New LinkedIn Research: Upskill Your Employees with the Skills Companies Need Most in 2020

December 28, 2019

As we enter a new decade of increasing digital transformation and automation, it is more important than ever to help your employees build the skills to grow their careers and propel your business forward.

What are the most critical soft and hard skills that organizations like yours are looking for? How can you close those skills gaps as efficiently and effectively as possible—at scale? (Hint: We suggest an online learning solution.)

In the upcoming LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report, launching next month, we found that the #1 most important information that talent developers want to help them identify skills gaps is to know what the most in-demand skills will be in the future. That’s one of the reasons why we are excited to share this list with you today. 

Every year, we identify the skills that companies need most so that you have some additional data points to inform your learning and development programs, help our members pinpoint which skills will be most valued in the market, and guide our learning content roadmap. 

To create this list, we surfaced data from our network of over 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs to reveal the 15 most in-demand soft and hard skills. More specifically, we looked at the skills that are in the highest demand (based on hiring rate) relative to the supply of people who have those skills. These are global rankings, but we only included cities with 100,000 LinkedIn members or more.

Here are the skills in rank order, how they moved compared to our 2019 list, and sample learning content to help your organization build these skills.  

The top soft skills are more human-centric than last year

Soft skills are the essential interpersonal skills that make or break our ability to get things done. We think of them as foundational and every professional should be working to build them.

Topping this year’s list are creativity, collaboration, persuasion, and emotional intelligence—all skills that demonstrate how you work with others and bring new ideas to the table. More task-oriented skills like ‘time management’ from last year’s list are notably absent this year. While these task-oriented skills remain critical to success at work, this year's results signal that companies are gravitating more toward talent with strong people-oriented skills.

Join Course Club to access one course on each of the top 5 soft skills—for free

The LinkedIn Learning Course Club is like a book club, but for learning. To help you better understand how LinkedIn Learning can help you upskill or reskill your workforce, we’ve opened up one course for each of the top 5 soft skills through 3/31 so that you can get a taste of the content library. Bonus—once you sign up, you will also get access to a fresh batch of unlocked courses each quarter!

Why just soft skills? Again, in our upcoming Linkedin Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report, we found that the 3 highest priority skills that L&D professionals are focused on in 2020 are all soft skills. Surprise. They also made it onto this list, as well.

Join now 


The top 5 most in-demand soft skills

#1 Creativity - same as 2019

Connecting dots—that are seemingly unrelated—to generate original, useful solutions is an incredibly valuable skill in every employee, regardless of what industry or country you’re doing business in. 

#2 Persuasion - same as 2019

Persuasion is convincing others to buy into your idea or a different way of doing things to build consensus or make a decision. It’s one of the most powerful communication skills for all employees to have in their skillset.

#3 Collaboration - same as 2019

People who can work effectively and efficiently to achieve a common goal—or influence others to the right end game. 

#4 Adaptability - same as 2019

The only constant in life—and in business—is change. Employees who thrive in a dynamic environment and bounce back quickly in the face of challenges are the ones who can handle anything that comes their way.

#5 Emotional Intelligence - new

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others. New to the most in-demand skills list this year, emotional intelligence underscores the importance of how employees interact with each other.


Analytical and data-centered hard skills continue to reign supreme

While the most in-demand soft skills are all about how employees work together, the most in-demand hard skills are the ones defining what they’re working on. 

These skills will continue to evolve as the world of work does and will vary based on industry and country. For example, for the first time this year, blockchain not only made the list of skills we look for, but topped it—highlighting a rapid spike in demand for these skills in 2020. 

Trending data also reveals that data-driven decision making skills like analytical reasoning (#3), up one spot from last year, and business analysis (#6), up ten spots from last year, are essential in today’s workforce. As companies continue to collect and analyze more data than ever before, they need people who can help interpret and take action on that data to drive growth. 


The top 10 most in-demand hard skills

#1 Blockchain - new 

Blockchain is typically used to support cryptocurrency. But blockchain’s novel way to store, validate, authorize, and move data across the internet has evolved to securely store and send any digital asset. As companies explore how to take advantage of this technology, they have a huge need to build this skillset, as it is extremely difficult to hire for.

Recommended Courses: 

#2 Cloud Computing - down 1

Today, companies are built and run on the cloud. They need talent who have the skills to help them drive technical architecture, design, and delivery of cloud systems like Microsoft Azure. 

Recommended Courses: 

#3 Analytical Reasoning - same as 2019

Today, data is the foundation of every single business. Organizations want talent who can make sense of it and uncover insights that drive the best decisions for the business.

Recommended Courses: 

#4 Artificial Intelligence - down 2

Artificial intelligence (AI) augments the capabilities of the human workforce. The people who can harness the power of AI, machine learning, and natural language processing, are the ones who can help your organization deliver more relevant, personalized, and innovative products and services  

Recommended Courses: 

#5 UX Design - same as 2019 

It seems like the average attention span of consumers decreases every year and they have no patience for products that aren't intuitive. Organizations need more expertise to help them build more human-centric products and experiences.

Recommended Courses: 

#6 Business Analysis - up 10 

Business analysis made the most significant jump of any skill on our list and it's one of the few hard skills every professional should have, as most roles require some level of business analysis to make decisions.

Recommended Courses: 

#7 Affiliate Marketing - new

With the decline of traditional advertising and the rise of social media, affiliate marketing is rapidly rising as a must-have hard skill. Affiliate marketing leverages influencers on social media to tie their brand to personal experiences and stories of an influencer in their target audience.

Recommended Courses: 

#8 Sales - same as 2019

You’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t need great sales people—those who can  effectively manage a sales team, the ability to understand the sales funnel, work with cross-functional partners, and sell into the highest levels of the business. That’s why it maintains its spot on the top hard skills companies need.  

Recommended Courses: 

#9 Scientific Computing - up 3

Scientific computing skills are held by data science professionals, engineers, and software architects. Companies need more professionals that can develop machine learning models and apply statistical and analytical approaches to large data sets using programs like Python, MATLAB, and others. 

Recommended Courses: 

#10 Video Production - down 3 

Video continues to be top-of-mind for companies because the consumers have an insatiable appetite for watching videos. Cisco estimates that video will account for 82% of global internet traffic in 2022.

Recommended Courses: 


Watch how two of the top skills of 2020 helped Quay grow her career

See how Quay, a rising leader at MGM Resorts International, strengthened her analytical skills and her power of persuasion on LinkedIn Learning to earn a promotion.

View full MGM story

“I believe that LinkedIn Learning has had a significant impact on my promotion. WIthout it, I would not be where I am today.”

        -Quay Eady, Director of Table Games Analytics, MGM Resorts International