The job market for the first quarter of 2024 seems to spell uncertainty in job seekers’ eyes, as news of layoffs swept across industries from technology to e-commerce. As professionals grapple with a shifting job landscape and rising cost of living, it can be challenging to maintain a positive outlook about one’s career future.

Despite the perceived surge in job seekers resulting from corporate retrenchment and rightsizing, hiring decisions may appear to favour employers. However, the labour market remains a balanced playing field for both employers and employees.

Amid a global talent shortage stemming from ageing populations and digital transformation, employees like you have higher expectations to be upskilled as jobs become increasingly specialised. 

According to Randstad’s global Workmonitor report released this year, 1 in 2 professionals in Malaysia said that they would switch jobs in 2024 if they didn’t receive enough career development opportunities.

In this dynamic environment, employers are not just seeking workers who can fulfil job descriptions; they are looking for talent that can shape their company's future. Future-proofing your skills is critical not only to meet your current job requirements but also to anticipate evolving business needs and secure your career

Read on to find out more about the top five skills employers will look for in 2024.

top talent skills
top talent skills

1. digital literacy

Digital literacy extends beyond mere technical prowess. In the next five years, the World Economic Forum estimates that nearly one in four (23%) global jobs will be transformed by artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies.

Today, digital literacy encompasses a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation to changing online tools and technologies. Navigating spreadsheets, understanding algorithms, and even coding are now competencies as essential as fluency in any spoken tongue. The digitally literate employee is expected to use data and the newest platforms to communicate valuable insights such as patterns in consumer behaviour, market trends and organisational performance that can lead to positive business outcomes.

In workplaces permeated by technology, organisations seek individuals who are not just competent, but enthusiastic explorers eager to master new digital ecosystems to drive and maintain high productivity levels. 

2. effective communication

In the daily operatics of the professional world, effective communication is the glue that holds projects, ambitions, and organisations together. It is the ability to articulate one’s thoughts with clarity, empathy, and considerable persuasiveness. It isn’t enough to have the answer to a problem; you must convey it in a way that your peers and stakeholders not only understand but get behind.

Mastering effective communication means more than crafting eloquent emails and presentations. It’s about active listening, fostering a two-way dialogue, and ultimately being a team player who can lead by influence. Job seekers who command this skill set enhance their employability threefold, as every organisation values a torchbearer who can communicate their vision and mitigate miscommunication.

top 5 skills employers look for
top 5 skills employers look for

3. critical thinking

In a world where shifts are as sudden as they are frequent, the demand for critical thinking has become an imperative. Critical thinking is the art of reasoning through problems and analysing data to create effective solutions that are aligned with long-term business goals. 

From developing multiple strategies to operating in an unprecedented challenge; visualising data to make effective data-based decisions to resolving workplace conflicts, there are myriad applications for critical thinking at the workplace.

In the age of the Internet, nothing is new any longer - in the sense that information is universally accessible online. Success now hinges on having strong critical thinking skills and the ability to pull information from different sources, map potential outcomes and make smart and influential decisions, even with limited data. 

Finding talented individuals with strong critical thinking abilities is difficult for employers because past accomplishments may have been the result of teamwork. To identify critical thinkers, employers need to use behavioural interview questions or personality assessments to evaluate their characteristics and how well they work with others.

4. cultural intelligence

Having cultural intelligence is a prerequisite for anyone looking to work in the modern global economy, which is incredibly diverse. Cultural intelligence equips employees with the skills to navigate conflicts constructively, address cultural biases and stereotypes, and find mutually acceptable solutions that accommodate diverse perspectives.  

Beyond equipping individuals with the sensitivity and know-how to work with a diverse array of colleagues, a culturally intelligent workplace is now an important factor in helping people determine where to work. 

Randstad’s Workmonitor research reveals that 52% of respondents in Malaysia wouldn’t work for an organisation if it wasn’t making a proactive effort to improve its diversity and equity.

When employers prioritise cultural awareness at the workplace, they can create inclusive work environments where employees can feel like they belong and focus on building their skills and careers. 

5. emotional intelligence 

The workplace is as much about relationships as it is about deliverables. Emotional intelligence, the ability to empathise and understand the emotions of oneself and others, is a silent but powerful currency that enriches workplace experiences. Cultivating emotional intelligence isn't easy; it involves introspection, the will to change, and sometimes, the humility to admit to faults. 

It's the difference between a colleague whom you value, trust and respect, to one that you may avoid connecting with from just a single negative experience with them. A healthy workplace that values emotional intelligence is a must-have for your mental well-being, as a toxic work environment can take a heavy toll on your mental health.

Having a safe and nurturing workplace is more than just feeling like things are tolerable. It’s knowing that your beliefs are respected and that you can bring your authentic self to work to perform at your best. As much as employers are looking for talent with mature emotional intelligence to be a part of their team, you should also be looking for organisations that provide you with a supportive and driven environment to thrive in. 

let us match you with your ideal career

In navigating the nuances of the modern job market, focusing on these five skills is akin to sharpening a blade before the hunt. As you prepare to venture into career transitions or new paths, your skills will be your advantage in a highly competitive job market.

By honing your digital literacy, effective communication, critical thinking, cultural intelligence, and emotional intelligence, you’re able to stand out to potential employers as a well-rounded employee. Keep in mind that these skills are not static but dynamic, evolving with the workplace.

If you’re looking to develop your skills and meet an employer who can recognise your potential, why not reach out to our specialist recruiters? They offer valuable career advice, interview tips and support to prepare you for even the toughest interviews throughout your job search journey and enhance your chances of securing your dream job!

You can visit our latest job listings, explore your career options and apply for a job to kick-start your job search.

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