If you’ve returned to the office this New Year with a resolution to bag that big promotion or finally start your quest for a new role, then chances are you’re considering brushing up on a few key skills beforehand. But, at such a competitive time of year, which ones are going to make a difference to your next career move?

New data from global recruitment firm Michael Page – drawn from two surveys of 1,196 British workers and 240 UK recruiters – has shown that the skills British employees believe will be important to their careers in 2018, and those recruiters deem most valuable, differ dramatically.

For example, when asked to choose which transferrable job skills they consider valuable to their career for 2018, the ability to problem-solve (i.e. think laterally) came out on top for workers (53 per cent), whereas recruiters labelled adaptability (i.e. the ability to accommodate change) the most valuable skills for candidates’ careers in the coming year (71 per cent).

The consultant research reveals a comprehensive list of the most valuable career skills for 2018, according to those recruiting for roles right now – providing food for thought for workers looking to reassess their professional skill set this year.

The surveys also shed light on the skills candidates might be underestimating – just 17 per cent of workers deemed commercial awareness (i.e. financial acumen and awareness) important for their career development this year, yet recruiters ranked it the second-most valuable skill a candidate could bring to the table (69 per cent).

Similarly, a number of other core business skills were equally underrated by workers, including:

  • Stakeholder management (55 per cent recruiters vs. 12 per cent workers)
  • The ability to calculate and communicate return on investment (ROI) (33 per cent vs. 7 per cent)
  • Strategy and change (42 per cent vs. 20 per cent)

Corinne Mills, careers coach and managing director at Personal Career Management, says, ‘In the current competitive job market, it’s not only important for candidates to show they can do the job today, they must also show they are likely to be an asset for the future. Demonstrating that their input can create long-term value for the organisation, whether it is by identifying new ways to improve business performance, make customers happier or generate more sales is key.

‘Ultimately, recruiting staff is a business decision and this survey is a useful reminder to candidates that they are more likely to be appointed if they are attuned to an organisation’s business imperatives, and have the commercial skills to succeed.’

Additional findings from the research reveals that while six in ten (60 per cent) workers believe their professional skillset has improved over the past twelve months, they might still face an uphill battle finding their next role. Half of recruiters (50 per cent) say today’s candidates struggle to identify their key skills, and two thirds (65 per cent) believe consumers don’t understand how to match those skills to specific jobs or career opportunities.

Oliver Watson, executive board director, UK and NA, at PageGroup, comments, ‘January is always a good time to take stock of your career. Assessing your goals and identifying the skills you’ll need to achieve them – as well as those that will set you apart – is a great way to ensure continued professional development.

‘Understanding the expertise businesses and recruiters are seeking is equally important – enabling you to highlight the skills they want to see, and recognise the areas you should invest time in developing. After all, with skills requirements constantly changing in today’s fast-paced business environment, the expertise candidates consider important isn’t always guaranteed to secure them their next career move.’

Further reading on career skills

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