Remote work: the top skills employers are looking for

What are the most popular skills required in a remote job to help candidates become successful online workers and why are these skills so important? Andrew Fennell shares his advice on how to start developing these key characteristics and how to highlight them in your CV.

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic has proven to bring positive results, and remote work has been discussed as the future of the workplace.

CV and career experts discovered that Google searches for ‘working from home’ in the country has increased by 50% in the past 30 days. As a result, recruiters and companies are looking for candidates with the right online work skills to boost this concept of the ‘new normal’.

As a result, was keen to investigate the most popular skills required in a remote job to help candidates become successful online workers.

The results:

1Team player (36%) and collaborative (5%)

It is expected from a remote worker to be independent, but it is also very important to know how to work in groups. Employers seek workers that can contribute to the team remotely and perform tasks collectively with success.

Tips to develop your team player and collaborative skills:

Cultivate communication. Communication is the key! Knowing how to express yourself and articulate your ideas is essential in any job, but it is even more important in remote work. An excellent communicator must be able to listen and incorporate colleagues’ suggestions into projects.

Build up trust and respect. There is no teamwork without mutual trust, especially when everyone is working from home. With trust, team members can do their tasks without fearing for the quality of the results.

Be social. It’s common to think that when you work remotely, sociability reduces and becomes almost nonexistent. But the fact is that a good relationship between teammates is even more necessary in this case and you’ll need to work even harder to create the same social atmosphere as you would have in an office. And don’t forget – the same applies to clients, suppliers, and other work colleagues.

2Team management (32%)

Time management is mandatory, as working from home can be very distracting. Employers that manage their time well prove that they work effectively and produce more, switching between tasks and meetings without losing focus.

Tips to develop team management skills:

Delegate Tasks. Look for opportunities to manage activities and events, even if it will be a small responsibility in the beginning. You’ll need to prepare  how tasks will be delivered and implement processes into place to stimulate learning, improve the team’s performance and help management from being overwhelmed.

Work on your leadership skills. If you’re just starting your career or just looking for a promotion, leadership skills are valuable in both cases. Start by being supportive, positive and encourage your colleagues!

Be present. It’s easy to forget to reply to your colleagues in the group chat when working from home, especially during busy days when everyone is focused on tasks and deadlines. Don’t forget to check your team chat from time to time, reply to different channels, celebrate achievements, and share your own.

3Technical knowledge  (29%)

Even if you don’t have an IT role specifically, companies need to know that candidates have technical capabilities. As most of the work will be done on a computer, it is essential to know how to manage tools and solve technical issues without the IT team physically present.

Tips to develop your technical knowledge skills:

Dedicate some time to learn. There’s no need for you to become an IT guru, but you will need some computer skills to perform it well. It can also save you a lot of time, as you won’t need to explain to the IT team why your webcam is not working or the reason you can’t download a software.

Find the right tools. Have you noticed how tools and apps can make our daily life more effective? They are even more important for remote workers, as productivity is essential for the job – and add great value to a CV.

Software knowledge. The ability to use software specific to your role is necessary and can show proactivity in the employers eyes. Microsoft Office, spreadsheets, accounting software, email communication are some basic and important computer skills.

4Flexibility (20%)

To have a successful remote career, it is important to always be keen to learn and develop new skills. Some characteristics of a flexible worker are being comfortable when trying new technologies, changing ideas during brainstorms and not resistant when a new member group suggests something new.

Tips to develop your flexibility skills:

Practice resilience. Working from home requires productivity, and it sometimes can be stressful and frustrating. Being capable of going through stress, pressure and frustrations make your and your colleagues’ job easier. It also shows to the employer that you can control emotions, expectations and be positive.

Focus on problem-solving. Negative team members are a pet peeve at work – and no one wants to be them. Flexibility means that the candidate has a problem-solving mindset and deals with difficult situations by providing solutions to combat them, instead of complaining about what went wrong.

Improve emotional intelligence. Professionals who have emotional intelligence can adapt easily to situations, including when working from home. To develop this skill, try evaluating your emotions towards a certain situation to understand why it made you feel like that. Manage unexpected circumstances and sudden changes with calmness and resilience, avoiding impulsivity.

5Communication (18%)

This skill can also show emotional-social intelligence, once communicating with team members and clients remotely can be very changeling. It is important to show the capacity to develop networking online and to communicate clearly and concisely.

Tips to develop your communication skills:

Be a listener. Being good at communicating implies being an excellent listener too. Listening helps to better understand other people’s point of view, therefore allowing us to consider where they’re coming from to build stronger relationships.

Make eye contact. Many people look down or sideways when talking to others, which sometimes can show a lack of confidence. When remote working, this can be an even bigger issue as our eye contact is focused at a camera the entire time.

