Top skills that get hourly workers promoted

Whether you want to get a promotion or move to a different company, you need to know the skills it takes to get there.

In Part II of the LinkedIn research series with Snagajob, we help hourly workers decide which types of employers to apply to and how many applications to submit. In this post we analyze the experience level of jobs in the restaurant and retail industries to better understand growth opportunities. We also highlight the skills you need to get promoted.

Hourly jobs are mostly entry-level, but restaurants have more growth opportunities than retail

We analyzed the level of experience of millions of hourly workers, and discovered that the vast majority of jobs in both the restaurant and retail industries are entry-level. This is great news for people looking to get a job without any experience.

Entry Level Growth

We also found that the restaurant industry has a greater proportion of managerial roles. This makes sense considering 90% of restaurants have fewer than 50 employees. Lots of small shops means less middle management and thus a greater proportion of opportunities at the bottom and top. In contrast, there are fewer managerial, but more entry- and mid-level opportunities, in the retail industry (think Walmart).

So if you're a recent graduate hoping to move up the ranks, restaurants may be the way to go because of the relatively high number of growth opportunities. But if you're looking to pick up hours at a second job, retail may be a better bet because there's a greater share of entry-level positions.

A well-rounded skillset is key to becoming a manager

To better understand the skills you need to advance in your job, we identified the skills that are more common among managers than entry-level employees.

While each industry requires some level of specialization to advance to management, there are some general skills that lead to success independent of industry. As you can see, we discovered that talent acquisition and talent management skills are the most universally valuable:

Skills for Promotion

These skills are especially important if we consider how technological innovation impacts work. While we can't predict exactly how technology will redefine certain roles, we do know it's easier to automate physical tasks like bagging groceries than it is to automate social and emotional ones like negotiating with a candidate. So developing your people-related skills is important not just to get ahead now, but also because those skills will likely still be valued in the future.

When we drilled down on the most common skills among managers in restaurants and retail, we found that finance, management, and new store skills are key to both too. What's different is that cuisine and event skills are more valued in restaurants while merchandise and inventory skills are more valued in retail.

Below is the set of skills you need to advance in both industries. The sample question in each category gives you a sense of what managers know how to answer.

Restaurant Promotions

Retail Promotions

Whether you're searching for your next job or looking for a promotion, knowing the skills that your industry rewards the most can help boost your own development. For the skills you already have, stand out from the pack and let employers know by adding them to your LinkedIn profile or your Snagajob profile. For the key skills you don't have, make a plan to acquire them. Consider asking your manager for opportunities to grow in specific areas and/or exploring Linkedin Learning for relevant courses.


Up next — Top career paths beyond hourly work

Learning skills on the job is one way to advance. Going back to school is another. Stay tuned for our next post when we reveal what hourly workers study when they seek higher education and the most common jobs they take once they have their degrees.

This is Part III in our four-part series on hourly workers. Check out Part I Creating Economic Opportunity for Hourly Workers and Part II 3 Factors to Consider When Applying to Hourly Jobs.


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