An interviewer reviewing a job applicant's resume.

In the Tennessee job market in 2021, more and more “help wanted” signs are going up. Earlier this month alone, there were over 450,000 job postings on Jobs4TN.gov and unemployment estimates have dipped to 4.6%. The problem that many employers are running into is getting enough job candidates through the door during their hiring process.

Surprisingly, in this day and age, many employers are more willing to consider candidates who do not have the necessary skills. So, even if you’re looking for a new job and you don’t feel qualified, your employer may offer training and certification to help you succeed in your new role.

Of course, any skills, education, certifications, or training you can get before or during your job search will help you stand out to potential employers. So what are the most beneficial workplace skills that Tennessee employers are looking for? 

Looking For A Job?
Services For You
Services For Businesses

High School Equivalency Diploma and Related Skills

An African American adult man in his mid 40's in a cap and gown celebrating his high school equivalency program

Even if you didn’t get a chance to complete high school, it’s not the end. You can take the HiSET test to prove your current skills and your current education level. A basic high school diploma usually means that graduates are proficient in reading, writing, math, and some science. Additionally, there’s a perception that high school graduates have a natural set of social skills gained through socialization and extracurricular activities.

You can sign up for our adult HiSET preparation courses at a Workforce Essentials Location Near you.

Earn Your Diploma

1. Math

The foundation of all STEM sciences, math is an essential skill no matter what job field you want to work in. Most people, on a day-to-day basis, need some basic math skills like addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction to succeed in their position. For example, anyone involved with retail will know the importance of totaling a customer’s order before asking for payment. Managers also need some math skills in order to correctly staff their team’s shifts.

2. Reading

Most adults in the United States read at levels around 7th to 8th grade. But what does this mean? Reading at a 7th or 8th-grade level generally means that the person is competent at reading everyday messaging and communications. People who read at a higher level show greater signs of interpretation and comprehension. 

If you have technical reading skills, especially for a particular industry, then you might start your job search that aligns with your previous reading experience.

3. Writing

Remote jobs thrive off of excellent written communications. Online team-based resources like Slack, Basecamp, and Monday are a few of the many professional communication tools used in today’s workplace. Therefore, being able to write and communicate your thoughts clearly and accurately is essential, especially if you’re searching for a remote position.

Digital and Computer Literacy Skills

Several people working on computers in a public library

Why You Need Computer and Digital Skills

Computers are essential for many jobs. While trained jobs like plumbers, roof contractors, general contractors, electricians, and more are hands-on specialties, as technology evolves, these positions may see more computer technology integrations to make these jobs more effective.

A 2017 report from Burning Glass Technologies observed that 82% of all middle-skilled jobs required digital skills. Another report from Bookings showed that from 2002 to 2016, the percent of jobs requiring high-level digital skills increased from 5% to 23%. The Bookings report also showed that the percent of jobs requiring middle-tier computer skills increased from around 40% to about 48%.

Finally, the report found that the percentage of jobs requiring low-level computer skills actually decreased from 56% down to 30% over the same period.

What Computer Skills Should I Start With?

If you’re intimidated by having to learn computer skills, start small and set goals to get comfortable with at least the following programs.

  • Microsoft Word
  • Internet Explorer/Google Chrome/Firefox
  • PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Gmail/Microsoft Outlook
  • Google Drive or Microsoft Outlook

These programs are essential for communicating and scheduling in the workplace. Secretarial work will involve managing appointments through digital tools as well as communicating via email. 

If you’re looking for a more technical job, you should consider adding the following skills to your skillset.

  • Database Management
  • Content Management System
  • HTML/CSS
  • WordPress
  • Canva
  • Advanced Google Search
  • Google Scholar
  • Research
  • Technical Writing
  • SEO
Employee Training Programs

Communication Skills

A group of interracial people communicating in a group project and settling conflict.

Public Speaking

According to Verywell Mind, experts say that up to 77% of the United States population has a fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia. Stage fright is a real thing!

Now, your job, whether old or new, may not require you to speak to a large audience. However, you will more than likely be asked to speak in front of at least a few people in your workplace.

Knowing how to prepare for a public speech is the key to being successful at public speaking and presentations.

What Computer Skills Should I Start With?

If you’re intimidated by having to learn computer skills, start small and set goals to get comfortable with at least the following programs.

  • Microsoft Word
  • Internet Explorer/Google Chrome/Firefox
  • PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Gmail/Microsoft Outlook
  • Google Drive or Microsoft Outlook

These programs are essential for communicating and scheduling in the workplace. Secretarial work will involve managing appointments through digital tools as well as communicating via email. 

If you’re looking for a more technical job, you should consider adding the following skills to your skillset.

