As I work through my final semester of graduate school, I’ve been thinking more and more about my work skills. I try to avoid panicking, as cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and interview questions swirl around in my head. Yet, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed after a 3-year hiatus.

This weekend, I decided to play some Lizzo, grab my favorite tea, and knock the dust off of the most recent version of my resume. As I read it over, I pondered how the hiring process might have changed due to the pandemic. I mulled over whether the soft skills I had listed at the bottom of my resume were still impressive in this new landscape of hybrid work.

Do companies care if you are personable anymore? Does saying you are proficient in the Microsoft Suite seem amateur these days?

There are a few skills that signal to companies that you can be successful working from home. To help you position yourself as an hybrid work candidate, here are the top five skills HR managers are looking for in hybrid workers:

Work Skills, Hardly

Top-notch written communication

Before COVID, you were probably able to get away with convoluted emails because your coworkers could easily obtain clarification if needed. Now, your ability to communicate efficiently and effectively via email is crucial.

As Forbes put it, “Can you accurately and succinctly convey and interpret thoughts and ideas through digital messages?”  If you aren’t so confident in this area, spend additional time crafting messages until you get the hang of it. The ability to communicate your needs, ideas, and questions digitally is highly desirable.  

Work Skills, Hardly

Proficiency in digital platforms

Technical knowledge is more important than ever now-a-days. As I mentioned in last week’s article, being “behind the curve” on learning new software and digital platforms is a sure way to make yourself obsolete.

The success of communication, collaboration, workflow, and management is greatly dependent on employees’ mastery of digital tools. Companies want to ensure new employees know how to use tech to work faster and smarter (or are at least game to learn). Take time to practice using applications like Zoom, Slack, Hootsuite, Canva, Asana, and the Google Suite so that you know how to use each to their fullest potential.

Work Skills, Hardly

Self-sufficiency

The transition to hybrid work comes with a lot of “figure it out” and “learn on the job” moments. You need the ability to problem solve without the help of your superiors or colleagues.

While others want to help, working hybrid means others are frequently inaccessible to answer questions or provide guidance in real-time. As a result, one of the work skills you must have is the ability to work independently. Employers are eager to hire people who are self-reliant and proactive. Show them this describes you by mentioning times you took action without instruction from others in previous positions. 

Work Skills, Hardly

Excellent time management

Time management has always been important. However, staying focused has never been so difficult. When you work from home, it presents a whole new set of challenges. You are not locked in a room full of others working diligently from 9-5 each day. There is peer pressure to watch Netflix, do some online shopping, or talking on the phone during work hours.

Therefore, you have to block out the distractions, not procrastinate, and get the job done. In your CV, discuss your ability to multitask and follow through on short- and long-term projects. This will demonstrate your excellent time management skills.

Need some extra help blocking out distractions? Check out our Hardly app!

Work Skills, Hardly

Self-motivation

The Muse recommends job-seekers show they are “motivated about the job, the company, and the industry you are applying for.” In a hybrid environment, it can be difficult to stay driven or excited about the work you are doing.

Similar to football games without chanting, signs, and other forms of fandom, it’s hard to get hyped up about work. Therefore, hiring managers are looking for people who can insight passion in themselves and others. They want to know you’re committed to the cause and that you can be productive without constant oversight from team members. To demonstrate this, use the interview as an opportunity to share how you will be an asset to the company.

Hopefully, you already have most of these hybrid-work skills. If not, we hope you gained some new strategies to improve them before your next job search. Let us know in the comments if there are other must-have skills hybrid workers need in this new job market.  

Most of us are our absolute best work selves when we start a new job. Our boss says “jump,” we say “how high.” We show up early, over-prepared, and volunteer for every opportunity for growth. Then a couple of weeks or months go by and naturally as we get more comfortable a few bad working habits tend to rear their ugly heads. Our transition to remote work probably followed a similar pattern. In fact, we might have developed some new unfortunate habits in the process.

I started forgetting all about my body language during Zoom meetings. Being in a room surrounded by people dressed in business attire commands a certain level of attention. Being alone in my apartment with sweatpants and headphones on is a different vibe. I was catching myself mid-doodle, looking down at my paper, and suddenly remembering I was on camera! I hadn’t made eye contact with the current speaker or given any signs that I was engaged in the conversation in ten minutes. While I had been listening, it looked like I was completely zoned out to my coworkers. Realizing my habit could come off as disrespectful and unprofessional, I knew I had to nip it in the bud.

To save you from having to learn some hard lessons on your own, here are our top 5 bad working habits you need to kick in 2021:

Perfectionism is the enemy of good habits

He was right! Let go of meticulously going through the small stuff at the expense of making headway on the project as a whole. Instead, create a comprehensive rough draft where all the content or “meat” of the deliverable is there and then go back and make necessary corrections if time allows. Don’t let your fear of criticism keep you from pulling the trigger. The sooner you send it out, the sooner you can receive feedback, the sooner you can make it better.

