Year of the Multitasker? The skills businesses are looking for in 2021


This week we enter the Chinese year of the OX. Our recent survey results suggest that, in the world of headhunting, it could be the the year of the multitasker.

With some teams shrinking and business needs adjusting to ‘the new normal’, it seems inevitable that companies will be looking to adapt intelligently and recruit differently.

Here’s a quick look at the skills business are looking for in 2021.

Multitaskers vs Generalists

Our recent survey found that leaders are increasingly looking to recruit candidates with multiple skillsets, which conjures thoughts of two kinds of candidate: multitaskers and generalists. Similar but different, multitaskers are required to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, while a generalist is generally seen to operate as jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

When asked how they would hire in the next phase, 67% stated they’d hire people with multiple skillsets, verses just 21% looking for single subject experts.



This does seem to indicate that when pushed, some companies may be looking to consolidate multiple roles into one, magical do-it-all human; which is where they’ll hit problems. While many people possess the skills to work effectively on multiple tasks at once, studies show that this will most likely lead to a higher frequency of mistakes and a reduced capacity to work overall.

We’ve all found ourselves in a position where we’ve needed to switch between numerous conversations and meetings in a short space of time, and we often find ourselves taking a quick breather and possible coffee between each. This thinking and digesting gap is necessary, but inevitably eats time out of the day.

Focussing on determining the right specialists for your company will likely increase productivity in the long run, so it’s worth prioritising if you’re in the position to.

Leadership Skills

In the stormy seas of the 2021 market, businesses need a dependable captain to steer the ship. The recent demand for leadership skills may reflect how employers are responding to the fallout of the pandemic, and where potential skills shortages and opportunities lie. According to job platform Adzuna, leadership skills including coaching, onboarding and decision making top the list of most sought-after skills employers are looking for in new recruits.

There’s an interesting trend for retraining as leaders. After a year of significant job losses across many industries, we saw people transition into brand new career paths, such as Professional and Personal Coaches (101% growth), and use their skills to help others lead better. Managing Directors became Business Coaches, and Business Owners became Life Coaches. The majority of people moving into Life Coach roles were female (61%), working in a self-employed or freelance capacity.

2020 offered those at the top numerous learning opportunities, and 2021 requires some new thinking. For our thoughts on the specific areas of focus for leaders this year, check our blog here.

Digital Marketing

We’ve all seen focus on e-commerce and web presence over traditional bricks and mortar stores and offices. This ever-increasing need for a strong web presence has led to a growing demand for candidates with digital marketing skills and GDPR knowledge.

According to data from LinkedIn’s ‘Jobs on the Rise’ report, digital marketing jobs were some of the fastest growing in the UK last year, with data showing a 52% rise in demand for such roles.

Looking at the specific skills that are increasing in demand most rapidly, eight of the top 10 are related to digital and data. Paid social media has increased by 116% over the past year, followed by ad serving (85%), analytics (46%) and social media advertising (46%).

Websites really are the new storefronts, and companies must invest in people who know how best to make use of digital opportunities. The trend for new thinking focuses on ‘innovative alternatives’ to traditional marketing, with these types of roles attracting a younger demographic, with an average age of 28. In our recent experience, candidates have reported increasing emphasis on digital skills in all areas of marketing, with job descriptions expanding accordingly.

Tech and AI

Reflecting the surge in digital requirements, many tech-specific skills are also increasingly valued among employers; but reports show that supply can’t keep up with demand. A study by Deloitte found that 62% of UK business executives reported that their tech talent pool did not have the capability needed to deliver firms’ digital strategies.

There’s even a new barometer to highlight the gaps. Launched last week in collaboration with leading IT jobs board CWJobs, techUK said its ‘Tech Jobs Barometer’ had been devised “to share key hiring insights and trends to help employers and recruiters navigate the tech jobs market”.

A fairly new job category which has seen significant growth in recent years is AI – with an increase of 40% hired in 2020. Online retailers and social media companies made up a majority of hires within this sector.

With swathes of companies moving to exist entirely virtually, increased learning, retraining, and upskilling will give your tech team a boost, while maintaining a healthy jobs market for the technologically focussed.

What this means for your business

We’re by no means suggesting a complete employee overhaul, more of a considered audit and assessment, with an open mind as to how best to fill any gaps, all the while retaining critical cogs in the mechanism.

Without the right structures in place, no business can flourish. Companies need to adjust their talent management initiatives to focus on retaining employees with desirable skills who are at a high risk of departure, as well as nurturing capable leaders who can advance their companies despite continuing global economic turbulence.


Looking to build the strong foundations needed for a future of growth? Speak to us confidentially at +44 (0) 203 675 1459, or email Orlando Martins at [email protected].

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