Table of Contents
- What are technology skills?
- Top tech skills employers look for
- How to improve tech skills?
- How to highlight tech skills during the job search
- Prioritizing your mental health while learning a new skill
Our world revolves around technology- from shaping our daily activities to transforming the ways businesses operate. Whether it’s healthcare, finance, marketing, or manufacturing, technology has made inroads in virtually every industry. Thus, employers are constantly looking for professionals with solid technical competencies, who can navigate the ever-evolving business landscape and help organizations stay at the top of their game.
According to an AWS Global Digital Skills Study, employees with tech skills earn 49% more than those who don’t use these skills in their jobs. In this blog, we’ll explore the top IT skills employers look for in a job candidate, and how you improve them. So let’s get started!
What are technology skills?
Technology skills, also referred to as tech or IT (Information Technology) skills encompass the specialized knowledge and expertise needed to interact with and use computer-based systems. These skills are typically categorized as ‘hard skills‘ as they are learned through formal education, training, or on-the-job experience.
These days, almost all jobs require you to possess tech skills in some capacity. Whether it’s managing basic digital entries, working with databases, or coding software, IT competencies have become integral to various job roles across industries. Thus, being tech-savvy is not just an advantage but rather a necessity to thrive in today’s business world.
Top tech skills employers look for
Since IT skills encompass a broad range of competencies, simply stating that you possess “excellent IT skills” in your resume is not good enough. You need to be specific about your skills to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have the specialized knowledge and experience for the role, and can contribute to the organization effectively.
It’s important to align your skill set to the requirements of the position to place yourself as a strong candidate. In this section, we’ll explore the most sought-after tech skills employers look for, and their scope. Here is the list:
- Software Development
- Cloud Computing
- UI/UX Design
- Data Literacy
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
- Digital Marketing
- Project Management
Cybersecurity involves protecting systems, networks, and programs from attacks. Cyberattacks are usually intended to access, change, or destroy critical systems & sensitive information, extort money from the user, or interrupt the business process. Security measures are foundational to IT systems and networks. Hence, the cybersecurity market has been on the rise. The cybersecurity market is projected to grow from $165.78 billion in 2021 to $366.10 billion by 2028, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% during the period.
The growth is mainly driven by the rise in e-commerce platforms and the advent of core technologies such as AI, cloud computing, or the Internet of Things (IoT). Market leaders are always looking for AI-supported cybersecurity experts. The skills required to be a cybersecurity expert are:
- Data encryption
- Installing firewalls and routers
- Risk mitigation strategy and threat analysis
- Ethical hacking and penetration testing
- Familiarity with physical network and software security
- Knowledge of compliance regulations and standards like PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and CCPA
Popular cybersecurity jobs include cybersecurity engineer, malware analyst, penetration tester, and security architect. The average salary of a Cyber Security Specialist in the United States is $80,000+ per annum. There are many online courses on Coursera and Udemy to get you started.
Blockchain is an unchanging, public register that records transactions and exchanges of an asset in a network. It has found its application as a ledger for cryptocurrencies, but it can store transactions or exchanges of any tangible (money) or intangible (patents) asset. Its applications involve any closed or open network, where transparency and traceability are required to track a multi-step exchange of things.
The blockchain market is projected to increase from $4.68 bn in 2021 to $104.19 bn in 2028. Blockchain is a growing field and one of the top skills to learn in 2022. As countries look to regulate cryptocurrencies and rise in non-fungible token (NFT) investments, the blockchain market will rise for some time. If you are interested in learning blockchain, Columbia University recommends learning the following skills:
- Data Structure
- Smart Contracts
Popular blockchain roles include blockchain developer, blockchain project manager, blockchain solution architect, and Blockchain UX designer. The average pay for these roles ranges from $110,000 to $200,000 per annum. In the United States, the average base salary for a blockchain developer is $130,000+ per annum. Harvard Technology and Entrepreneurship Center recommend some free courses to learn blockchain skills that you can find here.
