Top 5 soft skills for 2021

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We stepped into a changed world this January and with a few months of 2021 behind us, we’re starting to see trends emerge in hiring. The soft skills we see in demand now are skills that were largely increasing in demand before 2020 due to the rate technology was accelerating at. However, 2020 was certainly a catalyst to these demands.

Soft skills are the skills that affect how you work. They relate to your personality, your motivation and your ways of interacting with others, to name a few. As much as developing our technical skills (hard skills) adds to our career development, so do our soft skills.


Here are our top 5 soft skills for 2021:  


1. Creativity

Definition: the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas.

Creativity has been an increasingly desired skill for a while. Employers want individuals to be able to look at problems from different perspectives and come up with unique solutions. Technology has been enabling us to do far more than before and with that comes the need to find new ways of doing things. In 2020, we can see how the need for this was emphasised with companies facing a truly unique challenge. Our team managed to handle the changes from last year well and it’s largely due to creativity. One of HyperionDev’s core values is Problem Solving which means that we focus on being innovative under pressure and the way the team managed last year was really a testament to that. 


2. Adaptability

Definition: an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions

It’s clear why this has risen to one of the most desired soft skills in 2021 following the year where we all had to adapt to something we never imagined we’d face. Almost every aspect of how people work changed in a couple of months last year but outside of Covid, the increasing use of technology has also driven this need for companies to be able to adapt. 


3. Emotional Intelligence 

Definition: the ability to understand the way people feel and react and to use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems.

At first this may seem like an odd addition to this list but it’s been a grossly underrated soft skill for quite some time. Being able to relate empathetically to team members became crucial last year where many people struggled with a wide variety of emotions that, to some extent, inevitably spills over into their work life. More importantly, your emotional intelligence is also what allowed you to regulate and understand yourself as you moved through a variety of emotions last year. 


4. Communication 

Definition: the act of communicating with people

Communication has always been a valued skill but the way this skill needs to be utilised is different now. Most people could walk up to their colleagues and ask questions, meet around the coffee machine to catch up and sit around a boardroom table to brainstorm ideas, but that’s not the way we need people to be able to communicate anymore. Brainstorming through Google Meet is different, catching up with colleagues doesn’t just happen, and your questions need to be typed out and sent off. In a way, the skill of communication is something many people and companies have had to relearn. At HyperionDev we created more remote ways for our team to communicate with each other through initiatives like sharing playlists, books worth reading, virtual coffees and drinks and more team-wide check ins. 


5. Time Management/Self Motivation/Responsibility 

I leave out a definition here because depending on where you’re reading, who you’re talking to or how you define this, it’ll show up as something different. In essence what we’re looking at here is the ability to be accountable and manage your own time and motivation. When you consider it in the context of remote work it starts to make more sense and companies like HyperionDev, who made use of remote work prior to 2020 have been valuing this for quite some time. What we’re describing is that skill that allows someone to work at home, without someone watching them and telling them what to do but they stay motivated, committed and they manage their time and responsibilities well. 


Looking beyond 2021

If you want to get ahead of the curve and really accelerate your career development, these are the top 10 soft skills the World Economic Forum says we’ll need in 2025:

  • Analytical Thinking and Innovation 
  • Active Learning and Learning Strategies
  • Complex Problem Solving 
  • Critical Thinking and Analysis 
  • Creativity, Originality and Initiative 
  • LEadership and Social Influence 
  • Technology Use, Monitoring and Control 
  • Technology Design and Programming 
  • Resilience, Stress Tolerance and Flexibility
  • Reasoning, Problem Solving and Ideation 

In 2021 there’s a new set of skills that our changing world needs. However, like the world itself, they aren’t completely new but rather somewhat updated versions of themselves. As we think about our career development, we should also think about this and try to improve our own skills, rather than trying to learn a whole new set.

2020 accelerated the need for many of these skills, and brought some completely out of the dark but technology had shown the need for many of these before 2020. Innovative (and largely tech) companies had seen the need for these skills before 2020 and, from the experience we’ve had at HyperionDev, we can certainly say that they made an essential difference to how 2020 was managed.