The job market is always evolving, and as some occupations lose popularity, others gain an edge. But remember: Regardless of the field you’re in, having certain career skills can make a difference in your success. Knowing which qualities are most in-demand can be helpful as you carve out your career path.
The Job and Skills Trends
Through 2024, healthcare-related occupations, including home health aides, registered nurses and nursing assistants, will see a boom in job growth and median annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections. Education, professional services and finance are also expected to see positive growth. (See Top 10 Fastest Growing Industries in the United States.)
Many of the highest-paying jobs are positions that require a significant amount of education, professional training, and advanced skills. The list of the best-paying jobs for 2018 includes familiar standbys like physicians, patent attorneys, and pharmacists, as well as tech-focused jobs like software engineering managers, software architects, and data architects, all of which have a median base salary of $100,000 or more, according to Glassdoor.
So which career skills will improve your chances of success in these fields?
Tech Skills Are Highly Valued Across Multiple Industries
Tech skills are a hot commodity among employees, but their application isn’t limited to the tech industry. A number of career paths are suited to tech-savvy workers, including finance, healthcare, marketing, and human resources. Possessing a technical skill set can lead to higher-paying positions.
A joint analysis by MONEY and PayScale zeroed in on the tech skills that employers seek most often across more than 350 industries. The most prized tech skills currently include:
- big data capabilities, including data mining and modeling
- software management and development
- Cloud skills
- mobile development
Research from ITCareerFinder suggests that these tech skills are equally important to have in 2018:
- technical support skills
- Web development
- database administration
- project management
While these skills are relevant to roles like tech management, systems architects and security engineers, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For example, data analytics is gaining new importance in healthcare as more healthcare providers move to digital recordkeeping. Software programmers and developers are also needed to create the software programs used to manage patient data and healthcare records.
Tech is also reshaping the finance industry, with demand rising for project managers, software operations specialists, application developers, and business intelligence specialists. Data analysis and software skills are also essential in fields that don’t fit the tech mold, such as human resources. According to research from Deloitte, more than a third of companies are actively focused on building data analysis teams within their HR departments. HR data specialists use their tech know-how to analyze data and pinpoint trends within the hiring process and the broader workforce. (See Top 10 Best Tech Jobs.)
Soft Skills Still Carry Weight With Employers
While technical skills are important, employers don’t have tunnel vision when considering which workers to hire. Soft skills, which are often influenced more by personality than education or training, are still a priority in the workforce.
In a 2016 LinkedIn survey, soft skills topped the list of what employers looked for most often among prospective hires. These include:
- critical thinking
According to Monster.com, oral and written communication skills are the most important soft skills to possess. Other soft skills:
- marketing savvy
- attention to detail
The industries likely to place the highest value on these soft skills encompassed hospitality, customer service, professional training and coaching, retail and sports. That doesn’t mean that all soft skills hold the same value for employers, however. The LinkedIn survey found that the soft skills least likely to be in demand included business planning, cross-functional team leadership, emotional intelligence, and team-building.
Hybrid Skill Sets Most Prized
Research from Bentley University suggests that workers could benefit from developing a hybrid skill set that includes both tech skills and soft skills to keep pace with the changing job market. For example, according to Bentley’s data, employees may be better served by merging mathematical and analytical abilities with process improvement and sales abilities. This skill set could then be used as a springboard to a career in tech, human resources, marketing, sales or even public relations. Think social media managers and consultants or digital marketing specialists.
The Bottom Line
Developing both your hard and soft skills is important for making yourself as attractive to potential employers as possible. It’s almost a certainty that tech skills will continue to be highly sought after but being able to communicate effectively, being mindful of details and staying organized aren’t likely to go out of style any time soon. The key to getting ahead is finding the right balance and targeting the skills that are most valued in your chosen field.