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What you can take from online analysis and forecasts

In our information-rich times, it is not difficult to come across different analyses and forecasts listing which professional skills are, or will be, wanted in the job market. This article suggests what someone like you can take from them, illustrating it with two particular examples of skills-demand analysis: one by LinkedIn and one by Institute for the Future.



The 25 hottest skills according to LinkedIn Analysis



About the analysis


“Who’s getting hired and what are they doing?”, asked the LinkedIn team, and they then used data provided by their members in order to find out. In particular, they had a close look at all the hiring and recruiting activity that happened on LinkedIn in 2014, and they identified the skills categories of those members who were more likely to start new jobs and receive interest from recruiters.

The final output contains global results, as well as specific ones for some selected countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.



Considerations for reading the findings


LinkedIn has analyzed over 330 million LinkedIn member profiles. While that is indeed an impressive amount of data, it is only from their own site, which means it refers to job seekers who had access to LinkedIn and chose it for publishing their profiles and job status information, or to recruiters who chose LinkedIn to seek professionals. However, the access and tendency of job seekers and recruiters to use LinkedIn vary not only between countries and cultures, but also between professional fields. For some job areas, LinkedIn is the main tool for professional networking or even recruitment. For other professional fields, much less so – and thus you might not find the related skills on the list, no matter how valued they are.

The list contains skills without distinguishing between hard skills (those bound to a specific professional field) and soft skills (transferrable between different professional fields), but most of the result skills are hard skills.



Findings by LinkedIn:


The 25 Hotttest Skills of 2014 on LinkedIn (Global)


  1. Statistical analysis and data mining
  2. Middleware and integration software
  3. Storage systems and management
  4. Network and information security
  5. SEO/ SEM marketing
  6. Business intelligence
  7. Mobile development
  8. Web architecture and development framework
  9. Algorithm design
  10. Perl/ Python/ Ruby
  11. Data engineering and data warehousing
  12. Marketing campaign management
  13. Mac, Linux and Unix systems
  14. User interface design
  15. Recruiting
  16. Digital and online marketing
  17. Computer graphics and animation
  18. Economics
  19. Java development
  20. Channel marketing
  21. SAP ERP systems
  22. Integrated Circuit (IC) design
  23. Shell scripting languages
  24. Game development
  25. Virtualization


For more details and country-specific results check the original report here.



What you can take from it:


  • Check whether LinkedIn might be an important channel for you when seeking a job:


If your target job requests skills that are among the hot 25 on the LinkedIn list, LinkedIn might be a tool that is worth your close attention! Make sure your online profile is of excellent quality and always up to date if you are open to new job opportunities. Check your LinkedIn messages regularly in order not to miss out on them.

If your target job area is not among the LinkedIn top ones, you can still use LinkedIn for job-seeking purposes, but do not rely on it too much: try other channels too, such as networking in person, seeking support from somebody senior in your desired field, or trying to get some practical experience that will bring you into closer contact with potential employers. Networking in person seems to work in all professional areas, LinkedIn less so.


  • Recognize your professional value.


If you are competent in several of the top 25 areas, then this is your time of being highly wanted in the market, and thus you are in a position to be picky and to negotiate for good working conditions – in your current job or a new one.


  • Use the information to develop your career-change strategy.


If you would like to make a career change, and one of the listed 25 areas is your new career target, then this might be the optimal time for the change, so grab your chance. A high demand often means a skill shortage, and thus people with less previous experience might get an opportunity now.

If you are making a career change from one of the listed fields but into something not listed here, you can still consider exploiting the fact that you have the highly wanted skills. One way of doing so could be to make the career change in two easier steps instead of one challenging step. That means, think of a creative combination of your old competences (those that are currently in demand) and a new targeted field and employers (those you would like to work for in the new field). Sometimes, such a step in between can be the bridge that brings you smoothly from where you were to a new desired environment, although not immediately to the type of job you would like in the future. Once you have work experience in the desired environment, applying for a desired job will be a smaller (and thus easier) career change.




Future Work Skills 2020 as forcasted by  Institute for the Future



About the forecast:


This report first analyzed key drivers that would reshape the landscape of work, and based on those, it identified key work skills that might be needed by 2020.

The authors say about their methodology (quoted from the report): “...we brought together experts in a diverse range of disciplines and professional backgrounds, engaging them in brainstorming exercises to identify key drivers of change and how these will shape work skill requirements. Finally, we analyzed and filtered all of this data in order to identify the six key drivers and ten skills areas that will be most relevant to the workforce of the future.”



Considerations for reading the forecast:


The forecast was made for 2020 but published in 2011, so while still very up-to-date, it is no longer new. We are almost half way through the decade and, as you will see from the list, we are already living with the trends.

The focus of the analysis is on the skills that will be used across a wide range of jobs, which means soft skills.



Forecast by Institute for the Future


The six key drivers are described as: extreme longevity, rise of smart machines and systems, computational world, new media ecology, superstructured organizations, and globally connected world. You can learn more about the trends in the report, here.

Based on the key drivers and their combinations, the following ten skills have been predicted to be the most important by around 2020:


  1. Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.



What you can take from it:



  • Form your own opinion.


What do you think about the accuracy of the forecasted trends? Which of the skills are, in your opinion, useful already?


  • Self-assess which of the skills you have.


Include them in your general professional profiles.


  • Brush up your CV and job application.


When you are writing a CV customized for a particular job position, mention those of your skills that are relevant to the job.


  • Take the inspiration and build your own prediction.


Why not make it useful and fun? Use your own knowledge and overview, and put together a list of trends specific in your current or desired professional area.

What kind of skills would serve the trends and their combinations?

Where do you stand? What could you add to your professional profiles, CVs or your personal development plan?

  Share your experience and ask your questions about the topic.

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