Career Coaching Online: Top 5 Skills for 2021

December 11, 2020 / Comments (0)


2020 is certainly a year that will be firmly written down in history and s it is drawing to a close, we are looking at a global economy that has been decimated by a global pandemic that has literally arisen out of nowhere.

Whatever your thoughts on the pandemic and I know there are many discussions and opinions out there, it is important to understand that there were serious cracks in the economy long before the pandemic originated.

We were living in a debt-fuelled world where the US and global leading stock market had reached all-time highs and where in my opinion, many companies’ share prices had become disconnected from their true value — this only helps to underpin the true position of rising debt and the impact of fierce competition.

It is, therefore, no surprise as to the impact on jobs and the general sentiment of fear and uncertainty in the career and job market overall.

When times get tough, there is no shortage of “experts” appearing out of the woodwork offering their unique and miracle cures, and the online career coaching industry is no exception — the Internet has revolutionized the way we live our lives and of course, conduct business, but you have to be careful to understand exactly who and what you are dealing with.

Looking back at my own career and how I have survived 3 recessions, I could see in hindsight, the same patterns of a booming economy, followed by a rapid contraction each time…but like many entrepreneurs, I was too invested and too busy in my own beliefs and positivity to take the warning seriously and do anything about it!

Today, as a business coach and mentor, I have the luxury of being able to watch things from the outside and help my clients avoid the mistakes I made and of course, accelerate their growth and profits.

And I have worked in the staffing and recruiting industry for over thirty-five years, so I am well in tune with the dynamics of the world of careers and I started this blog to share for free, my knowledge and help and inspire others.

So much has been written about the future of employment, the job market, and especially around the threats of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), that it is easy to curl up into a ball and live in fear…but you must not forget that until machines really learn to replicate humans, which I am sure they will do at some point, you have to concentrate on what I term the “human factor” and maximize your instinctive, emotional reasoning abilities, and other abilities unique to the human race.

I wrote an in-depth article about how to become an invaluable and the best employee in your company to get across my points as to how I see the world of work changing and what you can do to make sure you stay employable and marketable in the 21st century:

“Linchpin: How to Become a Linchpin at Work and be the Best Employee.”

In this article, I am going to give you my opinion as to the top 5 skills you should look to develop with 2021 in mind and these skills are by no means exhaustive, but they fit into the big picture of career development in an ever-increasing volatile, uncertain and hyper-competitive global world and economy.

But before I go on, you must take note of none thing — you can no longer be one-dimensional in your job role.

Companies that will survive and thrive in the new economy will be innovative, agile, and highly adaptable to change…they will need people to be the same.

So let’s get started!

Commercial awareness



No matter what the outlook for the economy, the business landscape, and who runs and controls it, you are still operating in the world of business and it is vital to gain as much of an understanding as to how companies are started, operate, make money and manage risk as possible…so take some time to learn the good, bad and ugly about the business world.

You don’t need to get an MBA, but you do need to go out there and strengthen your knowledge about all things business and thanks to the Internet and the huge amount of resources out there, you can do this easily from the comfort of your own home.

Here is an example of a free short course from the Open University here in the UK that can get you started and from there, it is a matter as to how deep and detailed you go.

When I started work as a salesperson in my first technology staffing agency, I had my work cut out just to learn the terminology to survive in the environment — I had a good grounding in sales, but very little knowledge about technology systems and operations, other than what I had learned in my computer science lessons at college.

But my success came from my understanding of the application and impact of that technology in business.

While my competitors were busy trying to “wow” clients with their technical understanding, I simply focussed on the outcome of the technology and the benefits to the company — in this way, I could take conversations away from the technical aspects and to a much safer place (for me personally) and a place that was relevant to the entire organization, not just the technical staff.

I managed this by reading as much as I could about business in general, which naturally led me to find where technology would impact business both now and in the future.

Whatever your role today and the one you seek in the future, it will always be relevant to business and the more you understand about the world of business, the better.

Emotional intelligence



I’m sure that you have encountered a few people in your life that are able to bring out the best in you no matter what situation you are in, or you are facing.

These people are able to naturally sense tune into your emotional state and almost instantly empathize with it.

Being able to understand, control and manage your own emotions will give you the ability to see the emotional aspects of others and in my opinion, most things in life, good and bad, will trigger an emotional response in you and it then comes down to your ability to control that response and if possible, look for a positive outcome.

Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient as it is also known is not new and you are born with it…but you have probably lost touch with it over the years.

Children and especially young children operate largely through instinct it is easy to see when they naturally gravitate to some people and not to others, without being taught by their parents…also look at groups of children when they play and the huge amount of emotion that surrounds that play.

In the job world, you will hear the terms “people skills,” “self-awareness” and “soft skills” for example, but nobody really tells you how to develop those skills, but a good place to start is to think about how in touch you were with your emotions as a child and if you can’t remember, then just observe the emotional behavior of children in general.

Here is a good explanation of emotional intelligence in general.

A strong and growth mindset



In my capacity as a business coach and mentor, I deal with a huge variety of businesses and people…but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the person or people behind the businesses when it comes to coaching.

