The most in-demand skills right now are basically about being a good boss

The most in-demand job skills right now are so-called soft skills.
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Workers generally don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses. 

It seems companies are finally more mindful of that in the wake of the Great Resignation—if LinkedIn’s 2023 list of the most in-demand job skills is anything to go by. This year, the top two skills in the U.S. are leadership and management, highlighting organizations’ need for supervisors with the ability to effectively and efficiently collaborate.

But what does that have to do with the average worker? Keeping tabs on the most in-demand skills can get you a step ahead with recruiters and hiring managers. And that can be important, with many companies implementing layoffs and hiring freezes. While the bulk of the job cuts have been limited to a few industries—primarily tech—if the U.S. does slide into a recession this year, that may spur more widespread job losses.

LinkedIn’s 2023 most in-demand skills in the U.S. are:

  1. Management
  2. Leadership
  3. Customer Service
  4. Communication
  5. Sales
  6. Research
  7. Project Management
  8. Marketing
  9. Analytical Skills
  10. Teamwork

“The list makes sense for where we’ve been in the country in the last three years,” LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill tells Fortune. “The world of work is really changing quite a bit, and to see the top skills on the list include things like communication, customer service, sales, project management, research, and analytical skills—those to me speak to the fact that companies have done an incredible amount of hiring and they’re now thinking: How do we make sure that our culture at work is one where people want to stay?”

That ability to retain the right folks really comes down to having good managers and leaders, as well as really great communication skills throughout an organization, McCaskill says. “Particularly with people being both hybrid, remote, and in the office, you’ve got to really up the level of what we oftentimes think about soft skills,” he says, adding that those traits can really make or break a company—especially in times of uncertainty. 

Hybrid work environments are also making these skills more of a priority, as having a combination of these soft skills ensures that workers can effectively connect with their colleagues. Right now, employers are thinking about how to build teams that will be able to communicate and adapt and be resilient, McCaskill says. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, McCaskill says hiring managers and companies aren’t necessarily looking for job candidates with a specific degree or a specific school listed on their résumé—or even a specific company they worked at. In fact, more than one major company has reduced or eliminated degree requirements on their open positions. “Now, more and more recruiters and hiring managers are searching for skills—and employers are paying closer attention to everyone’s skills in this tight labor market.”

“What we’ve learned from the last three years is that whether you’re changing jobs or not, our jobs are changing on us,” he says. Virtually every industry has been transformed by technology, new ways of working, and a global pandemic. So those prospective job seekers who are able to bring soft skills to the table can help some employers feel more confident and say this is a person who can adapt.

Leveraging your skills

Younger workers without any direct management experience shouldn’t feel discouraged, McCaskill says. You don’t have to supervise direct reports in order to have and build management and leadership skills, he adds. Part of managing is also managing up—and nearly every worker has the opportunity to accomplish this, no matter what level they’re at.  

Managing up is all about helping to make your manager’s job easier, McCaskill says. That can look like asking really smart questions, keeping your manager on track with deliverables, making sure that you both are meeting deadlines, and ensuring they have all the assets they need to succeed. 

Workers who are still fairly low-level can also gain leadership skills. Younger workers, for example, may learn leadership skills from a spearheading a college project. But you can take that experience and use what works in future situations—whether that’s the way you communicate or the time management skills you learned.

Take stock of the skills you already have, including new skills gained from your most recent job—and then showcase how you use them, McCaskill says. Show an example of how you’ve been a great team player, managed up, or communicated effectively in a difficult situation. 

“Part of it is being able to talk about those skills in the right way,” McCaskill says. Managers are looking for problem solvers. So when you get that hiring manager or recruiter on the phone, make them understand the skills you have in place to effectively solve problems and be clear you can do that in any new role.

Focusing on skills also gives workers more of an opportunity to pivot. The most in-demand skills are fairly transferable across different jobs and industries. So when looking for a new opportunity, whether it’s internal or external, don’t just consider applying for the next level of your current job, McCaskill says. Think about the full range of skills you have to offer and how they might be applied to other jobs, other industries. A food server, for example, has nearly 70% of the skills needed to pivot into a customer service role, according to 2022 research by LinkedIn

“If you break down jobs into the skills needed, career paths for people open up, and you start to be able to think about your capacity in a way that you hadn’t thought about it before,” McCaskill says.

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