Top Hard Skills You Need to Work in Tech

by Modis on November 2, 2016

tech worker using hard schools to accomplish a tech jobStanding out in a competitive tech job marketplace is a challenge when you don’t know what qualities and skill sets potential employers are eager to find in a candidate. Evergreen soft skills—like good communication, leadership, problem solving, and teamwork—are always important when you work in tech, but what about the more specific teachable hard skills that tech employers need the most?

Good news! You don’t have to guess what tech employers are looking for. Our recent Tech Trends: IT Leaders and the Employment Market survey is packed with helpful data to guide you. Here’s a look at some of the important insights on hard skills and education from the 500 key tech employers we polled.

Want to Work in Tech? Hone Your Cybersecurity Skills

With online infrastructure continuing to grow and evolve as an increasingly critical component of tech business, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity is an area of high concern among today’s tech employers. In fact, our recent tech hiring trends survey reveals issues of data and infrastructure security are at the top of the list of worries among 45 percent of respondents, which includes CEOs, managers, and high-level decision makers.

At the same time, 22 percent of respondents indicated cybersecurity roles are the toughest to hire for, making it a prime area for specialists with the right level of expertise to stand out in the tech job market. Information security analyst, administrator, and engineer roles are all in-demand, presenting strong opportunities for candidates who have the experience employers are looking for in this critical areas.

Now Seeking: Project Management Skills

Cybersecurity isn’t the only area that’s tricky to find top quality candidates who have the right combination of skills and experience. Project management skills ranked as the second hardest to hire for among respondents, with 21 percent listing it as their top area of difficult when it come to sourcing the right candidates.

Quality assurance is another in-demand tech hard skill (18 percent of respondents), followed by programming (13 percent), and design (12 percent) to round out the top five areas of need among tech employers we surveyed.

Within these five top hard skill categories lie a whole range of job roles to specialize in, giving lots of room to for job hunters to set themselves apart from the pack.

Valuing Experience vs. Education

Equally interesting is the survey data insight we gained into tech employers’ perspectives on the value of different types of degrees and education among prospective hires.

Perceptions over the value of traditional education aren’t what they once were, as our survey shows much greater flexibility among tech employers. Only 18 percent of decision makers we surveyed said they prefer to hire candidates with a traditional brick and mortar degree in their field of expertise. This has the potential to unlock excellent opportunities for job seekers of different backgrounds.

Unpacking the data further, 20 percent of respondents said they view candidates with online degrees as equal to those who have traditional brick and mortar degrees, and six percent actually said they prefer job seekers who have online degrees. For others, the quality of the education and the subject of the degree outweighs the nature of how it was obtained—which is something that resonated with 27 percent of tech employers we surveyed.

Ultimately, however, professional background and experience in your given discipline trumps all: 28 percent of respondents indicated work experiences and certifications as being more important than education when it comes to evaluating candidates for hire.

tech salary guide 2017

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