3) Software Development
According to a LinkedIn report, digital fluency is one of the two top skills for the future of work. It reflects an individual’s technological skills to effectively operate in an increasingly digital workplace, involving everything from MS Office to advanced artificial intelligence. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations have been forced to migrate to remote working and develop or revamp their digital infrastructure. This has led to an increase in Software Development jobs, especially the following:
Software Development is one of the most fundamental and widespread tech skills. It extends beyond coding, to encompass a holistic process, governing the design, implementation, testing, and maintenance of software systems. It’s a comprehensive process that involves multiple stages, starting with understanding the problem and narrowing down the specific problem statement. The second stage is designing the solution and writing the code that would instruct a computer to perform specific tasks based on received inputs. Finally, there’s testing, deployment, and maintenance, which is about getting the software onto devices and making sure it works as intended, in the real world. Software developers are often divided into teams of:
- Product Managers
- UI/UX Designers
An emerging trend in the industry is hyper-automation. It is a process through which organizations automate complex business processes and operations using AI, low-code application platforms (LCAP), robotic process automation (RPA), and virtual assistants. These technologies are process-agnostic software, making them useful in multiple IT & business-use cases in any industry. Several online courses and products are available on RPA, LCAP, and AI to learn more about hyper-automation.
According to a report by Gartner Inc., the market for hyper-automation technologies will reach $600 billion in evaluation by 2022. Technology specialists and automation test specialists are the top 2 of 10 in-demand jobs on LinkedIn. The average salary for an ML engineer in the USA is $131,000 and for an RPA developer is $100,000. Popular job titles in RPA & AI include:
- RPS Architect
- RPA Developer
- RPA Analyst
- AI Engineer
- ML Engineer
- Intelligence Designer
- Digital Knowledge Manager
4) Cloud Computing
Cloud computing involves delivering services in an on-demand access model through the internet. These computing services include servers, storage, software, database, analytics, networking, and intelligence hosted at a remote data center managed by cloud service providers (CSP). Organizations employ cloud services as they benefit them by operating at lower costs, running infrastructure more efficiently, and scaling their digital infrastructure as per business needs. There are four types of services in cloud computing:
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Serverless Computing
The global cloud computing market is valued at $736.3 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% over the forecast period. This rise in the market will accompany a steady increase in cloud computing jobs. In addition, the increase in remote work has led to a rise in remote computing requirements. This has increased the demand for cloud computing experts.
Amazon web services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM are CSP leaders. You can check their respective websites to start learning cloud computing with free training or certification courses. The average salary for job roles in cloud computing in the United States is $81,394 per annum. Some common cloud computing specialist roles are:
- Cloud Engineer
- Cloud Architect
- Cloud Consultant
- DevOps Cloud Engineer
- Cloud Infrastructure Engineer
- Cloud Security Engineer
- Cloud System Administrator
- UI Designer
5) UI/UX Design
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are two different fields but are often referred to as one. Don Norman is credited with coining the term user experience first. According to them, “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users’ interaction with a company, such as its services and products. The user interface is where the interaction between humans and machines occurs.” As their definition suggests, UI/UX designers can be employed in any domain where usability and end-user experience are vital.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth of 13% or 25,500 in digital designer jobs. Skills that employers will be looking for in UI/UX designers:
- Prototyping, Wireframing, User flows, Mockups
- Visual Design and Design Software
- User Research and Usability Testing
- Information Architecture
- Application Development
- Visual Hierarchy
- Color Theory
- A/B testing
Some resources you can use to learn UI/UX design from top UX design certification programs are Google UX design professional certificate, Nielsen Norman Group UX certification program, or Springboard UX certification program. Popular job titles for UI/UX designers are:
- UX Designer
- UX Unicorn (yes, it’s real!)
- Product Designer
- Content Strategist
- UX Researcher
- Visual Designer
The average salary range for UI/UX is $70,000+ per annum in the States.
6) Data Analysis and Data Science
Advancements in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) sparked a global demand for data. AI goes through millions of data entries to understand and provide solutions, driving the increasing reliance on hyper-automation in businesses. Also, as companies scale, they start accumulating an enormous amount of data from myriad sources, such as customers, suppliers, and internal systems. This data, which could range from purchase history and feedback to complaints and trending patterns, is a goldmine of insights, pivotal for business decision-making. Companies have created in-house teams of business analysts, and business school graduates are expected to have superlative data analysis skills.
A study found that 93% of business leaders believe that data literacy is vital for their company. However, only 24% of the global workforce considers themselves competent in understanding, analyzing, and reporting data. According to HBR, organizations currently suffer from a lack of data-driven problem-solving skills.
