career transitions: top skills needed for remote work by industry.

  • upskill
  • August 04, 2020

COVID-19 has upended the workplace in dramatic ways, leaving in its wake a new world of work in which remote work predominates.

But what work-from-home skills are most in demand today?

If you're currently transitioning to a work-from-home job for the first time, you certainly aren't alone — and we've got resources to help you out every step of the way. In this article, we'll break down:

  • the industries that have been most directly impacted by COVID-19
  • the transferable skills you should highlight on your resume in order to work from home
  • the skills you need to work from home (as well as those you can learn the fastest on your own)

This actionable guidance should help ensure your transition to a remote work arrangement is a successful one.

industry-by-industry impact

For companies across the board, the global pandemic has hampered daily business operations, impacted supply chains and caused unprecedented economic uncertainty. While taking those factors into consideration, let's narrow the angle a bit to focus specifically on the impact for personnel.

From that standpoint, which industries have been the hardest hit by COVID-19 — and which have been comparatively spared? Let's zoom in on four in greater detail.

healthcare: uneven impact

Against a backdrop of widespread job losses across industries, healthcare is one of two sectors that appears to be something of an outlier (the other is tech, as we'll discuss below). That is, while healthcare has certainly experienced massive disruptions in terms of day-to-day operations — new health and safety guidelines, new mandates for personal protective equipment (PPE) and more — there haven't been the corresponding negative impacts on headcount evidenced in most other industries.

There are exceptions, of course: healthcare professionals involved in elective surgeries, most notably, have suffered, with COVID-19 delaying as many 28 million elective surgeries worldwide. But most other healthcare workers are enjoying relative job security at the moment. Going forward, what's more, lingering health and safety concerns around COVID-19 will likely create new roles in the healthcare space, driving still greater demand.

hospitality: major adverse impact

Few industries have been hit as hard as hospitality. With empty airplanes and restaurants, closed or under-booked hotels and weddings postponed — to cite just a few examples — the hospitality industry is reeling. At one point at the height of the crisis, in fact, the hospitality industry was estimated to be hemorrhaging $534 million in earnings, together with more than 12,000 jobs, each day on average. No surprise, many professionals in this field are transitioning as a result.

retail: major adverse impact

Non-essential retailers in the U.S. closed in the early months after the pandemic hit, furloughing or laying off employees en masse. At the same time, curbside pickup and online shopping emerged as growth areas for many — Walmart, for example, announced that online sales increased 74 percent in Q1 2020.

These growth areas may be good news for retailers' bottom lines, but they're less consoling for staff members. For now, it doesn't appear that overall headcount is going to spring back to pre-pandemic levels any time soon.

tech: relatively minor impact

Like healthcare, tech has been for the most part immune to the worst effects of the global pandemic. Since the onset of the crisis, in fact, the sector has fallen only 2.6 percent, compared to a 10.9 percent decline for the S&P 500 overall, according to analysts. Many tech companies, notably, already had considerable experience with flexible working arrangements, as well as advanced infrastructure in place, which contributed to the success of their transitions.

identifying and highlighting transferable skills

Whether you're in one of the harder-hit sectors above or not, the scale of change ushered in by COVID-19 may be causing you to rethink your professional goals — or even to change your career path altogether. If so, that's where transferable skills come into play.

what are transferable skills?

As the name suggests, these are skills — more of them likely soft skills than hard — that you've honed through previous work experience that will come in handy in your new field or industry. (And if you aren't totally clear on the soft-skills-versus-hard-skills distinction, no worries — this article will help you out.) But let's turn to a few examples to make all of this a bit more concrete.

Transferable skills include:

  • adaptability
  • analytical thinking
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • customer service
  • leadership
  • organization
  • problem solving
  • teamwork

Just think of transferable skills as a critical bridge — a way of plugging the gaps between your old position and your new one.

which transferable skills matter the most to employers right now?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer for this one, unfortunately, but COVID-19 has broadly reshaped the structure of employment in ways that should inform your approach — and might even work to your advantage.

To show you how, let’s look at three of the most in-demand skills that are easily transferable across industries and roles, based on the latest data from labor insights provider Burning Glass.

1. customer service

There were 4,438,749 job postings requesting customer service skills in the past 12 months alone, making this the single-most prized soft skill during that period — and it's a transferable one, too.

Candidates from a wide range of backgrounds should look to leverage their customer service experience to pivot right now. Say, for example, you have a background in hospitality, but you're interested in a remote customer support role. Sure, you might need to learn how to use some new systems as part of your transition — but that should be no sweat, given that the soft skills you can't teach are already under your belt.

2. financial services/loan and mortgage processing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March 2020, offers wide-ranging relief options for federally backed loans — loans which approximately 70 percent of homeowners have — while also freeing up significant funds for small businesses. Small wonder, then, that Deloitte has called COVID-19 “the biggest challenge to global mortgage markets since the 2008 financial crisis.” Taken together with the rapidly increasing volume of demand being driven by small businesses, this is placing considerable strain on financial institutions across the board. Qualified professionals with financial services and loan or mortgage processing experience, take note.

3. scheduling

Nearly three million job postings in the past 12 months specifically sought out candidates who have scheduling in their wheelhouse. And bear in mind, it's a skill set you can apply across industries — from life sciences to office and administration to manufacturing and logistics, and everything in between. Plus, it's a core competency associated with entry-level clerical roles and managerial positions alike.

Closely related to time management (and make no mistake, time management is an essential skill if you are to effectively work from home), scheduling is an easily transferable aptitude. So if this is an area where you think you excel, consider directing your transition toward project management or project scheduler roles.

Ultimately, whatever approach you take, don't shortchange yourself by understating — or underestimating the value of — your transferable skills. After all, there's a reason some observers are calling this moment "the great reset," and it's an invitation to action that holds for employers and employees alike.

key takeaways

Surveying the current business landscape, it's impossible to overstate the impact of COVID-19 on companies across the board. For furloughed and laid-off employees, in particular, that's led to any number of hardships. But it's also creating opportunities for career transitions that would have been less likely otherwise.

So if you're transitioning right now, please know that we'll have your back every step of the way. Keep the tips outlined in this article top of mind as you tweak your resume for each role — and be sure to showcase your transferable skills.