Make 2020 better than 2019 by improving the job skills employers are looking for as we start the new decade.

As the giant ball drops on a crazy and tumultuous year and we look ahead to 2020, not everything is bad. The unemployment rate is hovering below four percent, which is the lowest it's been since 2000. But what does that mean for you as a job seeker? That means there are fewer jobs out there for the taking and the competition is fierce.

If you're looking for a way to set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates out there, you need to think beyond your degree and your certifications. Start thinking about the top job skills employers want in 2020. Most people who apply for a position have the nuts-and-bolts training required to do the job. But according to a 2019 Linkedin survey of nearly 300 hiring managers in the U.S, 92 percent of hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals agree that it's your soft skills that can put you at the top of the list. That being said, there are some hard skills that can up your employment game as well — especially in the next couple of years.

As you get ready to test the job market in the next year, brush up on these 10 job skills in 2020 that recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for. 

1. Time management

Time management has always been important, but in 2020 we'll be seeing even more jobs allowing for either part-time or full-time remote work. That means that your employers have to trust that you can manage your time and get your work done without anyone looking over your shoulder. In today's age of smartphones, social media, and binge-worthy TV, you need to prove that you can stay on task and on target. 

Skill Tip: Prioritize your tasks for the next day before signing off. Put the biggest, ugliest tasks first if you can. Once you tackle those, the rest will come easy and you'll stay on target.

2. Collaboration

Maybe you feel that you work best solo — and that's OK. But in truth, today's modern age tends to bundle multiple complicated technologies into almost every project, and you can't always do it alone. What used to be a simple blog post now might need a video, user-experience design tweaks, search engine optimization, and social media marketing as well. You don't have to do it all yourself, but you do need to be able to work with others effectively.

Skill Tip: Learn cross-functionally. While you may not be able to do everything, learning how and why other teams do what they do will help you work together with them on any project with understanding and patience.

3. Emotional intelligence

The ability to stay in tune with your own emotions and the emotions of those around you is more valuable than ever, and is why it's an important job skill for 2020. The days of “leave your problems at the door when you come to work” are gone. From acknowledging your own emotions to having empathy for the emotions of your co-workers and clients, emotional intelligence will help you be a “people person” without having to be an extrovert.

Skill Tip: Start by taking an emotional intelligence quiz. Then, once you see the results, look at those areas where you may be lacking. Think of someone you know from work or in your personal life who you think excels in that area. Talk to them about it and try to learn at least one small trick you can use to increase your EI. 

4. Creativity

In a world that is increasingly crowded with ideas, images, and technology, the ability to come up with a new angle is just plain amazing. Some people are naturally creative and new ideas sprout from their minds like it's nothing. For most people, however, it's not so easy. That doesn't mean you can't be creative; you just might need to work on it a little bit. 

Pro Tip: Find some simple things you can do to boost your creativity. Sometimes all it takes is a little change in your routine. 

5. Adaptability

Have you noticed that things are changing faster than ever? As technology evolves, we're finding new ways to use it. That means the old “We've always done it this way!” attitude is nothing but dead weight on your career. You need to be adaptable to new technology, new collaborations, and new philosophies to succeed in 2020.

Skill Tip: Find books that focus on adaptability in the workplace. Even though it's from 1998, Spencer Johnson's “Who Moved My Cheese” is still a useful read and a good place to start.

6. Adaptive thinking

Another way to think of this is “thinking outside of the box.” Adaptive thinking allows you to take the real-life situation at hand and find a solution to your problems. That may mean you don't do things the way they've typically been done, but it may also mean you'll get better results. 

Skill Tip: Read a biography of a wildly successful person you admire. Chances are this person has strong adaptive thinking skills. Whoever you choose, they've probably faced problems and found solutions to work through them. Or, for a more hands-on approach, you can try to work through your daily problems in a different way or from a different angle. See what happens when you tap into your own adaptive thinking.

7. Service orientation

Increasingly, success has less to do with how aggressively you try to boost your own career than how much effort you put into the people around you. From your bosses to your direct reports, having a service-oriented mentality means you look to make those around you better. Think about it — who doesn't want to work with (or for) a person like that?  

Skill Tip: Think of five people you have worked with including customers, bosses, or direct reports. What could you have done to help them improve their situations? Then take a few moments to think about how that could have affected your own career. 

8. Cloud computing

Now we're getting into some more direct skills that can help you really get an edge in 2020. The world is moving into the cloud, and we need people who understand it and can work with it. Even if you're not a programmer or engineer, just having a solid understanding of the cloud, how it works, and best practices can keep you ahead of the game.

Skill Tip: Take a quick class on cloud computing. Find one that will cover what is most relevant for your career. You can even find free online courses like this one

9. Knowledge of new social and digital media

Like it or not, digital media is running the show now. If you want to compete in the job market, you need to at least be cognizant of what's out there, how it works, and what kind of audience it enjoys. We're beyond just Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter these days (but don't neglect them!). While it may be comfortable to stick to what you know and ignore the newcomers, that mindset will leave you and your resume in the dust — especially as we enter the new decade. 

Skill Tip: There are classes out there that you can take to brush up on new media, as well as plenty of articles detailing the complexities of the different social and digital media sites out there. But if you want to save a few dollars and get right to the heart of it, find a college-aged person and ask them what kinds of media they use and how they use them. 

10. Artificial intelligence

Like it or not, we're in the AI age now. We not only want computers to do work for us, but we also want them to get smarter as they work. Just like cloud computing, you may not need to be a top-level expert, but a solid understanding of AI can give you a vital edge in a difficult job market.

Skill Tip: Again, there are free courses out there for the taking. 

Now that you know some of the professional skills and traits you will need to be successful in the new decade, it's time to get to work. But remember, you don't just have to boost your skills — you have to advertise them. Update your resume to highlight these top 10 skills in 2020, and then create a killer cover letter that shows just how ready you are for the new year and a new job. 

Need help updating your resume for the new year? Our writers know exactly what hiring managers are looking for. Let them help

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