In-Demand Skills 2024: What Employers Want

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated January 22, 2024

Automation is expected to impact 30% of UK jobs by the end of the decade. So, when it comes to professional skills, continuous upskilling will be necessary to keep up with these changes. This is especially the case for career changers. But, what are the in-demand skills 2024 that employers are looking for in potential employees?

In this blog, we’ll explore the top in-demand skills 2024 and how you can make yourself a more attractive career change candidate.

What’s Important to Employers?

New technology is something that we’ll constantly need to learn, master, and evolve with. But it’s not just hard skills that we’ll need to stay relevant in the labour market. According to a recent Pearson report, the most important and in-demand skills are “human skills”. You probably know them as ‘soft skills’ or perhaps ‘transferable skills’. And it makes sense. These human skills are what differentiate us from automation and the rise of Artificial Intelligence. How many times have you called a customer care line recently and struggled to speak to an actual human? It can be pretty infuriating! So, while there’s no denying that AI and automation can help us to a certain extent, the human element cannot be replicated. Not yet, anyway.

The Most In-Demand Human Skills

So, let’s get down to business. The Pearson report which analysed labour market trends in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, found that human skills were the most in-demand skills in 2024 and will continue to be moving forward. 

The top 5 human skills that employers are looking for in their employees are:

1. Communication

“The ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly, and to listen to, understand, and respond to others’ ideas.”

Communication skills always rank at the top of the most important skills for employers. And with good reason: effective communication has been shown to increase employee retention, productivity, trust, and engagement. And that’s just within an organisation. Communication skills are also essential when dealing with customers or clients. So much so that 99% of people say it’s important that a business communicates effectively with them as a customer

How to develop communication skills:

Here are four effective ways to enhance communication skills:

Active listening: Pay close attention to others when they’re speaking. Practice active listening by keeping eye contact, nodding, and asking clarifying questions. This not only helps you understand the speaker’s perspective but also demonstrates your engagement.

Public speaking: Get involved in any public speaking opportunities that arise. This could be presentations, joining a debate club, or taking communication courses online or in person. Public speaking is all about practice, so don’t let your fears hinder developing this vital skill. 

Written communication: Hone your written communication skills through regular writing exercises, whether it’s composing essays, reports, emails or a blog. Focus on clarity, grammar, and organisation and you’ll be amazed by how much time you can save.

Nonverbal communication: Be mindful of your body language, facial expressions, and gestures too as they convey a lot about your attitude and emotions. Your nonverbal cues must align with your spoken words.

2. Customer Service

“The provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase.”

We’ve all dealt with poor customer service in our lives. And we’ve also had the pleasure of experiencing good customer service. There’s a big difference, isn’t there? The thing is, customers who experience poor service are far more likely to tell others about it. This is disastrous for a company’s brand image and reputation. Studies show that 86% of customers would switch to another brand or company if they provided a better customer experience. 

How to develop customer service skills:

Want to improve your customer service skills? Here are some top tips:

Volunteering: Engaging in volunteer opportunities, such as community service or charity events, can provide an opportunity to interact with a diverse range of people. You can develop communication, problem-solving, and empathy skills while helping others.

Part-time jobs: Part-time jobs in retail, hospitality, or customer-facing roles expose you to real-life customer interactions. Dealing with various customer needs, queries, and even complaints hones your ability to provide exceptional service.

Join local clubs: Various types of local clubs involve interacting with other people, organising events, or collaborating on projects. Participating in these groups helps you refine teamwork, communication, and leadership skills, all of which are relevant to customer service.

3. Leadership 

“The ability of an individual, group or organisation to ‘lead’, influence or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organisations.”

Good leaders are hard to come by. And that’s because leadership involves a combination of many traits. These include effective communication, knowing their team’s weaknesses and strengths, diplomacy, confidence, and taking on feedback, to name but a few. But perhaps the most important characteristic of a good leader is the ability to admit their mistakes and to have others do the same. It all comes down to trust. If you trust the person who’s in charge, you’re much more likely to follow their lead.