More specifically, employees lack the skills to:
- Ask the right questions
- Understand which data is relevant and how to test the validity of the available data
- Interpret the data well, so the results are valuable and meaningful
- Test hypotheses using A/B tests to see what results pan out
- Create easy-to-understand visualizations so leaders understand the results
- Tell a story to help decision-makers see the big picture and act on the results of the analysis
While data analysis allows businesses to forecast inventory needs and market trends based on historical data, providing a macro-level view for strategic planning. On the other hand, data science enables a deep dive into specific line items, enabling micro-level insights to optimize operations, boost profitability, and enhance customer experience.
Check out the data courses offered by Johns Hopkins University faculty on Coursera to start your learning journey. The average salary for a data scientist in the USA is $124,000 and can go up to $250,000 depending upon company and experience. Some popular job titles for data science jobs are:
- Data Scientist
- Data Engineer
- Data Analyst
- Data Architect
- Business Intelligence Developer
- Data Storyteller
- Data Administrator
7) Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented reality involves some digital elements in a live view of physical reality. Virtual reality implies a complete immersion into a virtual digital reality shut off from the physical world. There are two further points of differentiation, mixed and extended reality. Mixed reality (MR) combines elements of both AR and VR. Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the notable MR apparatuses. Extended Reality, also referred to as XR, is an umbrella term for technologies that enhance our senses, providing additional information about physical reality or creating simulated experiences from a virtual world.
Experts predict that by 2030, a significant number of people will be engaged in the metaverse, which is a shared virtual space in which users can interact with other users and a computer-generated environment. Meta, formerly Facebook, will be investing $10 billion in VR and XR technologies and plans to hire 10,000 people for their European operations. Market research predicts AR and VR will rise to $766 billion by the end of 2025. If you are interested in learning about AR and VR technologies, visit edX for free courses from faculties of the University of California, University of San Diego, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Job titles for people working in AR, VR MR, and XR include VR/AR Developer, Design Architect, 3D Artist, and Software Designer. The average salary for an AR/VR developer in the USA is over $93,000 per annum. As the industry expands with investments from tech giants, wages are expected to rise exponentially.
In today’s modern world, using technology to assist us in accomplishing tasks is an easy way to get more done efficiently and quickly. As a result, programming is no longer a niche skill for tech-centric roles. It has become a fundamental toolset for many professionals in the digital world. Its applications range beyond software development, to automation, problem-solving, and even communication.
Think of programming as a language that enables you to instruct computers. It equips you with the necessary capabilities to code applications, conceive complex algorithms, solve intricate problems, and communicate in a language that a computer would understand. According to a 2023 LinkedIn study, some of the most in-demand programming languages are:
Programming cultivates computational thinking, an invaluable skill that entails breaking down complicated issues into bite-sized tasks. It helps visualize abstract notions and enables more informed and data-driven decision-making. Each of these skills is fundamental in today’s fast-paced world.
Moreover, learning programming can provide solutions for automating repetitive or challenging tasks, thus enabling professionals to boost productivity. For example, marketers can automate repetitive tasks or leverage programming for data analysis. Product Managers and UX Designers can communicate more effectively with coders when they have a grasp of the underlying code structure.
To get ahead of one’s peers or make the most of the tools at your disposal, programming emerges as a crucial asset irrespective of one’s role. As programming becomes more ubiquitous, it’s become less about pursuing a career in software development and more about enhancing your existing roles. R Programming A-Z: R For Data Science With Real Exercises and FullStack Academy Live Online Coding Bootcamp are some highly-rated programming courses you could check out.
9) Digital Marketing
With the world spending more time online than ever before, digital marketing has emerged as a key area of investment for organizations. Digital marketing promotes products and services through the internet using smartphones, computers, and tablets. We are transitioning into the phase of online consumerism. Millions of people purchase products and services from the comfort of their homes, so businesses are in a race to ensure they are digitally visible and accessible. Employers are seeking candidates with the following digital marketing skills:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Data-Driven Marketing
- E-Commerce Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Optimization
- Display Ads
- Email Marketing
According to a report by grand research view, the digital marketing software market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.2%, from $56.52 billion in 2021 to $182.21 billion in 2028. As a result, employers are keen on hiring quality talent for the coming surge in the digital marketing landscape. In a recent report from LinkedIn, the number of digital marketing jobs has increased by 63% in the first six months of 2021. The salary for digital marketing jobs ranges from $60,000 to $180,000 per annum. Some of the popular job titles include:
- Digital Strategist
- Digital Marketing Manager
- Pay-Per-Click Manager
- SEM Manager
- Paid Search Manager
- SEM Specialist
- SEO Specialist
- SEO Manager
- Web Marketing Specialist
10) Project Management
Project Management is increasingly establishing itself as a pivotal competency in the professional world. Companies will need to fill 2.3 million new project-oriented positions each year through 2030. Today project management is considered indispensable not only for dedicated project managers but also for professionals across diverse fields.
