The Top Ten Skills Employers Are Looking For

The modern-day economy and job market changes so rapidly, it’s hard to tell what are the exact skills that employers are looking for in new hires.

Business is evolving to the point where the jobs that will be required in ten years haven’t even been invented yet. But are the most desirable skills STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills? Or writing skills?

While specific skills that a certain job requires are certainly important, the most important skills employers are looking for are soft skills. But what are soft skills?

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are those skills that you can take with you from job to job, the skills that are needed to succeed anywhere. Soft skills can be broken down into two tiers: foundational behaviors like professionalism, getting along with others, getting the job done on schedule, showing up to work on time and dressed for the job. In addition, there are higher order soft skills, such as those detailed below.

Specifically, the World Economic Forum published a report this year that focused on employment and business trends worldwide. The report details the top skills employers are looking for in 2020, and currently (2015).

Top Ten Soft Skills in 2020

10. Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is usually defined as part of executive functioning, which is the mastery of all cognitive skills; it is described as the ability to multitask a number of different thoughts simultaneously.

9. Negotiation

The ability to take in a number of criteria and work to find the best outcome for a particular party.

8. Service orientation

Hospitality; Providing customer service. Research shows that determining a prospective employee’s customer service ability prior to hire can greatly benefit the organization.

7. Judgment and decision making

Do you decide which projects to prioritize well? Can you make decisions objectively, without bias? Judgment and decision making skills can save reputation and money when done correctly.

6. Emotional intelligence

Often abbreviated EQ, this is the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Test your skills by judging facial expressions or with a short EQ quiz.

5. Coordinating with others

Coordination is vital to working in any kind of team environment. The ability to pick up on cues and predict others’ behavior, plan and communicate are key in working with others. Very few jobs involve little to no collaboration with others.

4. People management

Most of us have had supervisors who were good at their jobs, but not good at managing people. Many organizations don’t look at the ability of the applicant to manage people; instead, the focus is on the ability to do the job itself.

3. Creativity

Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Some researchers posit that the economic future will belong to those whose “right-brain” thinking will mark the difference between those who get ahead and those who don’t.

2. Critical thinking

The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment, that which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Take this quiz for some thinking cap questions.

1. Complex problem solving

The Journal of Problem Solving defines this the process by which humans solve the many problems they have to face in everyday life that are quite complex, involving multiple goals as well as many possible actions that could be considered.


Contrast that with the skills that are needed today:

Top ten skills in 2015

10. Creativity

See above

9. Active Listening

Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when people talk to each other, they don’t listen attentively. They are often distracted, half listening, half thinking about something else.

8. Judgment and decision making

See above

7. Service orientation

See above

6. Quality control

Many people think of quality control as a strict process known as ISO 9000. But it doesn’t have to be that formal. In terms of soft skills, it is the ability to determine if a work product meets standards consistently.

5. Negotiation

See above

4. Critical thinking

See above

3. People management

See above

2. Coordinating with others

See above.

1. Complex problem solving

See above

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *