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November 1, 2016
Top Skills for Getting Hired in 2016
November 1, 2016
LinkedIn.com recently reported a spike in job applications for October 2016. At the same time, they revealed their Top Skills of 2016, an annual list of skills employers need most. If that weren’t enough, LinkedIn.com broke things down on a global scale and included top skills across 14 countries. I suppose if you’re so inclined, you could consider a relocation to find the ideal fit for your skill set and lifestyle preference. Thanks, but I was only interested in top skills in the U.S. It is LinkedIn.com after all, and I should value their findings which I do, but with a few quibbles and interjections.LinkedIn’s data indicates that demand for marketers in slowing, especially for SEO/SEM which they report as having dropped five spots from#4 to #9 since 2015. As a refresher, these acronyms stand for Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, respectively. The former deals with getting websites and webpages found in the search engines (read, Google) and the latter is managing paid search campaigns (ads), again, read Google (AdWords).This tidbit stung since it’s my core skill set and also how I make the bulk of my income. Demand may be down due to a glut of individuals with these particular skill sets, but based on my observations, not many know what they’re doing. It’s truly that bad out there. SEO is a quasi-technical field that currently doesn’t have any certifications (possible future curriculum at Cybrary.it?). Anyone can claim experience and expertise. In general, digital marketing, which SEO/SEM falls under, is a field that is and will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future. Don’t give up on it just yet despite what LinkedIn says. I’ll cherry pick from the remaining list of skills that I have some familiarity with for the remainder of this discussion.There’s certainly no arguing that Data and the Cloud reign supreme. You only need to have a look at the growing number of training courses on Cybrary.it for Cloud Security certification courses. The age of “something” as a service is upon us and the design and building of such platforms is big business. Not to mention securing cloud infrastructure and the assets that live within it. Cloud security is a bit like playing 3-D chess. It takes plain old network security and spreads it across client premises and hosted platforms. Boundaries tend to get blurred, but security can’t lapse at any juncture. It then stands to reason why Cloud Security experts are in such high demand and command attractive salaries.LinkedIn lumps Data in with Cloud Computing, but it really needs to be examined on its own. They correctly list data mining and statistical analysis as skills employers demand, but it requires being more granular in terms of specific positions in order to get a full accounting of the field. A role that is simply exploding right now is that of Data Scientist.Data Scientists are in demand across a wide range of industries—not just in IT. Their role is to make sense from a myriad of data, most of it unstructured. It’s at the core of business intelligence and plays a vital role in evaluating the effectiveness of marketing strategies. Statistical analysis plays a big part in Data Science. Producing informative pie charts and graphs to assist with data visualization is the typical end product of such analysis. Executives like their data in an easily digestible format and Data Scientists are the ones to provide it to them.Mobile computing is another top skill that isn’t going wanting for qualified applicants. I’m going to also lump software development into this category since mobile app development heavily depends on coding skills. The software development field is often portrayed as being highly-specialized, but this is no longer the case. Employers may be quite particular in requesting extensive training and experience in a particular skill set, but closer examination of job listings tells a different story.Those hiring software developers in 2016 want the whole enchilada. It’s no longer enough to be a super duper Android mobile app developer. Bonus points are awarded if you can also code iOS apps. And lest we forget, mobile apps don’t exist as islands unto themselves. At some point, they need to connect to a backend, often a cloud computing environment. Having the ability to also program the backend along with knowing the technologies for interfacing to them are pretty much a requirement today. The term “full stack developer” gets thrown around quite a bit. It’s definitely a tall order and not for the faint of heart, but mobile developers with these skills are commanding annual salaries of $150k and up.Demand for IT and networking skills remain strong, though the demand is stronger for certain specialized areas such as Cloud Computing as already mentioned. Knowledge of encryption and Computer Forensics and of course Cybersecurity are very much in demand currently. What often gets overlooked in these kinds of lists are the skills beyond the technical ones that often make the difference from landing the job and not getting called back for a second round of interviews.The days of being a socially awkward geek bereft of vital soft skills such as working well with others and understanding the business vertical of your employer are long over. Silos are going the way of COBOL. Applicants with a solid foundation in any one of these top skill sets who is also able to see the bigger picture when it comes to growing their employer’s business are the ones with an inside track to landing a great job and more importantly, holding onto it while growing their career.