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What Skills Are Employers Looking For In 2023?

Business recruiters around the world are seeking employees with strong cross-cultural skills as well as an affinity all things technology

Fri Jul 28 2023

Employers expect hybrid work will become more technologically dynamic and multicultural in future, so what skills are they looking for in new hires? 

A new GMAC survey reveals a number of essential skills recruiters are finding increasingly desirable. The GMAC Corporate Recruiters survey is based on responses from more than 1000 recruiters from 34 different countries. They come from a range of industries and more than half work for the Global 500. 

While the report shows traditional interpersonal abilities remain highly sought after, leading businesses across all sectors have revealed a number of skills that they foresee are becoming more valuable today, and predict will be essential in the future workplace. 

What skills are employers looking for in today’s workplace? 

Overwhelmingly, the most valuable characteristics that employers are seeking from candidates are strong people skills and the ability to work well in a team.

According to the survey, 62% of employers worldwide believe that interpersonal skills are critical for candidates to possess, while a further 59% state that communication skills are highly important. Since the core of many businesses revolves around collaboration, being able to foster a goal-oriented community remains as vital as ever. 

However, companies are seeking more than just competent social skills. They are also looking for graduates who display traits of ingenuity. 

A significant 56% of employers report they value strategy and innovation among the most important abilities a candidate can possess. In a corporate landscape constantly facing unpredictable challenges, being able to come up with new, outside-the-box solutions is essential for survival. 

Similarly, over half of global employers rate data analysis and interpretation as valuable skills, since much of business is now dictated by algorithms. 

Knowledge of technology, software, and programming are also singled out by a significant portion of employers as being desirable in candidates. These areas include VR, blockchain, cloud-based tech, and AI.  

Though these skills are globally sought after, there are regional differences in the specific skills that employers across the globe are looking for. 

Companies in Western Europe report being most concerned about candidates’ digital communication abilities, while those in the US and South and Central Asia are more focused on technological skills.

What skills do finance, technology, consulting employers look for in new hires? 

Finance, technology and consulting are three of the most popular industries for business school graduates to enter. In the survey, recruiters from these fields report several specific skillsets that they are seeking in candidates. 

All three sectors are particularly interested in finding candidates who have skills in cross-cultural communication and are able to speak multiple languages. 

As companies branch out to seek talent across the globe, it is essential that employees not only communicate effectively, but sensitively. Employers in these sectors want new hires who know how to relate to and work with others from diverse backgrounds.

However, there are differences between how recruiters in each sector feel the current talent pool reflects these skills. 

While the majority of tech and consultancy employers feel that business school graduates have sufficient language skills, less than half of tech companies say they are able to communicate with people from different cultures effectively.  

More pessimistically, under half of recruiters from the finance sector say that business school graduates have sufficient cross-cultural and multilinguistic skills. 

These concerns are also mirrored by employers from certain regions. Fewer than half of employers in Western Europe feel that business grads are cross-culturally competent, while US employers are the most critical over graduates’ cross-cultural, linguistic, and active listening skills. 

More broadly, skills in technology are highly sought after by employers from these sectors. Consulting employers specify programming, cloud-based technology, and data visualization as key abilities they are looking for, while tech recruiters are particularly focused on AI competence and machine learning.

If graduates are looking to stand out in these fields—particularly in the US—demonstrating an understanding of other cultures as well as a competency in new technologies is a necessity. 

What skills will employers of the future look for? 

Though already highly valued, communication is the number one skill employers believe will be important in the future. A significant 70% of employers say the ability to convey information effectively to others will only increase in importance within the next five years. 

Specifically, 81% percent of employers feel cross-cultural competence will grow more necessary, while 77% highlight multilingualism and a further 75% say active listening. 

These traits lend themselves to a corporate world that is becoming increasingly diverse in its workforce and outlook.   

Data analysis and interpretation as well as strategic thinking are also skills that are highly valued now and will continue to grow in importance. 

Employers highlight several skills that, while not as crucial in the immediate employment sphere, are projected to become more sought after in future. For example, 62% of employers say that technology, software, and programming will become more important in the next five years. 

When asked what specific technological skills they are looking out for, 83% of employers point out Web3, blockchain and VR as skills that will become more important. 

Following closely behind is cloud-based technology, which is cited by 75% of employers, and VR and machine learning, which 74% of employers believe are gaining relevance. 

Compared with several other regions, US employers place high future importance on technological skills, however only 54% felt that business school graduates are accurately prepared.

By contrast, more than half of Central and South Asian employers feel that candidates are sufficiently prepared in tech. 

Other skills that employers believe will become more important are business ethics, media communication and a knowledge of human behavior.

Top Communication Skills Of The Future

Top Technology Skills Of The Future

Most top business school programs currently teach strong leadership and communication skills to their students, which will prepare them well for a multicultural working environment. 

Equally, more and more leading programs are incorporating modules on subjects such as AI, VR, and blockchain, which can provide graduates with the technological skills necessary to compete across a variety of industries.