The 10 most in-demand job competencies of employees in 2021

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Skills, abilities, attitudes, and aptitudes that make up a candidate or worker in our company constitute what we know as job competencies. Naturally, and over the years, these will change according to the demands of the context.

Today more than ever, we can affirm that we are living what is called the “fourth industrial revolution.” The rise of remote work or home office completely changed what we understood about the world of work. And with it, it also changed what we should expect from our collaborators.

  • What are job competencies?
  • The main types of job competencies
  • Are job competencies and skills the same thing?
  • Job competencies examples
  • 10 Job competencies most in-demand in 2021
  • How to assess job competencies

What are Job Competencies?

We could define job competencies as a set of skills, innate or acquired, general or particular, that is necessary for a worker to develop in a given role.

Job competencies can also be explained by understanding that they mark the way a person executes a specific task as a distinction. For example, we could easily find a handful of 20 or 50 candidates to become programmers in our company in just a couple of hours. But only a couple of them will be able to adapt to the culture of our organization.

Several authors and researchers developed the concept of “competencies” applied to the world of work, but the psychologist David McClelland in the ’70s managed to popularize the term.

In his proven theory, the professor proved that for a person to be apt to develop professionally, it is not only enough for him to possess knowledge about his role but also requires the development of other types of associated skills.

Main Types of Job Competencies

Behavioral Competencies: relates to those softer skills that are required for a job.

Technical Competencies: are those that make the effective use of systems, tools or mechanisms, exclusively necessary for the job.

Leadership Competencies are the qualities that make up the capacity and disposition to lead groups, which is also plausible to measure.

Are Job Competencies and Skills the Same Thing?

Often, and erroneously, there is a tendency to interpret these concepts as interchangeable. Although there are no absolute truths in the social sciences, the truth is that competencies and skills are two different ideas that share certain similarities.

Skills are specific abilities or knowledge necessary to perform a particular job. They are classified into two groups: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are usually technical, specific to a discipline (for example, using spreadsheets for accounting).

On the other hand, soft skills are more general and relate to a person’s performance (e.g., time management or verbal communication).

On the other hand, labor competencies are the knowledge that ensures that a person performs his or her tasks successfully, i.e., the “how-to.” It is how the behaviors of an employee generate more and better results, a fundamental and differentiating element among other peers or candidates.

10 Most In-Demand Job Competencies in 2021

The world of work is, naturally, in constant change and movement. A clear sign of this was the profound shift towards the digitalization of companies and the aforementioned “explosion” of the remote working phenomenon. These new ways of working, as we all know, were driven by the Covid-19 crisis that came to change our lives completely.

In this context of high volatility, uncertainty, and significant challenges on almost all fronts, it is of vital importance to make our company grow, betting on human capital, knowing how to differentiate which labor competencies cannot be missing in our teams:

Growth Mindset

Drive, curiosity, ambition. Any definition is valid to define a candidate who is not satisfied with the status quo. Who is not afraid to take risks, ask questions and try new things? All this to develop professionally and broaden the company’s horizons.

Data-Driven Decision Making

It is crucial that our employees, especially managers, know when, where, and how to choose which path to follow in a world in crisis—always oriented to maximize results and use resources in the most efficient way possible.

Critical Thinking

Questioning processes, goals, and group dynamics, among other things, fosters innovation. Giving yourself the space to re-think new innovative ideas that help you continue to grow is vital.


It is about dealing with frustration and negatives in life in general and at work and get back on track quickly. An ideal employee in these times must be able to “shuffle and give again” without significant inconveniences.


It’s essential to can change existing behavioral strategies according to a variety of circumstances and be resourceful. To adopt new ways of working either face-to-face or remotely, accept changes in the structure of the teams, use new tools, use paper help if you need to prepare a presentation or a report, and delegate some part of work.

Comfort in a Digital Environment

It seems obvious, but it is not. It is no longer a question of using a video call platform or an internal organization dashboard. It is about finding people who can manage their time and work performance 100% remotely.

High Productivity

In a social context of crisis, optimizing resources is key, and one of these resources is time. Our ideal worker in 2021 must be able to make the most of his or her time without neglecting his or her well-being and work stress levels.


It is crucial when working remotely. When working from home, it is easy to be tempted to focus on tasks that are not strictly work-related. It happens by not contacting colleagues, not attending meetings, or not leaving the house. For this reason, it is essential to commit to an organization and work tasks. To this end, it is necessary to attend online meetings, be online when appropriate, meet objectives and be accountable for results.

Independent Learning

Work and the way we work are evolving by leaps and bounds. For this reason, it is necessary to adapt to changes and have a continuous learning process constantly. For them, you can perform various practices such as requesting time to do a course or mentoring within the company. You can also look for new ways to perform tasks, incorporate new habits, or learn from your colleagues. All these and more variables are essential to consider when hiring an employee. It is about looking for those who are willing to grow with the company.


Nowadays, it is essential to trust other workers, respect their time, and communicate clearly and concisely. Teamwork is the key tool to achieve business objectives.

Times of crisis are indeed times of great opportunities to experiment, innovate and expand our horizons. Everything indicates that this context will not change, at least in the medium term. For this reason, it is essential to have workers with key competencies and a great capacity for adaptation. It is necessary to keep this in mind when setting company objectives or to start a recruitment process.

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