Hays UK jobs and employment blog


Top skills employers will pay more for

By Hays Experts


With 92% of employers saying they have experienced a shortage of skills over the last year, skills shortages are at an all-time high. This has a knock-on effect on both staff productivity and employee morale – with 49% of employers reporting that productivity has been hit and 46% saying it has affected morale.

While the skill shortage is bad news for employers, it puts valuable employees with the right skills in a good position to negotiate a pay rise with their existing employer, or to get a better salary elsewhere.

But what are the top skills employers will pay more for?

Operations/ technical

Nearly half (44%) of organisations say they are in need of operations and technical skills to meet their current business objectives. It can therefore be beneficial to keep abreast of the latest technological developments in your industry, and become familiar with any new processes or tools being used. If you can demonstrate a technical skillset employers are looking for, you’ll put yourself top of the list for interviews, and will have a stronger hand when negotiating a new salary.

Managerial/ leadership

Over a third (35%) of employers are in need of managerial and leadership skills. As a manager, are your skills up to date? As a potential manager, do you have the skills needed to take your career to the next level? Managerial and leadership skills can be learned both on the job, including through work shadowing and acting up, and through professional training.

Project and change management

With rapidly changing technology, as well as political and economic uncertainty, someone who has the skills to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria on time and on budget is needed by 24% of employers. Project management skills encompass technical skills, people management skills, risk management skills and business awareness, along with the ability to work to a deadline and a budget.


You might not have quite the right skills for the job just now, but do you have the potential? In the light of ongoing skills shortages, employers are increasingly seeing the importance of hiring for potential, or training up staff internally, and investing in internal development programmes. Hiring for potential will not only help plug the skills gap, but can also tackle low morale through both career development opportunities for the individual and better staff resources for the team.

Besides these, there are other skills employers value, which may be less tangible, but are essential to a team and to your CV and references when applying for jobs in future.

These skills include:

  • Negotiation – whether it is negotiating a price with a customer or supplier, discussing workload with fellow team members or agreeing a deadline with your manager, the ability to negotiate calmly and to know when to stand firm and when to concede is invaluable.
  • Judgement and decision-making – knowing what data to share, what task to prioritise, when to make a suggestion or when to say no are all valuable skills which are learned through experience and essential to a team.
  • Emotional intelligence – being able to read and understand other people, whether they are colleagues or customers, is a valuable attribute at work.
  • Team working – building positive relationships with others and being able to work with them is key to achieving business objectives.
  • Communication – good communication is about being clear, concise and focused, and being able to adapt your message for your audience. Good communication encompasses speaking, writing and listening to others.
  • Problem solving – a logical and analytical approach  to solving problems, as well as the ability to approach them from different angles, is valuable whatever industry you work in.
  • Ability to work under pressure – being able to stay calm and organised without becoming too overwhelmed or stressed is a great asset to any team.

While skills shortages continue to be an issue across a range of industries, employees with the top skills employers are looking for are in a really good position to get the best possible salaries for their role.

If you are not sure what your salary should be, take a look at our Salary Checker, and discover how much you could be earning.

About this author

Beginning life in 1968 with just a handful of employees, Hays how has over 7,800 recruiting specialists worldwide, including 1,800 in the UK. Our consultants are experts in their field, helping professionals advance their careers, and organisations find the right talent.


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