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The most in-demand “soft skills” of 2019

Soft skills are becoming increasingly valued by recruiters. Beyond the technical “know-how” abilities, employers are more and more interested in the personal and relational qualities of their future hires.

In a study conducted in January 2019, the international job search engine, Adzuna analyzed over 3 million vacancies to find out which soft skills are the most in-demand. The research was then extended to 5 other countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and South Africa), allowing an insightful comparison of labor market demands around the world. The study shows that there are notable differences between English-speaking countries and their European counterparts. While networking and creativity is the winning duo in the eyes of Anglo-Saxon recruiters, rigor and motivation are the most often listed qualities desired by midland European recruiters.

Top 3 “soft skills” most requested by recruiters:

  1. Organization
  2. Motivation
  3. Problem-solving

At the international level, organizational skills take the lead as the number 1 skill, followed by motivation and problem-solving. This is hardly surprising if we consider that the success of virtually any company relies on its staff’s ability to balance tasks efficiently and on time. Therefore, strong organizational skills are a considerable asset, not least for its potential to facilitate the inner workings of a business. 

Reading the international jobs data, we noticed that not all countries are equally interested in the personal skills of their candidates. More than anywhere else, American recruiters are placing a very strong emphasis on personal skills. As much as 90% of current job ads ask for advanced interpersonal skills. In the United Kingdom, recruiters are slightly less concerned with personal qualities of applicants, with 79% of British ads mentioning soft skills. In midland Europe, the highest numbers were found in Italy (72%) and in the Netherlands (70%). 

Most in-demand soft skills in the U.S. versus the rest of the world 

Our analysis of international job vacancies revealed that soft skills are particularly sought after in the US. Since the majority (90%) of recruiters ask for advanced personal qualities from their recruits, soft skills are becoming treated nearly on par with the so-called “hard skills”. Our data also shows that the skills most valued by US employers mirror the global labor market trends. Based on over 3 million job ads, the research unanimously indicated organizational skills as the single most desired quality. This was followed by communication, diligence, and problem-solving abilities.  

Certain specific qualities are more valued in the US than on the other side of the Atlantic. This principally includes the ability to network, that is to say develop a network of relationships and profit from it in a professional capacity. This skill amounts to 12% of all job ads in the US. In the UK, the number is slightly lower – amounting to 9.8%. In contrast, in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, demand is almost nil.

Top soft skills by industry:

Communication 

Adzuna’s research found that strong communication skills are almost always listed as a prerequisite for jobs in sales or marketing. Necessary for effective collaboration as well as negotiation, communication skills are a must for all those thinking of pursuing a career in the business sector.

Diligence & Motivation

On the other hand, jobs in IT, engineering, and personal services favor candidates with high levels of discipline and diligence. Employers in these areas are most likely to select applicants who demonstrate personal drive above else. Motivation itself is mentioned in 8% of the job ads analyzed, and applies to many roles in sales and real estate. Curiously, it is also frequently mentioned in entry level jobs targeting young graduates looking for work. 

Creativity

Out of the six countries included in this study, the United Kingdom (7.2%), the United States (5.8%) and Germany (4.5%) are the countries which most value creativity. In comparison, the Netherlands (3.2%), France (1.7%) and Italy (0.3%) relegate this quality to the background. 

Bottom line

Competition for jobs is now tougher than ever. Getting straight A’s in college isn’t necessarily the golden ticket to landing a prestigious job offer. And as it turns out — neither are years of experience. To really get ahead, applicants need to balance technical expertise, the so called “hard skills” with the right personal abilities tailored to the particular job description. As soft skills are becoming a determining factor in candidate selection, job seekers should take the time to enhance their transferable skills, which will inevitably help them become more adaptable employees.

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