Even before the pandemic hit, the job landscape was already in flux, with many companies restructuring their workforce and employing technology to change the way they do business. As a result, the number of skills employers are looking for has gone up dramatically.
Unfortunately, though, companies haven’t been able to reskill their employees fast enough to meet their changing needs, so to cope with this urgency to fill talent and skill gaps within their organisations, employers have started to “rent” these skills as the need arises. If they require certain skills for a specific period, some companies are also turning to contract-to-hire agreements or partnering with other organisations to rent people who can fill these skill gaps.
What specific skills are companies looking for?
"Even before COVID-19, companies placed the responsibility of training and development into the hands of individual employees," says Paul Heng, a career and executive coach and founder of NeXT Corporate Coaching Services. "Of course, training budgets still exist today, but companies are leaving it to their employees to take that first step when it comes to deciding what additioanl training they need and how else they can develop their skillset."
There may be several reasons why companies in Singapore can’t train their employees fast enough – a lack of time, money and other crucial resources might be one, but Paul also believes that Singapore generally lags behind the West when it comes to foreseeing what specific skills and talents they might require down the road. By the time they realise what they need, it’s often too late to train enough employees to fulfill those needs.
In 2021 and the years beyond, Paul says that companies will be looking for these specific skills: change management, healthcare, AI (artificial intelligence), appreciation of big data, using data to address business needs and challenges, digital marketing, understanding social media and its impact and potential, creating an online business, and understanding multi-generational customer needs and wants.
How can you sell your specific talents and skills?
1. Be proactive
There’s no other way around it – the best way to market your skills is to be proactive. “This means reaching out to potential employers, telling them what you can offer them and making a case for why you are better than the next person when it comes to helping them close the skills gap and take their business ahead,” says Paul.
Before you do this, Paul advises you to put some time and effort into researching and understanding what skills your target companies need and making sure that you have them. If you don’t, or if your skillset needs to be upgraded, it’d be wise to do a course or undergo some other type of professional training.
2. Get hands-on experience
Another way to acquire the relevant skills is to get hands-on or practical experience, in which case you may have to apply for an internship or do pro-bono or volunteer work. “Once you have some experience, you can feel more confident about what to charge for your skills,” Paul adds.
3. Develop a specific strategy for your target company/client
Approaching your target companies or clients should also be strategic. Rather than send them a generic cover letter or resume, highlight your skills and explain why these meet their business needs or objectives. Talk about how your skills can contribute to their business in the short or long term, whether it’s boosting their profit, increasing their output, expanding their customer base, and so on. Remember, companies want to know what you can bring to the table and how this can help them specifically. If you have prior experience showing how your skills helped other companies, put that in your cover letter. Include testimonials from other employers about how your skills helped them improve sales, attract more buyers or get more online traffic, for instance.
4. Grow your network
Growing your network is also essential to helping you sell your specific skills. Get previous clients or employers to spread the word about you and recommend you to others in the industry. Attend virtual or in-person events for people who do the same or similar work to you – this will help you build your contact base. Create a professional website that plays up your marketable skills and talents. The more you do to get the word out about what you can offer, the better.
5. Acquire a range of skills
When it comes to staying employed for a long time to come, however, Paul cautions you against banking on one specific set of skills. “The best way to capitalise on the skills-gap trend is to acquire a portfolio of skills so that you can contribute to different businesses in different areas. It’s not just about being able to offer what’s relevant for the current period. You also want to remain employable for the future.”