It’s not always easy to measure soft skills, but more and more, they’re proving crucial in an increasingly competitive workforce facing a shortage of highly-qualified workers, according to new data from LinkedIn.

A large majority (89 percent) of professionals feel their skills are more important than their job titles, according to 2018 LinkedIn research that paints a picture of the changing workforce and the skills that will help workers achieve the most success.

Additional LinkedIn Learning research notes that the combination of a short shelf life of skills, combined with a tightening labor market, leads to skills gaps. Talent developers, executives, and people managers agree that training for soft skills is a top priority for talent development teams–all the more reason why job applicants should focus on strengthening those skills. In fact, 57 percent of senior leaders today say soft skills are more important than hard skills.

Here are the top 5 soft skills companies will look for most in 2019, along with LinkedIn’s explanation for why the skills matter:

1. Creativity: While robots are great at optimizing old ideas, organizations most need creative employees who can conceive the solutions of tomorrow.

2. Persuasion: Having a great product, a great platform or a great concept is one thing, but the key is persuading people to buy into it.

3. Collaboration: As projects grow increasingly more complex and global in the age of AI, effective collaboration only grows more important.

4. Adaptability: An adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems.

5. Time Management: A timeless skill, mastering time management today will serve employees for the rest of their careers.

Though soft skills are in high demand, hard skills are still important, and LinkedIn researchers also ranked the most important hard skills for 2019–here are the top 5:

1. Cloud Computing: As the world rushes toward the cloud, companies are desperately searching for engineers who have the skills to accommodate this demand.

2. Artificial Intelligence: It’s official–the Age of AI is here.

3. Analytical Reasoning: As they collect more data than ever before, companies are hungry for professionals who can make smart decisions based off of it.

4. People Management: The world has changed from a “command-and-control” model toward leaders who can coach and empower, a difficult skill set few professionals possess.

5. UX Design: UX design is the key to making a digital world work for humans.

LinkedIn matched these skills with LinkedIn Learning courses that are free for the month of January.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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