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The most in-demand candidate skills in 2021

To find your dream job, you need to demonstrate the professional skills and competencies that can help you stand out from other specialists in your industry. Time management, continuous learning, decision-making, and emotional intelligence skills will help you do better at your job and rise up the career ladder. In this blog post, we’ll cover the skills required for a candidate in 2021.

In-demand candidate skills in 2021

According to research done by Hays, the most in-demand skills over the next 12 months are:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills (needed by 55%)
  • Adaptability to change (53%)
  • Problem-solving (45%)
  • Flexibility and adaptability (43%)
  • People management skills (41%)

According to Indeed, the in-demand competencies for candidates are:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Learning/adaptability skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Computer skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Open-mindedness
  • A strong work ethic

So why do soft skills matter? First of all, soft skills are now becoming essential for the resume — hard skills matter no less. Successful collaboration is impossible without effective communication, relationship-building skills, and teamwork. No matter your job position, negotiation is an inevitable part of any work process, even if you don’t work with clients directly. Negotiation is important in work as well as life. Negotiation skills will come in handy when discussing the price of your new house renovation, signing important documents, or mentoring your neighbor’s children on the weekend. Soft skills are valuable in our personal and professional lives.

According to a study by Deloitte Access Economics, “soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.” When manual jobs such as manufacturing line workers can be automated, it’s traditional skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking that can’t be replaced by robots.

Businesses also benefit from soft skills development:

  • Increased productivity as workers collaborate more efficiently
  • Improved leadership and better relationships between leadership and employees
  • Better communication at the workplace makes employees feel connected working on the same mission

If you think that soft skills are only for creative jobs, you’re wrong. Believe it or not, software engineers that have well-developed soft skills are in high demand right now. Let’s see what soft skills are important for software developers and what skills employers want.

The most important soft skills for developers

When engineers with strong technical skills lack communication abilities, they can’t showcase their value to their employer. If you work on your confidence and soft skills, you will be better positioned for promotions, exciting projects at work, and more influence in critical company decisions. So let’s look at the top required candidate skills each software engineer should have and why these skills are required for software engineers.


What skills do software engineers need? Communication is one of the crucial software developer skills. When hiring, recruiters should pay attention to the candidate’s manner of speaking and their ability to listen—and don’t interrupt. Also, if the developer asks questions during the interview, treat it as a good sign. It shows that the candidate isn’t afraid to clarify information, which will be a big plus in the development process. 


Ask the candidate about their experience of working in a team and their role in the development process. That way, you’ll find out whether the person is a team player or an individual worker. Teamwork is one of the best skills to learn, no matter what job position you are pursuing.


Motivation is one of the skills required for a developer in 2021. Ask what prompted the candidate to apply for this job, whether it’s career growth, the desire to try something new, or the salary. Their answers will let you know what you can expect in return.

Time management

Time management can make or break your project. Ask candidates how they manage their time, adjust priorities, set goals, and communicate with clients and vendors. 

Top required candidate skills

Now that we know the importance of soft skills, let’s dig deeper into the most sought after candidate skills in 2021.

Time management

Time management is one of the most important skills in today’s fast-paced world. Most analysts believe that 25-30% of the workforce will be working remotely by the end of 2021. Remote work puts even more of the responsibility on employees to manage their time effectively to succeed in their job. When speaking with candidates, recruiters pay more attention to time management and getting their work done without supervision. 

Flexibility and adaptability

In this ever-changing world, you must adapt to different circumstances to succeed. Flexibility at the workplace is all about an open mindset, working well under pressure, adjusting to new and unexpected deadlines, prioritizing tasks, and even taking on additional responsibilities when necessary.

Many organizations have remained committed to a virtual work environment. A track record of success working remotely may soon be a differentiator. When choosing between two equally skilled candidates, it may now behoove companies to pursue the candidate with remote work experience.

Jeffrey Pietrzak, Trusted Nurse Staffing

Critical thinking

Critical thinking helps employees think out-of-the-box and always dig deeper by asking such questions as “What’s happening?”, “Why is this important?”, “Who is being affected?”, “Where did the information come from?”, and “Am I confident about the source?” A recruiter can check out the candidate’s critical thinking by asking special questions during the interview. Candidates with a high degree of critical thinking can determine the truth from fiction and then determine a solution or course of action using the information gathered in this process. You need to solve problems quickly and efficiently and analyze the situation from an unusual point of view.

Emotional intelligence

We are all humans and gone are the days when you were required to leave your emotions at home when going to work. Here’s what you can do to improve your emotional intelligence:

  • Think about your body language when you communicate with others.
  • Always think about how others react to your words.
  • Visualize conversations beforehand and practice in advance.
  • Think about how you can communicate with others to achieve better results.

Emotional intelligence at work will help you read verbal and nonverbal cues in others to communicate more effectively and healthily express your emotions.

Candidate skills employers look for in remote job positions

The world we live in has changed. Remote workers need a variety of skills to be efficient when working from home. Here are the skills you should have when looking for a remote position.


Self-motivation is a common challenge remote workers face, especially when you need to shift from ‘home’ to ‘work.’ Nowadays, employers look for a dedicated candidate who puts a lot of effort and energy into everything they do no matter where they work.

Strong written communication skills

When teams work remotely, 50% or more of all communications are written rather than spoken. This means communicating through emails, Slack, or texting. Good written communication even includes using the chat function well while you’re on a video call. You need to be able to communicate clearly no matter what platform you’re using.


Remote work is all about self-organization and focus. Employees need to manage their projects, communication threads, and their time when working from home. Companies look for employees that know how to concentrate on a certain task and finish it without being distracted by other things. 

The hiring trend we’re seeing most in 2021 is skills-based hiring rather than overreliance on a four-year degree. According to Indeed, the most highly sought-after skills in 2021 are a mix of tech skills and the skills required to work independently, both of which add up to making remote work thrive. This includes adaptability, time management, creativity, and people management.

Darren Kimball, GetFive


Communication plays a big role in successful collaboration. When working remotely, you need to know how to find the right balance of video meetings and phone calls to bring your message to the right people without being annoying. You also need to know how to describe a task so everyone will understand it and feel on the same page.

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