The 8 professional skills most valued by employers

16/05/2022 | Santander Universidades

The way candidates are evaluated for a job vacancy has gradually changed over recent decades. Before, having technical expertise, languages, and work experience was the most important factor, but now, according to Personal Page, some 70% of employers use professional aptitude tests to identify candidates' so-called soft skills. 

Adelina Manzano, director of Human Factor, and with more than 30 years of experience in recruitment, says that this change is understandable because "efficient organisations have always needed qualified people. But the difference compared to a few years ago is that now, they're looking for professional and, above all, personal aptitudes". Want to find out exactly what these in-demand professional skills are and which ones companies value the most? Read on to find out. 

What are professional skills? 

Professional skills, also known as soft skills, are skills that have a more personal and less technical aspect, and that help workers to do their jobs more efficiently. 

Emotional intelligence, creativity and teamwork are some of the professional skills most sought-after by employers today, although there are many others.  While some of these skills are innate, certain other skills and abilities can be improved through training, experience and analysis. That's why it's essential for every candidate to be aware of which skills they excel at, as well as which they need to improve to continue their professional growth.  

With the right professional skills, problems at work can evolve more favourably and effectively. If, for example, an employee doesn't know how to work in a team, this is sure to lead to problems and barriers, but if they’re a good team worker, they will be able to hit the ground running and ensure the team’s optimal productivity.


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The 8 most in-demand professional skills today

According to a study by Randstad, 52% of current jobs may be fully or partially automated over the next decade. However, other higher-qualified and better paid jobs will also be created, for which it will be essential to have professional skills such as emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking. Want to know what the 8 most in-demand skills on the labour market are going to be?

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a person's ability not only to interpret their own feelings but also those of the people around them - which allows them to adapt to the different situations arising day-to-day at work. 

According to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence, "emotional intelligence accounts for 80 percent of career success”, so it comes as no surprise that it's one of the most valued professional skills in the workplace. 


Vepee, the leading e-commerce for flash sales, together with the consulting firm Kantar, has conducted the first major study on creativity in Spain, showing that some 70% of Spaniards believe creativity to consist of generating new ideas and innovating. The youngest age group, meanwhile, sees it as a way to evolve and solve problems - a vital skill in the workplace. 

The main skills a 'creative' needs according to those surveyed were innovation (according to 35%), curiosity (36%), an open mind (48%) and imagination (69%), while fear of what others will say or a lack of self-confidence are the worst enemies. Boosting creativity through experimentation, sharing ideas and continuous learning are a must in the world of work.

Professional skills


According to Tania Arita, regional manager of the Manpower Group,  internal statistics demonstrate that some of the skills most lacking among its professionals are initiative and proactivity, yet these are also some of the most sought-after. 

Demonstrating initiative, interest and contributing new ideas in order to continually improve, as well as feeling like a participant in a brand, is a characteristic that is highly valued by employers. 


According to a Gallup study, teams with a high degree of engagement enjoy better customer interaction, higher productivity, better retention, and are 21% more profitable for companies. Therefore, knowing how to work in a team is vital nowadays. 

Having the ability to identify with others, distribute tasks equally and respectfully exchange ideas while keeping the common good in mind are just some of the professional skills that prove a person knows how to work in a team. 

Complex problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving top the list of skills that will see increased demand in the coming five years, as per the The Future of Jobs Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum. 

According to this report, some of the most important areas for the future jobs market, such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence or Marketing, will need professionals who, besides having the necessary skills, also have the ability to solve complex problems quickly and effectively.  


The study 8 essential skills to succeed in a post-COVID-19 world, by the European Commission, affirms that leadership will be one of the most important professional skills in the wake of remote working due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Companies are increasingly allowing staff to work from home, so having middle managers with great leadership skills will be vital to maintaining team morale, and in turn, fostering collaboration, motivating and inspiring their colleagues.


Professional skills


Warren Buffet is one of the richest people in the world and is considered one of the greatest investors ever. However, at the age of 21, Buffet was terrified of public speaking. To overcome this, he signed up for a $100 course, thanks to which he became the outstanding communicator he is today. “That $100 college course gave me the most important degree I have,” Warren Buffet said at one of his conferences. 

Good communication skills help you to demonstrate empathy with your counterparts, adapt to circumstances and better understand how to transmit your ideas to others in a simple way, which can be really beneficial to teamworking and interacting in the workplace. 

Carl Zangerl, Head of Communications and Human Resources Management Programmes at the Faculty of Professional Studies of Northeastern University, states that: “During my own corporate career, I often noticed that the individuals who assumed leadership positions in even the most technical functional areas were the most effective communicators”.


The last of the 8 professional skills most in-demand by the job market is resilience, in other words, your ability to quickly adapt to highly changeable, ambiguous situations. In a work context such as the current one, where everything is evolving rapidly, being resilient has become a must.

According to a report by McKinsey, being adaptable to new circumstances, flexible, calmly taking on crises and knowing how to overcome them will be one of the 5 most sought-after professional skills in the world of the future.

As you have seen in this article, boasting these professional skills, among others, will open the doors to the labour market of the future, where with so much automation and technology, human skills will prove more valuable than ever. Boosting your innate professional skills and improving any you don't already have through training will be a must if you want to increase the chances of achieving your career goals. 

As part of this aim to boost employability and likewise help people to progress, overcome the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution, and grow in an inclusive and sustainable way, Banco Santander is committed to three key concepts: lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling. To support this commitment, it has created the Santander Open Academy website, a unique and pioneering global programme. 

If you would like to keep growing personally and professionally, head over to the Santander Open Academy website, where you'll find 100s of opportunities to train together with internationally renowned institutions. Access training in technology, languages, research, investigation, soft skills, internships and female leadership, which will help you to improve your employability or refocus your career.


Do you want to become a lifelong learner and increase your job opportunities? The Santander Open Academy website has plenty of options to help you achieve your goals. Check out the website and remember: you can sign up for as many courses as you like. Make the most of this opportunity!


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