In an age of big data, having tech skills is important, but the pendulum might be starting to swing the other way. More companies are requiring a mix of technology and people skills, and 2016 is being called the year of the hybrid job.
Researchers from Bentley University examined 24 million job listings, looking for key skills across nine industries. They found that employers want multifaceted employees who possess hard skills such as database technology, coupled with traditional soft skills like communication and collaboration.
"We may refer to these skills as hard versus soft, IQ versus EQ, or left brain versus right brain," says Susan Brennan, associate vice president of university career services at Bentley University. "Whatever the terminology, employees must demonstrate deeper and broader competencies to be marketable."
The 21st-century workplace demands versatility. Big data, for example, is becoming increasingly important to the success of businesses, and every industry is making considerable investments. "Not surprisingly, occupations pertaining to data analysis are the fastest growing today across multiple industries," says Brennan. "The ability to compile, analyze, and apply big data to everyday business decisions is driving major change. In the IT space, big data roles have seen a nearly 4,000% jump in demand. But with the availability of data comes the requirement to analyze and visualize data."
Employers need staff that can compile, interpret, and apply data to their role and the company more broadly. "Regardless of function, employees need to be able to effectively communicate what the data means and apply it to big-picture objectives," she says. "But this can’t be done in a silo; collaboration and teamwork are essential."
Another reason hybrid skills are in demand is the generational shift in the workplace, where large numbers of baby boomers are retiring and taking years of institutional knowledge and skills with them, says Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University. "This makes the change in job requirements even more notable," she says. "And it underscores not only the importance of effective knowledge transfer from retiring workers to new employees in the critical onboarding process, but also the need for versatile employees."
Employers should look for candidates that demonstrate a balance between professional education and the arts and sciences, suggests Cordes Larson.;