The 10 most-requested soft skills

The economy is changing at a lightning pace—and skill requirements for jobs are changing right alongside it.

"Entire industries are disappearing almost overnight, and legacy companies are quickly changing course," Jeff Selingo wrote in 2017, noting that the pace of change makes it difficult for colleges and students to keep up.

That might be part of the reason why soft skills are suddenly in wide demand. In fact, 57% of business leaders say soft skills are now more important than hard skills, according to a 2018 LinkedIn survey.

A new report by online learning platform Udemy shows that employers' appetite for soft skills hasn't gone away. To create the report, Udemy analyzed the top courses that workers were required to complete through their platform.

According to the report, here are the most in-demand soft skills for 2019:

1. Conflict management
2. Time management
3. Stress management
4. Communication skills
5. Company culture
6. Customer service
7. Emotional intelligence
8. Personal productivity
9. Storytelling
10. Change management

It's not surprising to see that time management and communication skills are still in high demand, writes Adi Gaskell for Forbes. She's also not surprised to see stress management rank so highly, considering the growing focus on employee mental health. In fact, about 50% of Americans report that they're consistently exhausted due to work, compared to just 18% two decades ago, according to a nationwide survey.

You might be more surprised to see conflict management at the top of the list and emotional intelligence appearing just a few spots down.

The Udemy report cites CPP Global research that found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week handling conflict, making conflict management a skill more critical to career upward mobility than communication or organizational skills. Conflict management may be particularly useful in multigenerational workplaces, suggests Udemy. Each generation has its own priorities, communication styles, and management preferences, which can generate conflict.

Emotional intelligence, which is closely related to conflict management, has been a buzzy topic for leadership writers lately. The skill has proven to be a stronger predictor of success than IQ in multiple studies. Emotionally intelligent leaders are also crucial to a high-functioning team, because they are better able to read emotions, manage conflict, and inspire others (Bolden-Barrett, HR Dive, 2/21; Gaskell, Forbes, 2/22).


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