AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

There's a number of critical job skills that hiring managers always want to see on candidates' resumes. A creative, team-oriented worker with communication skills, problem-solving abilities, attention to detail and a strong adherence to deadlines, for example, is attractive for hiring managers across all industries. 

But, in 2021, human resource managers around the world agreed that self-management skills are the most important of them all, according to research from the World Economic Forum. This includes active learning, stress tolerance and flexibility, for example.

After a tumultuous 2020 wracked by COVID-19 and the ensuing devastating economic state of the country, many managers have recognized the importance of employees' abilities to work independently from home, with limited resources and support, through tough times. This year, self-management is still critical to navigating society's "new normal" and solving the complex problems we've never before faced. 

For job-seekers searching for employment in 2021, demonstrating self-management in resumes, cover letters and interviews could be what sets them apart from the competition.

Discussing the lessons you've learned from mistakes, talking about unprecedented problems you've helped solve in the past and explaining how you manage your time wisely, hold yourself accountable and keep yourself motivated even without the support of a team around could be game-changing. Managers want to see that not only are you willing to confront complicated situations and do great work on your own, but also that you've done it — at least to some degree — before. 

Sure, 2020 introduced a whole new level of change, but you should be able to share concrete examples of how you've grappled with change before. Doing your research to find out what pressing issues the company is currently facing will help you decide specifically what to share on your resume, in your cover letter and during your interview.

But maybe you can't think of anything. Of course, self-management skills don't come easy to all of us. For some, they may take time to develop. A big chunk of job-seekers will have work cut out for them going into the new year. In fact, half of us will need to reskill in the next five years, as the "double-disruption of the economic impacts of the pandemic and increasing automation transforming jobs takes hold," according to the report. But cultivating these critical self-management skills is still possible, even if not natural.

"We have the tools at our disposal,"  writes the World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman, Professor Klaus Schwab, in the report. "The bounty of technological innovation, which defines our current era, can be leveraged to unleash human potential. We have the means to reskill and upskill individuals in unprecedented numbers, to deploy precision safety nets, which protect displaced workers from destitution, and to create bespoke maps, which orient displaced workers towards the jobs of tomorrow where they will be able to thrive."

Whether it means taking online classes or taking charge of a project that inspires you, now is the time to do it. As Ryan Holmes,  chairman and co-founder at Hootsuite writes in a newsletter about the new research, the answer to up-leveling self-management skills starts with "embracing the idea of 'hustle.'"

"At its core, hustle is about finding a way," he writes. "It’s understanding that the buck stops with you. This could mean buckling down, or getting creative, or thinking laterally … but you find a way."

So find a way to practice self-management, and be sure to talk about it in your job search. It could be what lands you your next job in 2021.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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