70% of job seekers think automation skills are the key to finding a new position


A new Harris Poll finds that Americans looking to gain an edge are trying to bolster their CV credentials with the most in-demand skills.

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There are 30 million unemployed Americans. A new Harris Poll commissioned by Zapier found that two out of five workers say they were let go by their employer due to COVID-19. At least 70% of current job seekers—those unemployed or employed and looking—believe the key to landing a new job is automation. The number is even higher (86%) among those with a college degree or higher.

According to the survey, “The Job Seekers Report,” 30% have added automation to their resumes, while 31% said they planned to do so. With so many job-seekers adding to their skill set with the key word “automation,” the Zapier survey queried, “is it possible employers will notice the omission?”

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise 2020: Tech leaders increase project development and implementation (TechRepublic Premium)

It makes sense that many Americans are looking to develop new skills or hone-in on existing ones—they’re competing with the 41% who lost jobs due to the pandemic, and those also unemployed, as well as those who have jobs but need or want to make a change. 

A majority (83%) either have learned automation skills or planned to do so in the near future. The need and desire for efficiency could be from the need to maximize crucial, available time. Work hours invariably come at the expense of those in the home who are remote-learning or those tasked with helping or even teaching those remote learners. 

Many are still working remotely, with offices closed, and are burdened with the uncertainty of when and if they’ll return to their offices. Many businesses have already declared a switch to all remote, a virtual office.

Those surveyed find the biggest benefits of automation are:

  • Makes you more efficient—42%
  • Helps you save time—42%
  • Allows you to get more done in a day—37%
  • Helps you be a better employee—35%
  • Saves you frustration on tedious tasks—29%
  • Helps you concentrate on important tasks—26%
  • Saves you from having to learn technical skills—24%

Automation skills are valued across a swath of industries and projects, including the obvious (and popular) robotics, mobile phones, healthcare, entertainment, manufacturing, education, product delivery, transportation, DevOps, IT Ops, software testing, home-help products, and more.

It’s not only Zapier finding the rise of automation. As TechRepublic reported in May, automation could lead to another jobless recovery, according to Forrester. The firm’s report, “The COVID-19 Crisis Will Accelerate Enterprise Automation Plans,” indicated how critical automation will be to companies looking to “lower their exposure to future business disruption.”

Leslie Joseph, author of the Forrester report, said: “[A]utomation is a very big motion within most of the large SI’s and consulting firms, who are aggressively upskilling their manpower. In fact, many SI’s with large automation practices began with aggressively applying automation to their own internal delivery and back-office function, at significant scale.”

The article in TechRepublic noted, “Another caveat that may lead to fewer job losses is the expectation that large-scale automation of business processes and routine, repetitive tasks will not necessarily lead to large-scale job replacement.”

Joseph told TechRepublic: “Automation is not just like any standard technology implementation. It requires significant participation and support from the existing workforce. Successful automation leaders will bring their people along on the journey. This will include elements of reskilling of people whose jobs are sidelined by bots, to bring them back into helping run and manage the automation program itself.”

Methodology: Harris conducted the poll of 2,069 US adults, 18 or older, online between July 14 to July 16.

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What HR teams and job seekers can expect from hiring as the pandemic evolves


With the pandemic lasting much longer than anyone expected, remote recruitment may be here to stay.

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The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly hit the enterprise and economy hard, with millions of Americans forced to file for unemployment as companies endure layoffs and hiring freezes. From the start, the pandemic has created a chaotic, unprecedented, evolving situation, during which organizations and employees have just tried to keep up. 

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The US jobs report in June did indicate a slight improvement though, said Brandi Frattini, talent acquisition lead at CareerBuilder.

“We actually saw some good news in June with the job report signaling a rebound–US unemployment fell to 11.1%. The economy added 4.8 million jobs, so there are some industries getting back to work. Companies are doing their part and preparing for this like great rehire. So that when the economy will bring back workers, they’ll be ready to staff up their team, even in a prolonged pandemic,” Frattini said.

