Want a promotion or pay rise? 10 top skills to learn in 2024

top skills to learn in 2024
Time to take the next step in your career. Source: AFP

Everyone wants to get to the top of the professional ladder. But very few know how to go about it. In fact, a lot of people can’t even figure out how to ask for a pay rise or get promoted.

If this is you, don’t feel bad about it. Everyone goes through this grind.

Luckily, if you learned the tricks of the trade, promotions and pay rise wouldn’t seem such an unattainable feat.

Are our skills outdated?

Thanks to major advances in technology and a climate crisis, the job market is rapidly evolving.

If you really want to learn how to get promoted at work, it’s time to learn skills that are relevant to the times we live in, especially if you are a young worker or a fresh graduate.

Indeed, research found that approximately 75% of employers consider a candidate’s skill set as a significant factor in their hiring decisions.

With the advancements in technology, industries are undergoing significant transformations. Many of what you’ve learned in university are probably outdated.

Hence why getting additional skills beyond what you have learnt in college can give you an edge.

The job market is also highly competitive. Promotions and pay raises are often tied to performance and value-added contributions. Over 55% of employees who are seeking a promotion are often denied due to their limited skill set.

Possessing a diverse range of skills – especially those that lead to increased productivity, innovation, and business growth — can make all the difference in helping you stand out.

Along the way, you’ll naturally become more confident and adaptable too. Used right, these can help you enter new industries and adapt to changing trends.

top skills to learn in 2024

The top skills to learn in 2024 barely resemble any of the top skills among the unknown species of humans that lived on an island in today’s Philippines some 50,000 years ago. Source: AFP

History of skills: Everything you need to know

Before we talk about the top skills to learn in 2024, let’s shed some light on what the word entails.

Of course, skills have always been the backbone of human progress and development. From the earliest days of civilisation, individuals have used and honed various skills to survive and thrive in their respective societies.

The concept of skills, however, has evolved. The term “skills” itself dates back centuries, with its origin rooted in Old Norse and Old English languages.

In Old Norse, the word “skil” referred to understanding or knowledge, while in Old English, “scealu” denoted the concept of reason or discernment.

Both these words eventually merged to form the word “skill” as we know it today.

If we ponder upon the skills required back in the day to now, the differences are pretty glaring.

For instance, back in 1023, society relied on skills like hunting, farming, and similar other crafts – all of which we needed to survive.

Things changed as we made progress in technology.

Today, industries need a diverse range of skills, including digital literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, adaptability, and creativity.

Before the Internet, the focus was on remembering as much information as possible. You couldn’t Google answers.

But now that that’s possible, the skills needed for success in the job market have shifted towards those that work alongside technology.

It’s about how good you are at Googling, for example.

Knowing this is important so that you’re not highlighting the wrong set of skills.

top skills to learn in 2024

Former US President Donald Trump is seen as uncompromising. Although his supporters may see that as a skill, most companies view it unfavourable. Source: AFP

5 worst skills to have today  

Not all skills are beneficial. Some can be roadblocks to you getting that promotion or raise too.

  1. Uncompromising: Being clear about your decisions can be a good trait at times. However, you must keep in mind that adaptability is key if you want to thrive in the modern workplace. Employers are seeking individuals who can quickly adapt to new situations, learn new tools, and embrace change. Being resistant to change or having difficulty adapting to new circumstances can hamper your chances of growth. Approximately 45% of hiring managers cited individuals being uncompromising as a reason for denying promotions.
  2. Expertise in a highly specialised field: While being an expert in a niche field can be advantageous when it comes to securing specific roles, it may not always translate into broader opportunities for promotion. Employers often look for well-rounded professionals who can adapt to various situations and take on different responsibilities. Therefore, it’s important to develop a diverse skill set that encompasses both technical expertise and general business acumen.
  3. Master of technical skills: Technical skills are undoubtedly crucial in many industries. However, focusing solely on technical proficiency without developing essential soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership can hinder your chances of promotion. Employers seek individuals who can effectively collaborate, lead teams, and engage with clients or stakeholders.
  4. Professionalism: Yes, it’s vital to be professional at work. But you must know where to draw the line too. You need to work on your skills like empathy, self-awareness, and interpersonal communication. Remember, individuals with high EQ are often sought after for leadership roles.
  5. Being a team player: Collaborating and working well with others is crucial in any workplace. However, being solely focused on being a team player may not be enough to secure a promotion. Employers also value individuals who can take initiative, demonstrate leadership potential, and contribute innovative ideas that can drive the company forward. Statistics reveal that around 40% of promotion denials are due to a lack of problem-solving abilities. So, you need to be innovative and take the lead if you want to thrive professionally.
top skills to learn in 2024

Before you submit your request for a promotion or raise, ask a friend or colleague for their opinion and to proofread.  Source: AFP 

How are promotions made?

If the above are the worst skills to justify a promotion or pay rise, what can you do to make your bosses realise that you are the best at your job?

For this, you need to figure out what criteria most companies have in mind when selecting someone for a promotion or pay rise.

There are two broad categories of factors: quantifiable and non-quantifiable.

For the first, they’ll look at your performance in your current role, the impact you have made, and whether you have managed to meet or exceed expectations.