Take professional sports as an example — at the highest levels, you have, for example, two highly trained and conditioned athletes competing for one winning place, so who wins?

For me, it is the person with the strongest will to win and who can overcome the mental challenges that come along to disrupt the process and allow the element of self-doubt to rapidly creep in.

Both athletes have the same access to nutrition, training, recovery, and performance development systems, but if it was down to those factors, almost anyone could become a champion athlete simply because there is no shortage of athletes who are prepared to work hard and dedicate their lives to succeed…but very few do.

As the world progresses through volatile and tough times, where hyper-competition is the norm, mental toughness and overall mental resilience will be one of the most important components of both successes…and survival in the job world and there is a huge focus on mental health and wellbeing at the moment because so many people are failing to cope with the ever-increasing amounts of stress and pressure.

Mental toughness is one thing, but you also have to have an open mind to learn and acquire new knowledge to help you in the future and this is where the term “growth mindset” comes into play.

There are many ways to develop your mindset and I can only talk from my own experiences and I talk about them more in this article:

“Growth Mindset: How to Develop a Powerful Mind.”

Digital literacy



We are firmly in a digital world and if you have lived through the analog-digital transformation, you will understand how profound this was and the impact it made on our lives.

The Internet has changed the way we work, live, and play — it is a game-changer for business and also for online education and learning in general.

Businesses that have failed to adapt to a digital world have suffered immensely and you only have to look at the convenience factor of using companies such as Amazon and eBay to see how the way we buy and sell has changed dramatically.

As my friend and digital entrepreneur Fernando Raymond says:

“Learn the digital skills to pay the bills.”

Fernando is passionate about living the life of his dreams which he started working on when he attended University here in the UK from his native country Sri-Lanka.

Fernando lives what he terms the “laptop lifestyle” and is able to work remotely and independently from any location, which has enabled him to build a digital marketing agency, an Internet hosting company, and an online education platform.

He is also passionate about helping others to succeed in the digital world and provides a ton of free content through his digital platforms and I should also add that he came to the UK with very little money and built his digital empire from scratch.

Whether you want to follow in Fernando’s footsteps or simply learn about the digital economy to pursue a career in the industry is your choice, but it is a skill set that is essential in today’s business world and as the digital economy continues to grow at warp-speed, there will be no shortage of opportunities.

Take a look at this free course on search engine optimization (SEO) from Fernando.




The career coaching training industry is booming and given what I talk about in the first part of this article, it’s hardly a surprise.

There are many courses out there that focus on developing leadership skills and that is because the business world as a whole is crying out for great leaders.

I am not talking about hierarchical leadership here, as positions and titles have absolutely nothing to do with leadership, so how do you define leadership?

For me, it is the ability to influence, help, inspire, motivate, and develop others, in line with pre-defined goals.

Leaders connect with people deeply and on an emotional level — they know how to get the best out of an individual and often in the most challenging circumstances — when leaders are dealing with groups or teams of individuals, they have an uncanny “knack” for getting the group to do exactly what is required of the group, but also the ability to still treat each person as an individual.

Over the years I have met many great leaders and from all walks of life — in business, sports, the military, educators, just to name a few and here are some of the qualities that they all displayed:

  • They had an unquestionable track record — all were significant achievers in their field, no matter what that field was and they were not always high-ranking individuals. You do not have to be a CEO or part of the executive team to be a leader.
  • Trust and confidence — they were all able to almost instantly build a level of trust with me which gave me a ton of confidence.
  • Inspirational — they made me feel that I could achieve almost anything.
  • They were receptive and open — they would listen to my opinions and regardless of their experience and even my wildest thoughts and ideas. 
  • They were extremely positive…but with a firm grip on reality — there is nothing worse for me than listening to someone who is always overly “positive” about everything. I live in the real world, where real things happen that are not always good.
  • They were calm, thoughtful, and decisive — I’ve been through many pressure situations in my life and career and I often turned to leaders for help. No matter how tough or challenging the problem was, they were always relaxed and calm.
  • They had both passion and purpose — there was no doubting that they did what they did out of passion, which gave them a purpose.

These are just a few of the big-picture qualities of the great leaders that I have met in my life and hopefully, they will inspire you to start to think and act like a leader, which for me is where it really begins…in your mind!

No matter what career you choose, or where you are right now, it is vital that you build and develop your leadership qualities.


I picked out 5 skills that I believe will be in great demand as we move into 2021, and after a year that has probably been the most challenging in business history.

The economy is volatile, uncertain, and hyper-competitive and it’s not looking to change anytime soon.

Many companies are having to overhaul their entire business structure and operations in order to survive and stay competitive in the 21st century and having the right people in the right place and at the right time will be a major factor.

But it is the “right people” part of the above that is critical — being one dimensional is no longer an option.

The skills that I have talked about are attainable…but you have to put in the hard and consistent work.

Automation and AI are here to stay, but so are humans — make sure you maximize your human factor.

Please let me know if you feel this is useful and if you are looking for straightforward, practical, and “real-world” online career coaching, then please contact me:


Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin-Entrepreneur

Last modified: December 11, 2020

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