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No company needs a static set of workforce skills. What developments shape today’s skills wish list? What are the top skills employers look for today? 

The set of workforce skills that any company needs is constantly changing. As market conditions, industry developments, technological advancements, company priorities, and other factors change, so must the company’s list of relevant skills. What trends and developments are shaping today’s skills wish list? What are the top skills employers look for today?


Trends Driving Today’s Skills Wish List

top skills employers look forAcross the U.S. (and beyond), three prominent trends are shaping employers’ skills wish lists for today:

  • Shift to Skills-First Hiring
  • Anticipated Economic Downturn
  • Hybrid Workplace

Shift to Skills-First Hiring

In recent years, employers have started to shift to a skills-first hiring approach. According to “The State of Skills-Based Hiring 2022” report from Amsterdam-based HR tech firm TestGorilla, 76% of companies in the U.K. and U.S. were using skills-based hiring to fill open roles last year. So, employers are paying closer attention to skills. Also, eliminating the college degree requirement for some roles is broadening the talent pool. Compared to five years ago, more new employees are first-generation professionals, and they are from more diverse backgrounds.

Anticipated Economic Downturn

Economists and business leaders continue to predict a near-term economic downturn. Navigating a down economy requires different executive leadership skills than those required in a growth economy. Priority tasks and initiatives across the company can also shift as an economy slows. Often, business leaders pull employees back from exploring new products, services, and markets to focus on core capabilities and customer service.

Hybrid Workplace

Even as employers are starting to call people back into a shared physical workplace, most are supporting a hybrid workforce. Employees and managers are still figuring out best practices for productivity and connection when some of the work is conducted from remote locations.

Top 8 Skills Employers are Looking For Now

It goes without saying that companies in different industries require certain skills that are specific to those sectors. Technology companies may need software and systems engineering skills. Manufacturing companies may need employees with machining, welding, and problem-solving skills. Hospitality businesses may emphasize customer service.

Even so, every company has some need for technology, problem-solving, and customer service competencies.

We looked at the LinkedIn 2023 Most In-Demand Skills List, an Indeed article on the top skills employers are looking for, a Forbes article from author and futurist Bernard Marr looking at skills needed for 2030 to see which skills are topping those lists.

Here are eight skills identified by multiple sources as top skills that employers look for now:

1. Management. High on the lists is the durable skill of management. We’re in a market of juxtapositions. Across the country, tech companies are laying off tech workers while other employers are struggling with employees who celebrate “Bare Minimum Mondays,” “Take Care of Yourself Tuesdays,” and other “Quiet Quitting” tactics that negatively impact productivity and work environments. Increasingly, companies are opening positions to people without college degrees and actively seeking out job candidates with diverse backgrounds, yet hospitality companies, retail outlets, and government organizations continue the struggle to fill their open positions. Managers are responsible for directing an organization or group to achieve a goal or objective. They manage the day-to-day operations of the teams and individuals. A good manager can be the primary reason someone will join (or stay at) a company.

2. Communication. Another durable skill across industries is communication. A company’s output – services or products – is created by groups of people under the direction of management. At every layer of the company – and across organizations, teams, and individuals – communication is the linchpin that ties the work together. Good communication aligns teams. It inspires individuals and groups. It keeps people connected and productive. Strong written and oral communication skills are essential for working together and serving customers well.

3. Teamwork. Working well with others. Doing one’s part. Following through. Individuals with strong teamwork skills reliably contribute in a way that helps the team achieve its goals. Especially in today’s remote and hybrid work environments, teamwork helps a company deliver on its customer promises.

4. Collaboration. Closely related to teamwork, collaboration is also a desirable employee skill. Teamwork combines the efforts of each team member to reach a common goal. Collaboration relies on people working together to complete a project or deliverable. Employees skilled at collaboration are responsive to one another. They share ideas and agree on approaches. Increasingly, teams are working together through virtual collaboration platforms like Slack or Teams. Whatever tools are used, when one person or deliverable is lagging on a collaborative team, others step up to support the individual and complete the work. A growing number of business outcomes rely on collaboration to get the best thinking behind the development and delivery of the best solutions. Excellent collaboration can help companies innovate and solve unique customer problems.

5. Leadership. The durable skill of leadership is important at every stage of a company’s development cycle. Senior leaders identify and communicate company goals and create a vision of success. Effective leadership when a business is aggressively growing will look different than when a company is primarily focusing on core capabilities. Leadership competencies, too, must keep up with the times – as industry and market demands change and shape what customers need and expect from companies.

6. Analysis. Alternatively referred to as “analytical skills,” or “critical thinking,” the ability to analyze information is valued across industries and job roles. Today’s work world is awash in information and data. Employees who use critical reasoning skills can find patterns; discern which information, opinions, and data have value; and communicate or apply their findings. It’s a skill that employers will continue to value for years to come.

7. Creativity. It’s not just the arts that rely on creativity. Creative thinking is useful for solving customer problems or overcoming obstacles at work. It can also fuel imaginations and spark out-of-the-box thinking and innovations that will help companies gain an edge in our competitive global marketplace.

8. Customer Service. Serving customers well is a requirement for gaining and retaining a customer base. By staying up to date on the best customer service practices, employees can even help their employers stand out from others in the industry – especially in a down economy.

How to Shift to a Skills-First View of Your Workforce

As your leadership team, HR leaders, and managers bring your top skills into focus for prioritization, shifting to a skills-first view of your workforce will help inform smart decisions.

To get started:

  • Refresh targeted skills list
  • Assess, track, and manage employee skills and competencies
  • Adjust workforce initiatives for alignment

Refresh Targeted Skills List

At least annually, review your company’s targeted skills list. Adjust it, as needed, to reflect market changes and company priorities.

Assess, Track, and Manage Employee Skills and Competencies

According to the above-mentioned TestGorilla report, more than half (55%) of companies are using role-specific skills tests to vet job candidates. Additionally, make it part of your learning culture to conduct routine skills assessments, to understand their proficiency with your targeted skills and the skills that are most important to their career. Use a competency management system, such as Avilar’s WebMentor Skills™, to track and manage workforce skills.

Adjust Workforce Initiatives for Alignment

Use your findings to adjust your learning and development initiatives, performance management goals, as well as company, team, and individual goals to keep your workforce skills aligned with company priorities.


To align your workforce with the skills you need today, download our Competency Management Toolkit for insights. Or contact us to find out how Avilar’s WebMentor Skills™ competency management systems could support your team.

To add to this list of top skills employers look for today, reach out to us and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!


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