How to develop leadership skills:

Here’s how you can work on your leadership skills:

Participate in leadership roles: The best way to improve your leadership skills is, of course, to put yourself in situations where you can act as the leader. If you’re still working, consider putting yourself forward to lead a project. It will give you hands-on experience in decision-making, teamwork, and guiding others toward common goals.

Attend leadership workshops: Seek out workshops, webinars and seminars focused on leadership development. You’ll learn all about leadership styles, communication techniques, and conflict-resolution strategies.

Start a personal initiative: Identify an area of interest or concern within your community or company and take the initiative to address it. Leading a personal project demonstrates your proactivity, problem-solving skills, and commitment to positive change. It also looks great on your CV!

4. Attention to detail

“The ability to be precise and accurate in tasks, taking care to notice small details and ensuring that all aspects of a project are completed accurately.”

Making mistakes is all part of growing. And learning from our mistakes is vital for personal and professional development. However, not doing so can reduce productivity and waste valuable time at work. This is why attention to detail is so important. It demonstrates your dedication to your role which, of course, is all-important in the eyes of an employer. 

How to develop attention to detail skills:

Want to improve your attention to detail? Here’s how: 

Break tasks into smaller steps: Breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps helps maintain focus on individual details and stops you from becoming overwhelmed.

Create checklists: Using detailed checklists and ticking tasks off as you go ensures that no aspect is overlooked and helps maintain a systematic approach to your work.

Review your work: Before sending that email, read over it one more time. Did you include a subject? Have you inserted the attachment? Regularly reviewing and proofreading work before submission aids in catching errors and refining attention to detail.

Practice active reading: Engaging in active reading with underlining, note-taking, and summarisation enhances comprehension and retention of key details.

Limit distractions: Minimising distractions by creating a focused work environment leads to better concentration and attention to detail.

5. Collaboration

“The ability to develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with others.”

Teamwork and collaboration are always highly sought-after soft skills by employers. But good collaborators are hard to come by as it’s a skill that also requires a combination of other soft skills like communication, relationship building, and negotiation. And the more interconnected we become as a society, the more important collaboration will be in a work environment. 

How to develop collaboration skills:

Clear communication: Effective collaboration hinges on clear and open communication. Practice active listening and express your thoughts concisely. It’s also a good idea to use both verbal and written communication to convey ideas, expectations, and updates.

Embrace diversity: Work with individuals from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets. Embracing diversity encourages creativity and helps you develop the ability to adapt and collaborate with a wide range of people.

Role definition: Clearly define roles and responsibilities within the team. Each member should understand their tasks and contributions, reducing confusion and enhancing efficiency.

Conflict resolution: Let’s face it, conflicts are only natural in group settings. So be proactive and develop the skills to address conflicts respectfully and constructively. Focus on finding solutions that benefit the team and maintain a positive working environment.

Feedback and reflection: Regularly providing and seeking feedback from team members will quickly help you develop this life skill. After projects, take the time to reflect on what went well and areas for improvement.

In Conclusion: In-Demand Skills 2024

So, there you have it – the top in-demand skills 2024 that employers look for in their employees. Yes, we will always need to upskill hard skills to keep up with rapid changes in technology. However, soft or human skills are what make us stand out. They allow us to continue adding that all-important human touch that technology will never be able to match.

Are you looking to make a career change? Be sure to check our dedicated Career Change Jobs Board to find the latest opportunities in your area. 

Explore our blog for the latest industry insights, guides, and tips to help you land your dream role. 

If you’re a career change employer, our services page has information on advertising on our specialist jobs board, creating a company profile, and more.

To see how we can support your business, get in touch or sign up for our free Refreshing a Career email newsletter with the form below.

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Last Updated: Monday January 22 2024
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