  • Database Management
  • Content Management System
  • HTML/CSS
  • WordPress
  • Canva
  • Advanced Google Search
  • Google Scholar
  • Research
  • Technical Writing
  • SEO

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Interpersonal interaction and communication skills are being put to the test after 2020. After communicating through technology for the better part of a year, face-to-face interactions now present a different challenge.

What Is The Most Important Interpersonal Skill?

Listening is the most important interpersonal communication skill, and not just hearing, but active listening. Active listening occurs when you are engaged with what the other person is saying and then use reflective listening to make sure you’re understanding them correctly.

Other Essential Communication Skills
Body Language

Understanding that body language helps communicate your meaning more effectively than words do. 

When communicating with someone, be aware of your posture. You don’t want to unintentionally send the wrong message. If you have a habit of crossing your arms or legs, you might unintentionally be sending the message that you are closed off and won’t be responsive to questions or suggestions.

Tone and Inflection in Oral Communication

Using inflection to convey meaning in oral communication. You want to make sure people don’t misunderstand you when you say something, especially if you have a dry or sarcastic sense of humor.

Negotiation

Negotiating through conflict is a hard skill to find and a harder one to develop. Many people don’t like conflict. Some people respond to conflict by avoiding it, others may inflame it. However, effective negotiation during a business conflict requires an objective attitude, humility, and a solution-oriented mind. Effective negotiators bring value to their workplace, no matter what field they work in.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is not aggressive or domineering, it is bold and confident. Lots of people today, especially Millennials, have a habit of using less assertive language when communicating. This may also be a symptom of anxiety, depression, lack of self-worth, or even impostor syndrome that Millennials frequently suffer from.

As for what weak voice sounds like, use this example.

Your team is in a meeting, you’ve finished explaining your idea, strategy, or the training, and a Millennial coworker raises their hand. They speak haltingly or nervously, saying “sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you,” or “sorry, I hope it’s ok to ask this…”

Another example is, you’ve asked a Millennial, or even a Gen-Zer, to complete a task but you ask them when they think they’ll have it complete. Their response starts off with a protective uncertainty like, “I think, I can have it done by…” but this response doesn’t give you enough certainty for the task.

If you’re aware that you use this same kind of weak voice, apologetic language, or protective uncertainty phrases, these habits can change.

Being confident at work is another subject, so to put it simply, be confident in yourself at work. Take time to practice active voice in writing and with friends. Understand your limits and your abilities so you can give accurate commitments to your supervisors.

At Workforce Essentials, we help employers foster assertive communication through employee training courses, available throughout Tennessee.

Assertive Communication

This is one of the keywords that resume software searches for when considering candidates. To be good at problem-solving, you should be confident in your ability to analyze problems, come up with ideas for solutions, analyze those problems, evaluate how well they will work and make any needed adjustments, and then execute those ideas.

Employers may ask you about a time where you solved a problem, so prior to your job search, you should prepare examples that show your problem-solving ability.

Working From Home Skills

A woman working from home on a laptop with a cup of coffee on her desk.

Self Motivation

This skill is especially important if you’re looking for a remote job. Without the group accountability of going into the office, workers have to be diligent and honest about their schedules. Self motivation is also another skill that employers look for during the hiring process because they won’t have to constantly check in on and follow up with self motivated employees.

Time Management

Time is money, or so the expression goes. Jobs that pay by the hour are especially conscious about how their employees spend their time. Efficiency is one of the core ways that employers evaluate their employees.

General Job Skills

Customer Service

Many service industry jobs are currently hiring, and they need help. The challenge of these jobs, for some, is customer service. The simplest way to understand customer service is to think about the person you’re serving as a friend. Having genuine empathy and the desire to serve customers will show through your actions.

Now, even if you’re not in a service industry job, you may still have to interact with customers, clients, or buyers. An attitude of service will help you be effective and memorable to the people you serve.

Emotional Intelligence

Being aware of your emotions may not always be the easiest thing to do, but emotional intelligence can help you be more effective at work. Emotional intelligence is measured with an EQ score, similar to IQ. You can get your EQ score through any number of online emotional intelligence tests, but your results should help guide you into better managing your emotions.

The better you can manage your emotions at work, the better you’ll be able to respond to stress, conflict, and other workplace challenges.

The Importance of Skills on Your Resume

An interviewer reviewing a resume with a job applicant

Skills are one of the key requirements that employers look for when reviewing resumes. Many job descriptions now also list required skills for the job. When writing a resume, you want to show that your skills match the job. Also, having a dedicated skills section on your resume makes it easier for employers to evaluate how well you’ll fit the job.

Employee Training From Workforce Essentials

If you’re a business owner and want to help your employees become more effective and successful, we offer a variety of employee training programs for businesses. Topics include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Teamwork
  • Conflict Management
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Goal Setting
  • Myers Briggs Assessments
  • Presentation Skills

And so much more! Call Workforce Essentials to schedule a training or learn more about our courses and how we can help you, your business, and your employees succeed.