Whether you have just graduated or are in the middle or end of your career, you face a booming labor market, with two vacancies for every unemployed person. Hiring managers and recruiters everywhere continue their hunt for positions.
So, what skills would help you progress the most?
The short answer is greater mastery of the digital world coupled with old-school communication skills, according to two new reports.
The pandemic, by boosting remote work, has further valued technological skills. As a result, the ability to communicate in a zoom meeting or in a graphic design has become essential. The same goes for skills in social media posting, data visualization, and using tools like Google Analyticsto measure the return of online advertising, and Salesforce to track customers.
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“Every job will require new skills,” said Matt Sigelman of Bryn Mawr, who leads Burning Glass Institutean independent research center co-author of the Shifting Skills, Moving Targets, and Workforce Redesign relationship with Boston Consulting Group and market data firm Emsi Burning Glass.
Employees will now need lifelong learning, Sigelman said. “The 160 million workers in America’s workforce today are going to need a mechanism to learn skills on the fly.”
The good news is that many courses are free, inexpensive, and widely available. See suggestions below.
Employers were already looking for digital skills in their hires before 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working has accelerated the need. Workers need to learn these skills, not just to find a job, but to avoid becoming obsolete in their current roles.
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The Skills Report looked at 15 million job postings from 2016 to 2021 to see what new skills were in demand and how jobs were changing, with new skills appearing and others disappearing.
“Jobs are more disrupted today than ever before,” the report concludes, and the changes go far beyond technology areas.
“Social media is a good example of a skill that is becoming increasingly important in many professions,” the report says.
Another in-demand skill is data visualization, now needed by recruiters, tax professionals, and benefits managers.
Workers need more digital skills, even in non-technical areas like marketing, public relations, human resources and sales.
An administrator will need to create posts on Facebook while sales agents in insurance and financial services must be proficient in customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce.
And a marketing associate needs digital marketing skills as well as the ability to use programs like Adobe Creative Cloud for graphic design.
Techies aren’t spared from the disruptions. Indeed, they are at the center of it all and need soft skills like the ability to communicate, collaborate and solve problems, as the job postings show.
Job sectors that are changing faster than others include finance, media design, business management and operations, human resources, and information technology.
According to the report, the skills most disrupted are those of data engineers, industrial organizational psychologists, chief information officers and chief information officers. Hiring managers and technical writers come next.
If you’re a cook, musician, or mystery shopper, don’t worry. These roles have the least disrupted skill sets.
Sigelman says frontline workers need to think about building their skills as if they were “first-stage managers,” focusing on written communication, collaboration, customer service, planning and project management to progress.
Another tip: Nurses, IT roles and construction jobs all need project management skills, Sigelman said, calling this training a “powerful key to greater mobility.”
Community colleges remain a solid choice for career training, he added, citing their accessibility, clear mission and low cost.
In its Class of 2022 Graduate Labor Market Prospects StudyZipRecruiter agrees with much of this analysis, saying that with so many jobs and a shortage of workers, employers are expanding recruiting networks, reducing requirements, and investing more in on-the-job training.
Signing bonuses, once given to just 4% of American workers, have now become ubiquitous while many other jobs offer student loan repayment.
ZipRecruiter says communication was the most in-demand skill in its job postings. Time management, analytical thinking, and project management were other big ones. State-of-the-art technology skills: comfort with CRM software, recruitment and software development, according to the study.
And unsurprisingly, most job seekers of all age groups prefer remote work.
Above all, if you “realize you missed a class you should have taken in college, don’t despair.” said Renata Dionello, chief human resources officer of ZipRecruiter, in a statement. “Find an inexpensive, engaging, self-paced online course and complete it. Or watch a series of YouTube tutorials. Then put it on your resume. Employers like self-starters who aren’t afraid to ‘to learn new things.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free traditional and non-traditional ways to learn skills, from volunteering on a nonprofit board to taking a LinkedIn course or signing up for Google training.
A great source of free training comes from states that offer manpower training programs through local boards.
In Pennsylvania, there are 22 local workforce development councils offering free classes. As part of the SkillUp PA program, you can take courses in Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, and computer science, and earn industry-recognized credentials for cybersecurity, project management, HR, and more.
You can also find job vacancies under the PA Career link. A digital marketing search found 695 jobs in Philadelphia in the last 30 days with companies including Deloitte, Comcast, PWC, VMware and Microsoft.
New Jersey runs 17 Workforce Development Tips, and counties also offer the SkillUp training program. You can also find apprenticeships, get tips on resume writing and LinkedIn profile, or if you’re over 55, you can find help re-entering the workforce.
LinkedIn Apprenticeship certificates are not accredited, but can tell hiring managers that you want to learn. By signing up at LinkedIn.com, you can start with one month free and then pay $39.99 per month.
Offerings include Social Media Course for Graphic Designers: 6 hrs 18 mins; Inclusive and accessible product design: 60 minutes; and Developing an integrated online marketing plan: 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Google also offers a variety of training courses, including a handful in Spanish, as well as free virtual workshops on coding and other skills.
You can also continue Google IT certificates through Coursera, a global online learning platform: some are free, some cost $39, and some financial aid is available.
Job seekers and workers can pay for a variety of courses, such as those offered at community colleges, including Camden County Community College Program for Certified Green Supply Chain Professional through the ed2go.com Platform:
Computing Technology Industry Association, aka CompTIAoffers paid certificate programs in everything from cybersecurity to cloud and web3.
Sales teams can also pay for courses at Courserathe online course provider.
Yet another option is 2U.comwho offers improvement bootcamps through partners such as Columbia University, Arcadia University, Rutgers, and University of Pennsylvania, among others. Based in Maryland, 2U is a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform that provides schools with intensive, high-end certification courses, for online degree and non-degree programs.
Columbia University offers through 2U.com 18 weeks part-time Digital Marketing Bootcamp for $8,495. The program is completely virtual, 9 hours of lessons over 3 evenings per week plus approximately 6 hours of additional work per week, learning the fundamentals of marketing, strategy, how to run campaigns, paid and organic social media on social channels, including TikTok and SEO.
Are paid courses more valuable than free courses? It’s hard to quantify. ZipRecruiter labor economist Julia Pollak said completion of community college courses is mentioned in just over 100,000 job postings, LinkedIn certifications in 31,661, CompTIA certifications in 12,494 and 2U.com course in 32. But that doesn’t necessarily mean one is more valuable than the other, she said.
The good news is that there are over 33% more jobs for the Class of 2022 than there were for the Class of 2021, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers,
In the best job market for 40 years, skills-based hiring has increased, expanding the talent pool at a crucial time, allowing candidates without a college degree to compete for jobs.
But everyone needs training. “Right-brained people now need left-brained skills. Left-brained people – technical jobs – need to have business skills and other foundational skills in order to connect their discoveries to solving key business problems. , Sigelman said, “For workers, you can’t rely on your experience alone to keep you safe.”
Christine M. Johnson-Hall is a former Inquirer correspondent who worked for Today’s Spirit newspaper, United Press International, Morning Call newspaper and Vanguard Group before retiring after 22 years in 2020 to start CJH Communications.
The Future of Work is produced with support from the William Penn Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Editorial content is created independently of project donors.