In the modern, fast-paced world, enhanced by the ease of conducting business and growing globalization, competition is intensifying like never before. Today, every manager is expected to wear the hat of a Project Manager, tracking tasks assigned to their teams and delivering as per agreed quality standards and timelines. Companies are operating on exceedingly thin margins of error, relentlessly pursuing efficiency enhancements. Effective project management is key to converting creative ideas from just visions to tangible results.
As the well-known management idea used across Fishbone (Ishikawa) diagrams and Six Sigma methodologies says, “An organization must ensure careful and timebound orchestration of Men, Machinery, Money, Material, and Method to achieve its objectives”. Companies regularly eschew highly creative projects that may be difficult to manage. A proficient project manager aids organizations in navigating this complex matrix of modern business operations, thereby reducing wastage, accelerating delivery, and maximizing value. Their contribution becomes particularly crucial when maneuvering large-scale projects, where the scope of work can quickly become overwhelming without proper oversight.
Project Managers are required across fields such as Tech, Consulting, Cinema, Infrastructure, Healthcare, and Marketing, among many others. The median salary of a project management professional in the United States is $78,119. To prepare for the demanding world of project management, professionals can consider certification programs such as PMP (Project Management Professional) or CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management). Some of the most popular project management job roles include:
- Project Manager
- Program Manager
- Scrum Master
- Implementation Manager
- Change Manager
DevOps is a set of practices, cultural philosophies, and tools that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (ops), increasing an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services promptly. Under the DevOps model, the development and operations teams work together. For example, the same engineering team works across the entire application lifecycle, from planning to development to deployment to testing. If security is a project’s priority, security teams are also involved in the model, referred to as DevSecOps.
Employers look for the following skills in a DevOps engineer:
- Understanding of relevant tools & platforms
- Automation Skills
- Cloud Computing
- Coding and Scripting
- Product Testing
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, DevOps engineer jobs are expected to rise by 22% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than other professions. This rise comes with the sudden migration to remote and hybrid working models in response to the pandemic. If you are interested in becoming a certified DevOps engineer, you can get certifications from Amazon and Microsoft to boost your resume. The average salary for a DevOps engineer in the USA is $105,200 and can go up to $200,000 depending upon the company and years of experience. Job roles in a DevOps team include:
- DevOps Architect
- DevOps Manager
- Product Owner
- DevOps Software Developer
- Build Engineer
- DevOps System Admin
- Security Engineer
- DevOps Evangelist
How to improve tech skills?
The world of technology is ever-evolving. To stay competitive in the job market, it’s important to assess your skill set and upgrade them regularly. Here are some tips on how you could improve your tech skills:
1) Undertake online courses
On the internet, you’ll find many paid and unpaid video courses, tutorials, and certifications, from basic computer literacy to advanced technical topics like machine learning. Whether you’re a beginner who’s just starting out or a seasoned professional keen to stay abreast with emerging trends, there’s likely a course that meets your needs. Always remember to check out the ratings and reviews first to ensure the quality of the content. Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy are some of the most popular websites offering a wide array of technical courses.
2) Interact with industry professionals
Interacting with professionals with similar interests and knowledge is a great way to learn new things and improve your skills. Seek out networking opportunities with individuals who share your expertise and interests. This could be at your university, workplace, or even virtual forums on the internet. Such events could be a great opportunity for you to ask questions, engage in meaningful discussions, and share your insights. Also, sharing your coding projects on platforms like GitHub can be a great way to receive constructive feedback from tech experts.
3) Pursue formal education
If you’re looking to make a career change or seeking accreditation to boost your career prospects, taking up formal education at a university can be a great idea. This will enable you to develop a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and become an expert. Top universities across the world offer specialized degrees and certifications in various tech fields.
4) Apply your skills
Remember the saying “Practice makes perfect”? The same applies to tech skills, the more you put them to use, the better you get. Seek out challenging opportunities at your university or workplace that enable you to apply and improve your tech competencies. Learnings from these experiences can help you grow your expertise and knowledge. Even undertaking personal projects, like building a website or an application, can provide invaluable hands-on training.