Tardiness doesn't pay

One of my New Year’s commitments was to be on time for everything. Showing up when you are supposed to says you value your time and the time of others which can be hugely important in business since time is money. 

To avoid being late to any Zoom calls, set the alert for 5-10 minutes before the actual meeting so that you have time to go to the bathroom, close out of your email, or get a glass of water before it begins. Shoot for sitting in front of your computer with a smile on your face one minute before the start time.

Overpromising is a habit that will catch up to you

I am definitely guilty of this one. With good intentions, my default is to say “yes, yes, yes” to everything forgetting that I only have time for so much work. While setting boundaries might be difficult at first, it is better than disappointing others when you have to admit you bit off more than you could chew. Instead, set realistic expectations from the beginning and if you finish early, reach out and offer to take on more.

Tunnel focus is bad

Laser focus is a valuable skill however, in virtual work environments being accessible via online platforms is key. Coworkers rely on email and Slack to let you know they require your attention. Tuning everything out and working in isolation is not an option— and is definitely a bad working habit. Deeply focusing on one task for an extended period of time can cause you to miss time-sensitive messages from others on your team. You don’t want to be the one that people can never get a hold of. 

Prevent this by placing a time limit on your tunnel vision and scheduling email, Slack, and phone checks a couple of times per day so that you are attuned to all your tasks in the background.

Resisting new processes or software

Even if a change is for the better, there is always a learning curve. Being a stick-in-the-mud and unwilling to adapt is a sure way to make yourself obsolete. Don’t be the team member that is looking backward rather than forwards. Instead, take on a positive attitude and welcome the opportunity to add a new skill to your repertoire and resume. Just think, it will make you more competitive in the long run!

If you and I can ditch these bad working habits, we will be sure to excel in our current positions. Not to mention, our coworkers and bosses will thank us for being productive, punctual, honest, aware, and adaptable. Comment below if there are other bad habits you intend to improve this year and share your plan of attack!

I have now lived through two iconic New Years. The first was from 1999 to 2000. I brought in the new millennium with close family friends dancing around the basement to the YMCA and drinking sparkling cider. It was a seven-year-olds dream.  

The second was a couple of days ago, again in a basement (bar), but this time with a shot of sake, a bunch of ski bums, and friends in Hakuba, Japan. Even with the language barrier, it was clear everyone was ecstatic that the year from hell was finally over and hopeful that 2021 would bring new beginnings. But, when the clock struck midnight, the masks didn’t come off, COVID-19 did not disappear, and quarantining did not end.

Change doesn’t just come about; we have to set goals and then actively pursue them to evoke it. But sometimes achieving our goals is not so easy. Raise your hand if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution and then woken up three weeks later and realized that you’ve fallen back into old habits. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Which is why I’m letting you in on my top two secrets for successful goal setting.

Setting Goals, Hardly

Keep it small, in fact, make it micro

If you’re a high achiever you might be tempted to skip this tip, but sometimes the more ambitious we are, the more likely we are to fall into a self-defeating cycle. High expectations of ourselves lead us to set whale-sized goals when our plates only have room for shrimpy ones. But just because you don’t go big doesn’t mean you have to go home. I suggest breaking down a monstrous goal into a micro one. Tim Herrea in the NY Times describes it simply:

 “For any task you have to complete, break it down into the smallest possible units of progress and attack them one at a time.”

For example, one of my goals is to drink more water. My initial thought was to shoot for a gallon a day. While this might not be unreasonable for some, it is a significant amount for me (I know, I’m so bad). Just thinking about it, the goal started to feel troublesome rather than motivating. I already knew I was on the wrong track.

I remembered Sabina Nawaz wrote in HBR the key to micro-goals is making them “ridiculously small” and attaching them to a daily habit you do without thinking. By doing this, you take away barriers to getting started which is the hardest part of building habits, according to James Clear. James uses Newton’s Laws to hack productivity. Therefore, an appropriate micro-goal would be to drink one bottle of water while driving to pick my husband up from work each evening.  Not only does this require minimal effort, but it’s also connected to a mindless task.

Setting Goals, Hardly

Make it SMART-R

This one is a tried and true classic, but I have a spin on it. I was reminded of the SMART technique a couple of weeks ago when it was part of the curriculum I taught for my Healthy Thinking group. It goes like this: S is for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for relevant, and T for time-bound.

While these are must-haves, I have found that the added R for “rewarded” has a huge effect on my success rate. It all comes back to behavioral theory. If you reward a behavior, your brain tells you to do it again. If you punish a behavior, your brain tells you to reevaluate your actions. While some may say there is enough satisfaction in achieving the goal itself, I say the more incentive the merrier. But, watch out for counterproductive rewards.  You don’t want to treat yourself to three slices of cheesecake if you have been working towards eating clean.  Instead, reward yourself with something in line with your goal such as a new outfit or a Vitamix.

With these tips, you’ll be able to achieve whatever you set your mind to this year. And remember, all gains are gains, no matter how small!