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Employers look for jobseekers with leadership skills for 2021


As we head into 2021, many industries are still working largely remotely with Covid-19 having dramatically changed the world of work. The hiring landscape shifted over 2020 with a different set of skills needed for 2021. If you’re applying for jobs at the moment, you should this in bear in mind.

Luckily for you, we’ve done the leg work. Here at Adzuna, we took a look at the top skills employers are looking for right now, by analysing over 600,000 UK job ads and just under 150,000 jobseeker CVs, to give you the knowledge and confidence you need to succeed. Read on to find out the top skills you should aim to showcase on your 2021 CV.


Leadership skills including Coaching, Onboarding and Decision Making most sought-after

Our first notable finding is that employers are placing greater emphasis on Coaching, Onboarding and Decision Making skills compared to a year ago, as hiring and leading teams through the pandemic is a particular focus. Coaching skills were referenced in 3.7% of job ads in 2020, up from 3.3% in 2019, making it the skill growing most in popularity. Onboarding is second, referenced in 0.7% of job ads in 2020, up from 0.4%, as the rise in remote working has driven a need for more onboarding specialists. Decision Making is 4th, cited in 1.5% of job ads, up from 1.3%.

This sharpened focus on skilled staff is also seen in job vacancy numbers. Overall, advertised UK vacancies are down 35.8% compared to a year ago, but entry-level graduate vacancies are down 61.0% year-on-year. And there are just over 8,000 advertised graduate vacancies currently available, compared to over 22,000 of the highest-paid roles with advertised salaries over £70,000, typically suitable for more experienced jobseekers.

Jobseekers with Digital Marketing skills and GDPR knowledge are also in growing demand as employers focus on harnessing the power of the internet, rather than bricks and mortar stores and offices, to reach their customers. Digital Marketing was cited on 1.0% of all job ads in 2020, up from 0.9% in 2019, yet just 5% of jobseekers mention the skill on their CV. Similarly, GDPR featured in 1.1% of job ads in 2020, up from 1.0% in 2019, with 4.3% of jobseekers citing the skill on their CV.


Table 1: 15 skills where demand is growing

Skill% of job ads, 2019% of job ads, 2020Change
Driving license2.14%2.42%0.28%
Decision making1.31%1.46%0.15%
Digital marketing0.88%1.00%0.11%
Big Data0.44%0.51%0.07%
Cyber security0.49%0.56%0.07%
Critical Thinking0.14%0.18%0.04%
Sign language0.06%0.08%0.02%
Machine Learning0.56%0.58%0.02%


Tech skills are growing in demand

If you’re a Tech expert, the world (okay, the UK) is your oyster. There is a significant skills gap within the UK Tech industry with over 81,700 IT jobs currently on offer in the UK, accounting for 8.3% of total hiring. However, IT skills are only mentioned in 6.8% of UK CVs. This has increased slightly from 6.10% in 2019, but it still highlights a notable gap in an industry that boasts an average salary of £53,518 (45.0% above the national average of £36,903).

Many specific tech skills are also growing in demand among employers. Programming language Python was cited in 1.6% of job ads in 2020, up from 1.5% in 2019. This is also the most common coding language referenced on jobseekers CVs, found in 6.9%, compared to the 5.6% of jobseekers referencing Java, and just 0.5% mentioning Perl. 4,479 job ads overall require Coding skills. If you have these skills, you should definitely make them front and centre on your CV.

Cyber Security, AI and Machine Learning are three more skills growing in demand. Cyber Security was cited in 0.6% of job ads in 2020, up from 0.5% in 2019, with 1.7% of jobseekers currently referencing this skill on their CV. Meanwhile AI and Machine Learning are cited by 0.5% and 0.6% of job ads respectively.

By contrast, the skills gap within Digital has decreased year-on-year. There are 45,800 Digital jobs across the UK, equal to 14.8% of all vacancies. However, the number of jobseekers showcasing digital skills on their CV has increased year-on-year from 16.7% to 19.3%, closing the skills gap in this sector.



Growing competition for Design jobs

Competition for design-based jobs is higher than average this year. Design skills are featured on just over a third of UK CV’s (34.7%) this year. This has increased from 32.5% in 2019 and has closed the skills gap in a highly competitive industry. There are currently over 4,400 Creative & Design sector jobs on offer across the UK, but this is 41.9% lower than a year ago, meaning competition is at an all-time high.


Consider most in-demand skills when switching careers

In total, 1 in 4 UK workers (25.0%) are considering a career change for 2021,  making understanding the top skills employers are looking for more important than ever. In answer to the question ‘Are you considering a career change for 2021’ 6.8% of respondents said they are ‘definitely looking to change career’ in 2021, 7.2% of respondents said they would ‘consider changing career’ in 2021, and a further 11.0% said they ‘wouldn’t rule it out’.

In response to this huge demand, we’ve launched a new tool called CareerPaths to help jobseekers explore their career options based on their current skill set. It’s worth checking out if you’re currently jobhunting!

Languages can also help secure a job

French is the most sought after language in the UK job market, with 2,908 active vacancies looking for French speakers in the UK. German is the 2nd most in-demand language with 2,457 active job vacancies, while Spanish rounds out the top 3 with 1,704 open job vacancies. French is the most common second language with 12.1% of CV’s referencing French as a skill or qualification. In comparison 9.6% of CVs reference Spanish, 6.0% cite German and 5.6% reference Italian. There is a notable opportunity for Mandarin speakers with only 1% referencing the language and 893 open opportunities for Mandarin speakers.

Cited by just 3.2% of jobseekers on their CV, Arabic is becoming more sought-after by employers, with 0.13% of job ads referencing the language in 2020, up from 0.10% in 2019. Similarly, Sign Language was referenced in 0.08% of job ads in 2020, up from 0.06% in 2019, with 984 jobseekers citing BSL on their CV in 2020 and 300 citing ASL.


Table 2: Top 10 ‘hard’ skills cited in job ads in 2020

SkillNumber of job adsProportion of job ads looking for skill
Project management14,4532.90%


Table 3: Top 10 skills commonly listed on CVs in 2020

SkillProportion of CVsNumber of job ads% of job ads
Project management20.31%14,4532.90%


Now you’ve got the know-how, make sure you showcase your skills when applying for your next role. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of opportunities on our site. Highlighting any in-demand skills will help you stand out from the crowd.