Work Skills You Need to Have After COVID-19

See also: Freelancer Top Tips

Since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., about 25 million people have lost their jobs, and the U.S. economy is in a recession. For how long it will remain this way, no one really knows, especially with another wave of COVID-19 on the horizon. Eventually, though, the economy will recover, and recruiters will once again look to fill all those empty positions.

According to the World Economic Forum, employees will need to have a more expansive skill set, one that includes futuristic thought processes and problem-solving.

To better prepare yourself for that first interview, begin developing the following skills now.

1. Anticipation

Anticipation is one of the most valuable skills you can have in the workplace and, today, recruiters are searching for candidates who have mastered this skill. In terms of everyday anticipation, practically everyone has this skill. Each morning you wake up and anticipate what will happen.

For example, maybe you anticipate a change in the market, so you pivot your business plan. On a slightly smaller scale, let’s say you believe you won't have time to close a sale, so you set your priorities for the day to ensure you close it before the end of the workday. Because you anticipated these events based on signals of possible futures, you're better prepared to face them.

While this skill is helpful in your day-to-day life, it may seem inconsequential, especially when the result of not anticipating rain is simply wet clothes. However, in the modern office, this skill is invaluable.

By anticipating future occurrences with the understanding that the world is constantly changing, you can modify your actions and behaviors to shape present decisions. In the end, this helps the entire company.

2. Adaptability

Of course, recruiters are also looking to hire those who can adapt if their anticipation was faulty and things go south. Adaptability allows you to see the opportunity in a situation and still use creativity and flexibility even if present circumstances look bleak.

As people and industries begin to re-adapt to life after the pandemic, it’s important to ride the wave of change. Adaptability is an important skill to have as employers move towards more remote positions, change of office regulations or new growth strategies after COVID-19. Most importantly, new emergency response plans will be a priority among new protocols to become familiarized with.

Even before the pandemic, adaptability was a key mark of a good employee. Now, though, businesses need adaptable people more than ever. To cope with and capitalize on the major changes COVID-19 has brought about, both employees and their bosses must learn to adapt. Better yet, they'll use the skills they already have to make something good of a dire situation and emerge even more stable on the other side.

3. Future Literacy

Generally, literacy refers to the ability to read and write, and companies certainly need people who can do both. Nowadays, employers are also seeking those with future literacy, or employees who can imagine the future and understand why doing so is essential. As evidenced by the pandemic, the world can change in a matter of days and, with it, the global economy. Thus, it's essential to hire those who can overcome present bias and imagine futures that very few consider probable.

The term also encompasses financial and digital literacy as both involve imagining and harnessing the power of the future. Employees who can imagine alternate futures can better prepare a business for future crises. However, there's currently a major digital skills gap, especially in the U.K., where the economy needs 750,000 more people who are future literate in internet technologies.

To improve your future literacy and sharpen your digital and financial literacy skills, begin studying market trends and take classes for coding, internet technology and the future of both. Once you have a good grasp of where the world is right now, you can begin to imagine possible futures and how you might prepare for each one.

4. Systems Thinking

Nearly every challenge COVID-19 has presented has affected systems. On an individual level, it may be difficult to see the big picture and truly understand just how far-reaching these effects are. Yet, systems thinkers do just that. They comprehend the scope, moving parts and relationships within a system and how everything interconnects. Moreover, systems thinkers make full patterns clear to others through precise explanations and are able to work alongside others to formulate possible solutions.

For example, someone whose only concern is the present moment likely won't consider the consequences of their actions and how their choices will affect their co-workers, clients and their business as a whole. Likewise, employees without a systems mindset won't be able to grasp how COVID-19 has affected every facet of the company. Nor will they be able to prepare each moving part and component for the next crisis — as there are sure to be more.

To sharpen your systems thinking skills, begin studying the interconnectedness of the company at which you already work. How do the actions of each manager or team affect others? Then, consider how the coronavirus has affected these processes and relationships.

5. Strategic Foresight

Once you firmly grasp these systems, you can sharpen your anticipation and future literacy skills to imagine future scenarios and the impact they might have on both a small and global scale. Then, you'll be able to make choices and decisions that influence how your business — and the world — will evolve and change. This skill is called strategic foresight.

Strategic foresight allows you to predict or imagine possible, probable and preferred future outcomes and the consequences they may have. Moreover, it gives you and your business a fighting chance in defending yourselves against poor outcomes. Ultimately, your foresight could save the company — or be the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

If you'd like to hone your strategic foresight skills, consider the magnitude of potential threats to your core business. This threat may be anything from innovation to another pandemic. Then, analyze your company's current and future ability to respond to, adapt to and capitalize on this potential threat. If you notice any holes in your defense strategies, work to improve or revise them.

From Reactivity to Anticipation

While some businesses prepared for a situation similar to the pandemic we're experiencing now, most did not. The dip in the economy is evidence enough of that. Now, small businesses and major corporations must pick up the pieces and essentially react to the pandemic as it unfolds.

Having learned their lesson, they'll likely develop contingency plans and plan for more future crises. These businesses will switch from reactivity to anticipation, which is why you must have the above skills if you want a successful career. By exercising and improving these skills now, you can become a prime candidate to companies looking to do the same.

Besides, with more trouble on the horizon, joining a team that looks to the future and values imagination will be the best place to work and offer you more job security. It's a win-win, really.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Living the ‘New Normal’ in the Age of Covid-19

The Skills You Need Guide to Living the ‘New Normal’
in the Age of Covid-19

This eBook is designed to help you through the process of ‘going digital’ and managing other aspects of life during a pandemic.

From how to get yourself online, through how to keep safe, to working, learning and staying in touch with friends and family remotely, the Skills You Need Guide to Living the 'New Normal' in the Age of Covid-19 covers the key skills you need to survive and thrive.

Shannon Flynn

About the Author

Shannon Flynn is a technology and business improvement writer. She is the Managing Editor at and has written for sites like TechDayHQ, Re-Work, Innovation & Tech Today and more. Follow ReHack on Twitter to read more pieces by Shannon.