Top Skills Employers are Looking for in 2021

With many companies nearing their pre-pandemic hiring pace once again - the job market is booming. As you ramp up your job search, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to stand out from the crowd. In 2021, employers want more than someone who will just punch in and out. Hiring Managers are looking for candidates with dedication, motivation, and a willingness to learn - but what other skills are most important to employers? Most applicants who advance to the interview stage will have the hard skills required to do the job, so it's important to set yourself apart by highlighting the soft skills that make you a perfect fit. If you know what employers are looking for, you can tailor your interview style to showcase your strengths. Focus on fine-tuning your skills in these areas so you’re prepared to shine in your next interview.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What is the difference?

When we think about “hard skills” versus “soft skills,” often we’re referring to specific proficiencies or technical skills, versus more intangible skills, like time management or organizational skills. Employers often notice hard skills on a resume and soft skills in an interview. However, both are equally important to finding your perfect job fit. Job seekers often fall into the trap of thinking: hard skills can be learned, but with soft skills you either have it, or you don’t. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Even soft skills can be learned, or honed, through professional development courses or mindset shifts. By learning to be more organized, more creative, or even more of a leader, you will be more prepared to find your dream job.

8 Top Skills Employers Look For Infographic

8 Top Skills Employers Look For

An Empathetic, Human-First Approach

Now more than ever, employers are looking for Emotional Intelligence in an employee. AI is on the rise - but one thing computers cannot replace is the ability to approach problems from a human perspective. Recent changes in the hiring market have led to a greater focus on employee wellbeing, work/life balance, and fostering empathetic work environments. Employers want team members who will be able to handle stress and work well with others. Plus, Emotional Intelligence can help performance. It will help you to think of the emotional drivers behind consumer activity, to determine the best leadership style to help your team and to improve listening and retention skills.  In an interview: Share stories of successful collaborations or mentors you’ve connected with. Let the interviewer see how you think, how you approach problem-solving, and how you have managed stress in a previous role.

Resilience and Adaptability

If 2020 taught us anything, it was how to be resilient and adaptable. Hiring Managers are weighing this heavily when making new hires. They might be asking themselves: Will this person be able to adapt easily in the event of a huge market shift? In the case of budget cuts, will they be able to adapt and take on more of a hybrid role, or assist another department? For this reason, many positions have become hybrid roles. For example, A Front Office Coordinator who can also assist an executive or a Marketing Associate who can also manage social media. In an interview: Mention times you’ve been able to wear many hats or quickly adapt to a changing work environment. Employers will appreciate that you’re able to handle ambiguity and stay resilient, positive, and focused on the work that needs to be done.

Project Management

Many roles require some degree of project management - whether it’s managing your to-do list or helping your team to stay on top of their priorities. There are many free, easy-to-use project management apps you can utilize. Once you feel proficient in the app, you can include it on your resume as a hard skill. Plus, using it will help you feel more organized, and it may even give you a leg up on the competition. If an employer knows their team heavily relies on ClickUp, for example, your proficiency may help you stand out from the crowd. In an interview: Feel free to directly mention the project management app you use to keep yourself or your team organized. If an interviewer asks how you prioritize your workload, your project management skills will make you better equipped to answer.

Tech Savviness

In 2021, most roles require some degree of tech competency. Whether it's understanding the difference between iOS/Windows operating systems, knowing how your retail store’s new POS functions, or using an employee portal for time off requests, our evolving technical landscape requires users who can keep up. If you spend time brushing up on the latest technologies - you will be ahead of the competition. Depending on your role and industry, the needs will vary, but basic tech literacy will make you a better employee. You will be able to work smarter, not harder, and it will increase your employer’s confidence in you. You should continuously upgrade yourself and your tech knowledge with ongoing learning, experimenting, and curiosity. In an interview: You’ll be able to speak about your newfound tech skills with confidence. The more you know, the more of an asset you’ll become.

Ability to Self-Manage

This is especially important in remote work environments. Employers want to know that you will stay on task, even when working remotely or apart from your team. This means you are reliable, available during the hours you say you will be and meeting KPIs or other performance goals.If this is not your area of expertise, consider looking for on-site positions. Know what leadership style you respond best to. Do you prefer management who is very hands-on, or do you prefer to self-manage? Make sure you are searching for roles that suit your preferred style, and apply! In an interview: Speak candidly about your work style. This will help you and your potential employer determine whether or not the role will be a good match.  


Employers want to hire candidates who are passionate about their brand and mission, and therefore feel dedicated to its success. They don’t want to hire applicants who applied for the job blindly. They want to hire candidates who spent time researching the company and its mission or applied because of the organization’s focus on social responsibility. Dedication also comes from your work ethic. If you are a go-getter who gives everything to every job, make it known! Employers will love having that positive energy around the office. In an interview: Mention the specific things about the company, or the job itself, that excites you. Emphasize your strong work ethic and commitment by talking about your long-term goals and how this position fits your path.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Being an effective communicator is essential to any role. Pairing communication skills with interpersonal skills means you can understand your audience and tailor your communication style to fit. You should also spend time improving your writing skills, as it’s very common for Hiring Managers to seek writing samples or tests. If proper grammar isn’t your strong suit, get familiar with Grammarly. In an interview: Your communication style will come through automatically. How you handle yourself and how eloquently you’re able to speak to your experiences will be evident, so be sure to practice your answers to common interview questions ahead of time! Remember, confidence comes from preparation.

Willingness to Learn

We all have gaps in our knowledge or experience, but a willingness to learn is paramount to your success. Employers want to hire people who are upfront about their blind spots, but eager to learn more. Having a student mentality means you’re never done learning. Commit to taking courses, attending panels, and networking with experts in your field to broaden the scope of your knowledge. You never know who you’ll meet along the way! In an interview: Mention classes you’ve taken recently or classes you’re interested in taking. If you aren’t familiar with a certain job requirement, show your excitement over the opportunity to learn something new.


In 2021, employers care about more than what skills you put on your resume. They want to get to know you, your work style, and your personality to see if it will be a good fit. At Career Group Companies, our recruiting experts are happy to guide you through the process. We take a hands-on approach to each search, ensuring every match is a perfect culture fit for both parties and offer personalized interview coaching. Browse our current openings to find your next opportunity.

Career Group Companies

LinkedIn logo

Founded in 1981 by Susan Levine, Career Group Companies was created to set a higher standard for recruiting. For over four decades, we’ve partnered with our valued candidates and clients to cultivate perfect career matches for administrative, creative, fashion, events, and executive professionals at top companies nationwide.

Land your dream job

Getting your foot in the door with an amazing company can be a challenge. Our recruiting experts are ready to help you land your next dream role.

Browse Jobs

Hire your dream team

With over 40 years of recruitment experience, we know we can help. We can offer insight into market rates and long-term team structuring, while acting as your strategic hiring partners.

Hire Talent