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Discover the skills you actually need when applying for jobs in business, according to employers

Whether you followed in your parents’ footsteps, you fell into a career without realising, or your job route was planned, YouGov data shows one in four (26%) people living in Britain would pick a different career if they had a do-over. But where do you start? What other industries and roles do you already have transferable skills for? And what are the skills you need to obtain before making that jump?

By Editorial Team. Published 19 February 2019. Last updated 19 August 2022.

Take our quiz below to find out your alternative career options and the skills you need to land your dream business role. Just select the role that best fits your current career (or what you’re aspiring to) and our tool will show the closest match from another sector based on your current skillset.

How does it work? We’ve analysed over 700 keywords from the job specifications of 30 common business roles, across three popular job sites (Total Jobs, Indeed and Monster) to reveal exactly what employers are looking for from candidates. We’ve also highlighted skill similarities across different roles and industries to help you to understand your skill gap.

Top 10 skills sought by employers are:

  • Communication skills - (90%)
  • Relationship building - (83%)
  • Organisation skills - (63%)
  • Work well under pressure - (63%)
  • Results driven - (60%)
  • Time management - (57%)
  • Team player - (50%)
  • Analytical skills - (47%)
  • Attention to detail - (47%)
  • People skills - (47%)
  • Self-motivated - (47%)
  • Management skills (43%)
  • leadership skills (43%)
  • IT skills (40%)
  • Negotiating skills (40%)
  • Problem solving (37%)

As well as the most sought-after skills, we’ve also looked into the skills considered less important by employers. While for specialist roles, like those in the legal profession for example, work experience is important, past experience only appeared in 3% of the keywords, suggesting that having the right attitude and good relationships can go a long way towards getting your foot on the career ladder.

The 14 skills that appeared the least in our analysis are:

  • Previous experience in that specific role (3%)
  • Money driven (3%)
  • Understanding of ROI (3%)
  • Knowledge of purchasing environment (3%)
  • Forecasting (3%)
  • Critical thinking (3%)
  • Independent worker (3%)
  • Logical (3%)
  • Adaptable (3%)
  • Economic knowledge (3%)
  • Generating significant financial growth (3%)
  • Multitasker (3%)
  • Strong commercial acumen (3%)
  • Auditing (3%)

For the 26% of working Brits who would consider changing their career if they could, the research also highlighted the skills in common across the 30 roles selected, as well as the skills gap those candidates would have to close if moving from one role to another.

The top 15 jobs from different industries with the highest amount of matching skills are:

  • Advertising Executive and Insurance Broker (81%)
  • Content Strategist/Manager and CFO (57%)
  • Content Strategist/Manager and Stockbroker (55%)
  • Auditor and Project Manager (54%)
  • Accountant and HR Manager (53%)
  • Customer service representative and Investment Banker (50%)
  • Digital Marketing Specialist and Investment Banker (50%)
  • Marketing Manager and CFO (50%)
  • Product Manager and Investment Banker (50%)
  • Social Media Manager and CEO (50%)
  • Digital Marketing Specialist and Stockbroker (45%)
  • Brand Manager and Investment Banker (43%)
  • Investment Banker and HR Manager (40%)
  • Marketing insights Analyst and Accountant (36%)
  • Marketing insights Analyst and Investment Banker (36%)

Looking at specific career skill gaps, we discovered Advertising Executives and Insurance brokers have nine skills in common including communication skills, relationship building and a confident telephone manner. The skill gap between the two roles, however, surprisingly only shows two missing skills. Those wanting to be an Advertising Executive must also be capable of hitting KPIs and providing an optimistic outlook in the workplace.

Similarly, a creative Content Strategist/Manager has eight skills in common with the numerical role of a CFO, giving them a 57% match. These skills include reporting, working well under pressure and strategy development. The six missing skills required to move from content to finances include knowledge of legislative compliance, decision making, forecasting and – naturally – a proficiency with numbers.

For a Digital Marketing Specialist interested in becoming a Stockbroker the gap is greater. While these roles have five skills in common, including attention to detail, project management skills and being results driven, a Stockbroker is also required to show an additional six skills, including being money driven, having knowledge of global financial markets and strong negotiation skills, if they wanted to make the move.

Commenting on the results, Jo Lozinska, Employability Manager at The University of Law Business School, said: “It’s really interesting to see what employers consider to be the most valuable when it comes to the candidates they are interviewing, but what’s particularly prevalent in this research is how many transferable skills people in different industries hold, and how skill gaps aren’t quite as wide as you would think. This is really encouraging when it comes to people entering new careers later on in life and it shows we shouldn’t be scared to make that jump if it’s something we really want.”

*YouGov data set 23/01/2019 of Nat Rep 

*30 business roles used:



Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Managing Director

Strategic consultant



Marketing manager

Content strategist/manager

Product Manager

Brand Manager

Public Relations Manager

Digital Marketing Specialist

Social Media Manager

Advertising Executive

Market Insights Analyst



Supply chain manager

Purchasing manager

Operations manager

Office manager



Customer service representative

Executive Assistant

Account manager

Retail / store manager

Project manager

Human resources manager



Sales representative

Business development manager





Insurance Broker

Investment Banker