“Companies are finding ways to manage the virus through tactics such as wearing a mask, regular deep cleanings, social distancing…these tactics are going to allow some industries to bring their employees back to work sooner and provide a safe environment,” Frattini said. 

However, certain US states have experienced recent spikes in coronavirus cases, including Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, and Mississippi. This uptick indicates that the US may not be on the home stretch with the virus. 

With that in mind, many wonder when people will actually return to work, what it will look like if they do, and how to sustain a prolonged remote workforce. 

What a prolonged remote workforce means for the enterprise 

“As time goes on, we can predict that these hiring freezes are going to lift, but it’s going to be depending on what happens with this virus and there’s so many unknowns. But, companies will start bringing back talent,” Frattini said. “The pandemic came as such a shock to a lot of businesses; no one could have ever predicted this situation. So it’s also only natural that HR teams and businesses wanted–or still want to–take a break, step back, assess the situation and the financials before hiring again.”

Companies that are still under hiring freezes can use this time though to build their pipeline, Frattini noted.

“So meeting candidates virtually, having those conversations about when the time is to bring people back. [Current remote] hiring now gives companies access to a wider talent pool and stronger candidates that maybe weren’t available before,” Frattini said.

“Our team is doing this, we’re revisiting the talent that was hard to find and maybe wasn’t willing to move before and checking up on them. Are they out of work right now? Are they interested? Maybe they don’t feel comfortable in their company’s ability to make it through this,” Frattini  said. “We’re able to build relationships right now and have those check-ins and candidates are really liking that and having that extra time with recruiters. That’s what companies should be doing to prepare and build that pool.”

The key to being successful during an uncertain time is adaptability and flexibility. 

“Companies, recruiters, candidates, everybody has to be flexible during this time. There’s so much change every day. It’s nothing that we can predict,” Frattini said. “Just having that flexibility and patience, especially for candidates, just really putting themselves out there and getting outside of their comfort zone; things that they normally wouldn’t have done, now’s the perfect time to try that.” 

“It’s a great time for candidates to work on their personal brand and clean up their social media. That kind of stuff takes time, and you don’t usually have that in your nine-to-five schedule to update profiles or create articles and do research to make your online brand known,” Frattini said. “Employers look at online sources and look at online profiles and those are usually going to have more information than the resume, so that’s helpful.”

How candidates can prepare 

With upticks happening in various states, online recruitment may be here to stay. Job seekers can take tangible steps to put themselves in the best light though. 

“Knowing that the recruitment process is remote, preparing your technology to make sure you’re able to do video interviews, have virtual conversations, and have that quiet space. Work with your family to make sure that you’re able to concentrate and shut the door during certain times,” Frattini said. “All of that prep that comes with interviewing that you would do for the office, you still want to do at home and ask those same questions.”

This is also an ideal time to perfect your resume, according to Frattini, which is a critical component of the hiring process.

“Crafting that resume that best highlights skills and achievements is really important right now.  Having strong descriptors and also data on your resume that shows success is going to be helpful,” Frattini said. “Including details about awards or membership or different organizations that you joined during COVID are going to paint that fuller picture of what the candidate can bring to the table.”

This down time during the pandemic can also give candidates the opportunity to really learn about various industries or organizations they are interested in. 

“For candidates, with having this extra time, they shouldn’t be rushing to select the company or industry. They can actually dive in and learn more about the organization,” Frattini said.

“One thing that candidates should do in their research [look at] how the company reacted and during COVID,” Frattini said. “That’s going to play into, ‘Do I really want to work there in the future anyway if they handled the situation not that great?’ Or, ‘Oh wow they allowed parents to have a flexible schedule.’ Those are the questions that candidates can ask now and that companies should be ready to answer.”

For more, check out How COVID-19 impacted job postings across US states and employers on TechRepublic.

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