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Candidate value proposition: how has it changed since 2020?

This is part eight of a series of blog posts pulled from our extensive New World of Work 2022 Survey Report. Here, we explore what skills are more valuable to employers now than in 2020.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

candidate value proposition

One thing that’s changed significantly over the last two years is the kind of skills that boost the net worth of a candidate when they’re trying to land a job.

The standard skills and background aren’t wholesale different than pre-pandemic, but the changing nature of the working environment (i.e. remote, hybrid, etc.) and shifting values of work (i.e. work-life balance) have changed things. Soft skills, specifically, have grown in value for employers over the last couple of years.

Let’s have a look at what skills really stood out for employers in 2022 compared with in 2020.

DIY on the rise

In 2020, a self-motivated or a self-starter mentality was valued by more than half of businesses (54.2%) when hiring.

That number’s grown significantly higher to 69% now – meaning, seven out of 10 businesses really like to see their workers take initiative without needing guidance or even motivation from their managers.

A surge in creativity

Another dramatic shift is in how employers value creativity and innovation in their teams. In 2020, 27.8% considered that to be a valuable trait when evaluating a candidate – that number’s nearly doubled to 52.8%.

Growing thirst for knowledge

Again, in the same theme of being creative and being a self-starter, there’s growth in the importance of willingness to grow / learn in a role. Employers value this more now (38.2%) than they did in 2020 (30.6%).

This speaks volumes to the growing trend of learning & development as part of an overall compensation package. If workers show they’re keen to grow, employers love that.

Adaptable and resilient? Meh

Going the opposite way, interestingly, are adaptability and resilience (down to 52.6% from 67.4%) and the ability to operate in ambiguity (22.3%, down from 26.1%).

What does all this tell us?

The overall working world is more unpredictable and perennially changing than it was in pre-pandemic times – and subsequently, businesses need to be more agile to survive and thrive.

And now that employers are operating in an agile environment as a rule rather than an exception, they need employees to be more creative and willing to learn in order to stay relevant and competitive.

But after two and a half years in this working environment, employers have developed best practices in management, and are identifying what works best in this new world of work. They’re no longer putting the onus on their teams to drive by night without the necessary guidance and leadership – but at the same time, providing just enough information for self-starters to thrive.

Ultimately, with remote/hybrid becoming the norm rather than a stop-gap exception, strategy and planning are back on the table – which calls for tighter leadership and clearer goals. But again, in that new working environment there will be gaps where an employee is working from home three days a week and must determine their own schedule and goals to align with their team’s.

In short: a self-start mentality continues to be valuable while flying by night isn’t required nearly as much. It’s a very nuanced difference.

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