for example, offers valuable job market insights that will help you update your CV for the current climate.
Updating your CV with the right tech skills
Moving into the post-COVID-19 era (or at the very least, the next ‘new normal’), companies will likely be on the hunt for CVs that demonstrate experience with in-demand technology tools which can meet the digital needs of the business. This also means that knowledge and skills in areas such as collaboration platforms, remote learning, filesharing and virtual events will become essential for a majority of employees in the future.
Promoting tech literacy on a CV in a way that is brief yet concise can be a challenge, particularly to keep up with the pace at which technology changes and influences job responsibilities. Here are some tips for how to update a CV effectively:
- Don’t overdo it. With technology, it is common for candidates to believe that the more technical terms they include, the better they’ll come across. Almost always, it’s better to stick to the most essential keywords that are directly relevant to the advertised job description.
- Categorise. Separate your skills into categories that will be familiar to employers, such as operating systems, programming tools, databases and networks.
- Order by importance. Rather than listing them alphabetically, it’s better to list skills in order of relevance to the role you are applying for or have in mind as your primary career objective.
- Include soft skills. With companies increasingly aiming to build a resilient, adaptable, and agile workforce, non-technical skills such as creative thinking, emotional intelligence, a positive mindset as well as the ability to adapt to change are among the top traits employers will be focusing on.
- Delete outdated skills. Remember to remove any skills that aren’t relevant, are obsolete, or ‘obvious’ skills (such as email) to the type of job you are pursuing, as they can make your CV too long and harder to scan.
Businesses have had to learn and adapt quickly throughout the current crisis and will be even more focused on recruiting the best talent. Demonstrating that you are actively keeping up with technological change, and are ready for the future of work, will help make your application shine.
Whether you’re in the process of upskilling for a new career or actively searching for a new job, regularly updating your CV will help to ensure you’re ready when the right job opportunity appears.
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1Based on Robert Half-commissioned research amongst 1,502 respondents using an online data collection methodology during July 2020. This was comprised of 300 interviews in Belgium, 300 in Brazil, 301 in France, 300 in Germany, and 301 in the United Kingdom. Respondents included General Managers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers with hiring responsibilities across small (50-249 employees), medium (250-499) and large (500+ employees) from private, publicly listed, and public sector businesses across the five countries.