The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2018

January 22, 2018

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: there’s a decent chance you’ll be searching for someone with cloud computing skills in the near future.

No, that's not based on your recruiting horoscope—it’s the fact that cloud computing will be the single most in-demand hard skill in 2018, according to LinkedIn’s latest research. Using a combination of LinkedIn data and survey results, we were able to identify both the soft and hard skills companies are working hardest to fill right now. These are the skills you should know about and be ready to recruit for this year.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are defined as “specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs.”

Notably, “possessing strong hard skills typically requires the left brain, or logic center,” and are usually comprised of rules that remain the same no matter the circumstance. As such, these skills can be measured or defined more easily than soft skills.

Hard skills may also be learned in school or read about in a book and apply to a specific type of role or industry.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are defined as “less tangible and harder to quantify, such as etiquette, getting along with others, listening and engaging in small talk.”

Soft skills are derived from the right brain and include people skills, social skills, and personality traits. Unlike hard skills, they’re more difficult to measure. However, these skills are usually pretty flexible and can help a person thrive in a variety of professions or industries.

So without further ado, here are the top hard skills followed by the soft skills companies value the most:

The 10 most in-demand hard skills

  1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
  2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
  3. Middleware and Integration Software
  4. Web Architecture and Development Framework
  5. User Interface Design
  6. Software Revision Control Systems
  7. Data Presentation
  8. SEO/SEM Marketing
  9. Mobile Development
  10. Network and Information Security

Unsurprisingly, tech skills dominate this wish list. The few skills that don’t always involve actual coding are still tech-adjacent: UI design, data presentation, and search engine optimization/marketing (SEO/SEM).

However, even candidates with exceptional hard skills need soft skills in order to stand out and succeed as leaders. In fact, 57% of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills—even leaders from tech companies agree, like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Read: 3 Business Leaders Share the Most Important Soft Skills They Look for in a New Hire

To find out what companies are looking for this year, we surveyed 2,000 business leaders and asked them which soft skills they’d most like to see their employees learn. Here’s what they said:

The 4 most in-demand soft skills

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Time Management

Topping the list of desirable soft skills is leadership itself. The next two abilities also reflect on how well you work with others—clearly communicating and tackling projects together.

Soft skills can be harder to assess than technical abilities, but there are still dozens of tactics to suss out a candidate’s communication skills and emotional intelligence. For more information, take a look at these handy blog posts:

If there’s one thing that’s constant in the talent landscape, it’s perpetual change. As the business world in general shifts, new skills and new promising jobs are bound to fall in and out of favor. By getting an inside track on the hottest trends, you can out-recruit the competition by getting an early start on the talent attracting the most demand in 2018.

Top Hard Skills Methodology

There are thousands of skills that members can add to their profiles, so we grouped these skills into several dozen categories. For example, skills like “Android” and “iOS” would fit into the “Mobile Development” category. Then we looked at all of the hiring and recruiting activity that happened on LinkedIn between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, equaling billions of data points, and identified the skill categories that belonged to members who were more likely to start a new role within a company and receive interest from companies. Skill categories that did not meet a specific threshold for membership were excluded from our analysis.

*Image by WOCinTech Chat

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