Ask questions. In remote work, we rely on digital tools and it is often common that the lack of visual cues causes miscommunication. Asking questions makes you see through others’ perspective and clarify doubts; to avoid missing any important information.

6Organisation (12%)

Highly organised workers are generally productive and know how to prioritise tasks to meet tight deadlines. It also means that they can be independent and work well without constant supervision –  a key skill for remote work.

Tips to develop your organisation skills:

Plan your time. Planning your schedule for one day or even an entire week will ensure constant productivity with an end goal post in mind. It will also help you define certain times of the day where you may be less productive than others, meaning you can manage your workload more effectively.

Prioritise tasks. Knowing how to set priorities is a valuable skill set. It proves that you know how to manage time and that you understand what a priority to the company or project is you’re working on. Start by analysing the deadlines and how much time it will take you to get the task done. If you do this process every time a new project comes up, it will soon become a habit.

Do one thing at a time. Replying to emails whilst writing an important report and chatting online with colleagues is probably not the best idea. We’re used to doing two or more things simultaneously. But it has been proven that single-tasking is more effective and productive than multitasking. Focusing on one task at a time can make you get things done at a higher quality and in a shorter time.

7Problem-solving (12%)

Employers are always interested in workers that know how to make decisions and solve problems using logic, agility, and creativity. A good problem-solver can take control of emotions and is able to action a solution in a stressful environment.  

Tips to develop your problem-solving skills:

Be future-focused. We often tend to criticise ourselves for something that we said or have done in the past, but a problem-solving mind always looks forward. When facing a problem, ask yourself ‘what can I do from now on?’ instead of ‘this is what I should have done’.

Look for multiple solutions. There is not only one way to solve problems and deal with challenges, so instead of sticking to ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, try to focus on multiple solutions. Look at the problem through a perspective lens so you can come up with different alternatives and prove you can be a success when you put your mind to it.  

8Self-motivation (12%)

Self-motivation is a common challenge faced by remote workers, as it’s sometimes  hard to make that mental shift from ‘home’ to ‘work’. For this reason, employers look for a dedicated candidate who puts a lot of effort and energy in everything they do

Tips to develop your self-motivation skills:

Set realistic goals. To achieve your results effectively, you need to set goals that are feasible.  This way it will be easier to see the positive results and you will not be frustrated if something goes wrong. 

Get into the right mindset. Working from home is not just a matter of turning your computer on and wearing pyjamas all day. It’s amazing how small actions like dressing as if you would go to the office, having your work desk at home and starting and finishing your workday at the same time can improve your motivation and productivity!

9Self-starter/independent (5%) and proactive (3%)

Proactive professionals are usually self-starters and independent. They naturally seek challenges, work independently to bring fresh ideas, and have things done before their supervisor delegates more tasks. Companies appreciate these skills in candidates because it’s difficult to keep track of what employees are doing when working from home.

Tips to develop your self-starter and proactive skills:

Practice self-analysis. Getting feedback from supervisors is essential, but it’s necessary to reflect on how you are doing your job and how you can perform to the next level. Be careful not to focus on the negatives. Self-analysis doesn’t mean you have to be hard on yourself!

Identify what causes procrastination. If you sometimes feel that it is hard for you to start or finish a task, you are not alone: 84% of us are affected to some degree by procrastination. Try to identify the triggers of your procrastination and explore solutions to improve your output. 

Trust yourself. The lack of confidence at work makes it harder for workers to be independent, self-starters and proactive. Employers need to trust you enough to have you working from home, so If you are insecure, it’s time to build up self-confidence. Start by appreciating your efforts and your hard work. Soon it will become a routine and you will naturally feel more confident to make your own decisions.

How to add remote skills to your CV:

  • When demonstrating your remote work skills, don’t simply state that you have them. You should try to present how they can be applied in your role
  • Make sure that you understand the core skill requirements of the roles you are applying for, so you can reflect them throughout your CV
  • Showing your results tells employers how valuable your skills are, so describe in a few sentences what positive results your skills achieve
  • Hard skills are more important to get down in writing, whereas soft skills can be implied throughout your role descriptions
  • Adding Skills to your CV is essential if you want to have a stand out CV and land job interviews

Methodology: StandOut CV used search analytics tool SEMrush to discover the number of searches in the past 30 days. The data was collected on 29 June 2020. StandOut CV also used the job search engine, searching for ‘Remote Jobs’ to discover the number of remote jobs currently available. The skills were included in Indeed’s advanced job search tool.

Andrew Fennell is the Founder and Director of StandOut CV, the UK’s biggest CV advice website. He is a writing expert with over 13 years of experience in the market. Andrew’s expertise has been published by The Guardian, CV-Library, Total Jobs, Business Insider and UK universities.

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