In many companies, this can be tracked by your output and how much money you bring in.

Then, they’ll see if your values match the company’s vision for the year ahead. Are you complaining or offering solutions to a problem that’s been plaguing the company for months?

Are you creating or resolving conflicts in your team? Are you shoving extra tasks to your teammate when things get hectic or stepping up to do more?

If you answered yes to the above, you might just be ready for a promotion or raise.

Sounds like you? Read on to find out what are the top skills to learn in 2024 to make an even stronger case for a promotion or raise for yourself.

top skills to learn in 2024

Big data skills = big value for companies. Source: AFP

10 top skills to learn in 2024 to earn a pay rise or promotion

1. Data Analysis

These days, companies rely a great deal on data-driven decision-making. Data analysis can take you a long way, irrespective of your industry. You should look to master tools like Excel, SQL, and data visualisation that will help you become an invaluable asset to the company.

The best part is that you don’t even have to invest money in learning this skill. There are plenty of free data analysis courses that can help you in this skill development. An excellent example is the Online Data Science Courses at Harvard University. Studies found that of all people who use their time to learn data analysis, nearly 45% of them get a job promotion within two years.

2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

There are plenty of artificial intelligence courses and certificates that you can use for this purpose. These include the likes of Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics by Ansaf Salleb-Aouissi, Cliff Stein, David Blei, Itsik Peer Associate, Mihalis Yannakakis, Peter Orbanz, and a Machine Learning Course by Andrew Ng, among others.

AT&T’s around 100,000 retained employees are the ones who can work with machines and know how to use artificial intelligence to their advantage.

top skills to learn in 2024

Apple is one of the most successful brands today in big part due to their slick marketing. Source: AFP

3. Digital marketing

Companies rely heavily on effective marketing strategies to reach and engage their target audience these days. Developing skills in areas like SEO, social media marketing, and content creation will make you a valuable addition to any marketing team.

For instance, Nike is among the world’s most successful brands that has become nothing short of a global giant, and it’s all due to digital marketing.

Free online courses are offered by PPC University and Localiq’s Marketing Lab.

4. Project management

Being able to effectively plan, execute, and deliver projects within scope, budget, and timeline is an in-demand skill.

In 2019, there were nearly 31, 000 jobs listed on seek.com.au related to project management alone.

While it sounds easy, there are tools that can help you master this skill more effectively. There are free online courses on project management offered by Udemy, FutureLearn, and so on.

top skills to learn in 2024

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines delivers remarks during a fireside chat with Jason Payne (L), the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Federal, during the Billington Cybersecurity Summit at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Centre on September 08, 2023 in Washington, DC. Source: AFP

5. Cybersecurity

With hackers attacking sites every 39 seconds, cybersecurity expertise is highly sought after. Understanding the latest security protocols, implementing preventive measures, and being able to respond to incidents can help you protect your company’s sensitive data.

Beginners can learn about cybersecurity free of cost via online courses Cyber Security Course for Beginners – Level 01 and Introduction to Cyber Attacks.

6. UX/UI Design

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design have gained immense importance in creating seamless digital experiences – with the World Economic Forum calling UX design one of the most sought-after skills by employers.

Developing skills in wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing will make you instrumental in designing intuitive and user-friendly products.

You can learn about UX and UI through Careerfoundry’s Free UX Design Short Course and The Gymnasium’s UX Fundamentals to develop your skills.

top skills to learn in 2024

Helping out a colleague instead of engaging in gossip shows emotional intelligence. Source: AFP

7. Emotional intelligence

In addition to technical skills, employers are increasingly valuing emotional intelligence. This includes skills like empathy, communication, and conflict resolution, which are essential for fostering strong relationships and effective collaboration within teams.

As Amy Bradley, an adjunct professor of management and leadership at Hult International Business School in Massachusetts and author of The Human Moment, said, “Fundamentally, work is about the quality of our relationships.”

There are plenty of free online courses that can help you develop this skill. You can use Free Emotional Intelligence Tutorial – Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace or The Complete Emotional Intelligence Secret Formulas.

8. Agile methodologies

With the rise of agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban, organisations are shifting towards more flexible and iterative approaches to project management.

For example, business solutions provider Loxon Solutions reportedly provided agile management training and coaching to all its employees to enhance collaboration and transparency.

Understanding and applying agile methodologies will demonstrate your adaptability and ability to deliver projects efficiently.

You can use courses like Learn the Truth About Agile versus Waterfall and Agile with Atlassian Jira to find out more.

top skills to learn in 2024

Can you persuade people of various cultures? This is a skill highly valued by companies today. Source: AFP

9. Sales and negotiation

The ability to influence and persuade is highly valued in sales and non-sales roles.

Whether you work in customer service or human resources, being able to secure deals and convince your teammates to achieve a goal will be seen positively by managers.

There are many online sales and negotiations courses that you can pursue online.

10. Cross-cultural competence

In an increasingly globalised world, having cross-cultural competence is vital.

Being able to work effectively with diverse teams, understand different cultural nuances, and adapt your communication style accordingly will make you an asset in international business settings.

You can use courses like Introduction to Cross-Cultural Awareness to learn more about this.