10 New Marketable Skills Recent Grads Needed for the Covid-19 Era

From public speaking to personal branding

illustrated desk and screens
This generation of marketers has to ramp up on digital skills. Getty Images
Headshot of Karen Freberg

Covid-19 has impacted every industry, institution and organization. Even the most established brands have had to readjust their strategies moving forward, including laying off some of their best employees. Airbnb’s co-founder Brian Chesky recently shared a list of all of their former employees for other brands to hire. Agencies around the world are adjusting with applications for loans and events such as Cannes Lions are doing more virtual events in preparation for their annual event occurring next year in 2021.

Understanding the importance of being your strongest advocate and utilizing all of the communication and marketing tools available to you is going to be important to embrace.

As many universities around the country are celebrating graduations and new chapters for young professionals entering the field, it also brings forth the question of what the new normal is for the marketing and advertising industry. Many graduates and professionals are looking for internships and jobs, and many are struggling with the internship cancellations, remote internships or removed job postings. Layoffs are happening at the agency and corporate levels, which brings these professionals into the extremely competitive job market. How do you separate yourself from the crowd?

There are going to be some new expectations and changes the industry has to adjust to, and in order to be successful, professionals need to have certain skills. Here are 10 new marketable skills marketing and advertising professionals need to embrace:

Remote adaptability

Virtual workshops and collaborative teamwork set forth a new expectation for the industry. Being able to be flexible, empathic and adaptive in this current environment will become one of the top skills needed for marketing and advertising professionals.

Critical thinking

In light of the enormous amount of misinformation that is circulating online, being able to critically think, evaluate and determine the key components of what is true, verified and objective in its approach is essential to have.

Creative fuel 

Creativity comes in many different forms and everyone can be creative. This time during Covid-19 has shown the importance of taking time to not just do hobbies but embrace the benefit and experience these activities can bring to creativity. Whether it is learning how to do video editing to launching a new podcast and taking up painting or photography, each person needs to have a creative outlet to help them create balance in their professional lives.

Service mentorship

Paying it forward and giving back to the profession through education is one of the best ways to create an impact on the field, bringing forth a new level of respect and admiration, which can result in positive impact on your reputation. Sharing resources, helping others in sharing best practices and advice and hosting meetups are all beneficial. Matthew Kobach, a social media strategist for NYSE, has been hosting Instagram Live sessions with guests to provide value in the experience for his audiences, for instance.

Quick thinking

Being able to respond and adapt to growing expectations at a moment’s notice will be more appreciated and respected. Brands such as Chipotle have been agile in their approaches by changing their strategies as a food service brand and branching out to partnering with other entities such as Call of Duty and hosting their own prom afterparty with David Dobrik.

Personal branding

Networking, building communities and telling your own story are still very important in today’s marketplace. It is not only about what people know about you but who knows you and what you have to offer. Understanding the importance of being your strongest advocate and utilizing all of the communication and marketing tools available to you is going to be important to embrace.

Public (virtual) speaking

While large conferences, events and sessions are not available for all of us to come together now, it does not mean public speaking is not important. In fact, many events and conferences are going virtual, bringing forth the need for having strong virtual public speaking skills. Holding the attention span of a virtual audience is harder, and the time you have with them has to be impactful and memorable at the same time.

Presentation skills

As more activities, meetings and events are going online, marketers and advertisers have to approach how they are going to be presenting their client decks, conference presentations and keynote speeches to their audiences. Traditional programs like Keynote and PowerPoint are commonly used, but there are many others that could serve as a new approach for doing virtual events, such as Prezi video.

Digital certification 

With everything going online, from Zoom conferences to streaming services to expanding social media platforms, the added skills of digital technology are not only needed but expected. These digital skills can be gained through various certifications and programs, such as Facebook Blueprint, Google, HubSpot Academy, Hootsuite, Twitter Flight School and even Pinterest Academy, which offer free training. Even the PR Council has a new designated agency certification that will launch this summer.

Digital comprehension

Digital technologies can be looked at as a language and culture to master. Adobe has been a prominent advocate for digital literacy, as well as digital fluency (understanding the language and context of digital environments and communities) for brands and in educational settings.


@kfreberg Karen Freberg is an associate professor in strategic communications at the University of Louisville and is a member of Adweek's Academic Council.
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