In the Tennessee job market, more and more “help wanted” signs are going up. Earlier this month alone, there were over 450,000 jobs in Tennessee posted on, and unemployment estimates have dipped to 4.6%. The problem that many employers face 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 feel unqualified, you can go ahead and apply. Your employer may offer training and certification to help you succeed in your new role.

Of course, take advantage of acquiring new skills, education, certifications, or training you can get before or during your job search. All of these will help you stand out to potential employers. So, if you are job hunting in Tennessee, what are the most beneficial workplace skills that Tennessee employers are looking for?

High School Equivalency Diploma and Related Skills

Even if you didn’t complete high school, you still have a chance to stand out to employers. 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.

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

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 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. This means that a person who reads at a 7th or 8th-grade level is competent at reading everyday messaging and communications. However, 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 communication. Online team-based resources like Slack, Basecamp, and Monday are a few professional communication tools used in today’s workplace. Therefore, being able to write and communicate your thoughts clearly and accurately is essential, especially 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. For example, trained jobs like plumbers, roof contractors, general contractors, and electricians are hands-on specialties. However, 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. A report from Bookings showed that jobs requiring high-level digital skills increased from 5% to 23% from 2002 to 2016. The Bookings report also showed that jobs requiring middle-tier computer skills increased from around 40% to about 48%.

Finally, Bookings reported that jobs requiring low-level computer skills 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 attainable goals. At a minimum, you should become comfortable with 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. For example, 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 technical skills to your skill set:

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

Lastly, problem-solving is one of the keywords that resume software searches for on a job application when considering candidates. Problem-solving requires confidence in your ability to analyze problems, ideate solutions, evaluate them, make adjustments, and then execute the solution.

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

Communication Skills

Public Speaking

According to Verywell Mind, experts say that up to 77% of the United States population has a fear of public speaking. This common fear is also known as glossophobia.

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.

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. It involves not just hearing but active listening. Active listening occurs when you are engaged with what the other person is saying and use reflective listening. This helps ensure you understand them correctly.

Other Essential Communication Skills

Body Language

Body language helps communicate your meaning more effectively than words alone do.
When communicating with someone, be aware of your posture. You don’t want to unintentionally send the wrong message. If you cross your arms or legs, you might be signaling that you are closed off and refuse questions or suggestions.

Tone and Inflection in Oral Communication

Use inflection and tone to convey meaning in oral communication. You want to make sure people understand what you say. This is crucial if you have a dry or sarcastic sense of humor.


Negotiating through conflict is a hard skill to find and a harder one to develop. Many people despise conflict. Some people respond to conflict by avoiding it, and 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, and it is bold and confident. Lots of people today, especially millennials, have a habit of using less assertive language when communicating. This communication may be a symptom of anxiety, depression, lack of self-worth, or even impostor syndrome.

For example, these are weak voices:

  1. Your team is in a meeting, and you’ve finished explaining your idea, strategy, or training. Then a millennial coworker raises their hand. They speak haltingly or nervously and say, “Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you,” or “Sorry, I hope it’s ok to ask this . . .”
  2. You ask a Millennial, or even a Gen-Zer, to complete a task and when they think they’ll complete it. Their response has a protective uncertainty like, “I think I can have it done by . . .” But this response gives you no certainty.

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

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.

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 a relevant skill for in-person jobs. Employers look for it because they won’t have to constantly check in on and follow up with self-motivated employees.

Time Management

Time is money, as they say. 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. So, be sure to have outstanding time management skills.

General Job Skills

Customer Service

Many service industry jobs are currently hiring, and they need help. The challenge of these jobs, for some, is having customer service skills. 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.
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. However, 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. Plus, your results should help guide you into better managing your emotions.
The better you manage your emotions at work, the better you 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 list the required skills for the job. When writing a resume, you want to show that you have relevant skills that match. Also, a dedicated skills list section on your resume helps employers evaluate how well you’ll fit the position.

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. 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. We want to help you, your business, and your employees succeed.