How to highlight tech skills during the job search
Fostering the right skill set is one step closer to your dream job. But, to bag the role, you must also be able to effectively demonstrate your skills to the hiring manager. In this section, we’ll explore different ways in which you can highlight during the job search process:
1) Highlighting tech skills on the resume
Before you start writing your resume, analyze the job description to identify the key technical skills that the employer is looking for in the candidate. Remember to prioritize these skills on your resume. You could highlight your tech skills in several sections of your resume:
- Professional Summary: Emphasizing relevant tech skills in the professional summary section is a great way to capture the hiring manager’s interest from the start. Craft succinct and impactful sentences to showcase your technical competencies and achievements. For example, you could write, “Seasoned digital marketeer with 5+ years of experience, specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
- Key Skills section: The key skills section is one of the best places on your resume to showcase your technical abilities. We suggest including a mix of 9-10 soft and hard skills in this section. For example, you could list hard skills like “Java programming”, “Database management”, and “UI Design”, along with soft skills like “teamwork”, “leadership” and “critical thinking”.
- Work experience: In the work experience section, you can showcase to your hiring manager how you’ve put your tech knowledge into action. We recommend starting each bullet point with an action verb, then describing your responsibilities, duties, and areas where you utilized your tech expertise. Remember to also mention the results you achieved.
Here is an example of a bullet point emphasizing the candidate’s expertise in software testing, project management, and agile methodologies:
“Managed and coordinated SDLC for MVP and Beta releases; utilized agile methodologies to effectively manage risks and ascertain on-time completion; improved functional testing coverage to ~90% per sprint”
If you’re applying for a tech-focused position, we suggest creating a separate technical skills section to list out your competencies. This will allow you to comprehensively showcase your technical proficiency to the hiring manager.
2) Highlighting tech skills on the cover letter
Cover letters offer an excellent opportunity to delve deeper into your technical competencies. Choose a few key tech skills and go into greater detail in your cover letter. It’s your chance to share your story with the employer and share concrete examples of how you’ve applied these skills in the past. Also, remember to research the company and its role. In your cover letter, you could elaborate on how you can apply your expertise to add value to the company and its goals.
3) Demonstrating tech skills during a job interview
While preparing for job interviews, it’s a good idea to come up with specific examples or stories about how you’ve used your tech skills in the past. We suggest following the S.T.A.R interview response framework for this:
- Situation – What was the context or the challenge?
- Task – What did you have to do?
- Action – How did you do it?
- Results – What was the outcome of your action?
For example, a possible interview answer could be:
“In my Data Structures course, we were tasked with creating an efficient data storage system for a fictional library (Situation & Task). I utilized my knowledge of hash tables and binary search trees to develop a system that could quickly store and retrieve book data (Action). This system was implemented successfully, reducing data retrieval times by 60% in our tests (Result).”
Prioritizing your mental health while learning a new skill
We understand that learning a new skill can be a challenging process, especially if you’re seeking a career change or venturing into a completely new territory. But remember, every professional was a beginner at some point. With persistence and dedication, you can develop expertise in your chosen field. During this time of learning, it’s important to prioritize your mental health and take care of yourself. Here are a few tips to support your well-being:
- Trust yourself: Remember to have belief in your abilities and trust that you have what it takes to learn a new skill. Don’t compare yourself to others, everyone learns at their own place. Keep your focus on your own learning journey.
- Be consistent: When learning a new skill, being consistent is key. Make a realistic learning schedule, and stick to it. Set learning goals for yourself and monitor your progress. If a topic seems too complex, you might find it useful to break it down into smaller sections.
- Seek support: Reach out to a family member, friend, or colleague and discuss your journey. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. If you feel stuck, it’s okay to ask for help.
- Be kind: Lastly, be kind to yourself. Learning anything new can be challenging and it’s okay to make mistakes. Remember to celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small, and keep your eye on the end goal.
We, at CareerHigher, are here for you. We understand how overwhelming the job search process can be, and we are here to support you throughout your job search process. Our team of experts not only helps you with comprehensive job search assistance but also has your back, supporting you emotionally throughout your journey.
To advance in your career in today’s competitive job market, it’s important to continuously update your skillset. Remember, learning is a lifelong process! If you need help with your job search, browse our career advice library to read more about the tips and tricks to support your career growth. If you’re looking for hands-on job search support, feel free to reach out to us. We’re committed to helping you through your job search journey with confidence and care.