Businesses across all industries are on the lookout for good employees. So, what makes a good employee? The right combination of so-called "hard" and "soft" skills can make your resume stand out from the pack and position you to stoke a bidding war between employers who want what you have. This article will help you understand which skills are currently in the highest demand. It will also introduce you to free, easily accessible online lectures, webinars, tutorials and courses—developed and presented by business leaders, university professors, authors, speakers and high-level practitioners—to help you develop, hone and implement these skills.
Hard skills are learnable, teachable and quantifiable. There's a right way and wrong way to do them and they can be tested and demonstrated. Speaking a foreign language is a hard skill, as is computer programming or the ability to fix a car engine, waterproof a boat or cut diamonds. Candidates list hard skill sets on resumes to demonstrate to hiring managers that they have the aptitude required to perform the specific job they're seeking. According to a recent report from LinkedIn the following hard skills are most highly coveted by employers today.
Those who mastered the hard skills of cloud and distributed computing have produced some of the most important technologies of the modern era, including software as a service (SaaS), application service provision (APS), Web 2.0 and utility, grid and cloud computing — and they're compensated handsomely for their talents. Platform engineers can expect to earn salaries of $120,000. At $135,000 a year, cloud architects do even better. Are you considering learning the hard skills that could lead to one of these exciting and lucrative careers? Take one or all of the following free courses to dip your toes in the water, get a feel for the craft and better understand whether you're a good fit for this kind of work.
Data mining involves the use of data to inform important business decisions. The hard skill requires practitioners to harvest and interpret critical information from huge data sets, develop models and present the results as clear, actionable intelligence, or "clean" data. That clean data is then taken for statistical analysis for applications in machine learning, algorithms and other critical functions. The people who master these skills can pursue careers that pay good money. Data analysts, for example, can expect to earn around $62,000 a year. That number jumps to $72,000 for business analysts and more than $90,000 for statisticians. Check out a few of the following free courses to as an introduction to the hard skills needed to enter one of these professions.
The hard skills behind middleware and integration software allow professionals to perform the difficult but crucial work of uniting different and separate applications, such as database systems and web servers. Once you learn these skills, you can pursue a career as a systems integration engineer or an IT manager, both of which come with salaries that flirt with six figures. If this sounds good to you, get started with a few of the following free courses, which you can take online anytime you like.
Web architecture refers to the third tier in the standard three-tiered architecture—presentation. This skill focuses on web-based applications as opposed to traditional desktop applications. Standard web developers earn roughly $65,000 a year, while full stack web developers do even better and can expect to pull in about $12,000 more annually. If this is something that appeals to you, the following courses can help you ease into an understanding of what it takes to pursue a career in this field.
User interface (UI) designers work hard to please the end user. From buttons and fields to menus and icons, a program, system or application's UI determines the user's experience. The best UI designers create platforms that are simple, user friendly, easy to navigate and adaptable. They create, design and implement informational and navigational components, as well as input controls and containers. These skills could land you a job as a web developer, which generally pays $65,000 a year. UI designers earn $72,000 annually and UX designers earn $85,000. Get started by completing the following free courses.
One thing that's universal to nearly all software is that it's in a constant state of evolution, update and revision. Software revision control is the hard skill that allows professionals to track alterations made to software programs over time and to record those changes in a special database. If something goes wrong, which it's sure to do, these specialists can travel back in time to earlier versions, find the mistake and fix the problem while inflicting minimal disturbance to systems and operations. They're also charged with protecting the all-important source code both from sudden catastrophe as well as the slow, steady drip of inevitable human error. Both software programmers and web developers earn comparable salaries of $64,000 and $65,000 a year, respectively. Does this sound like something you'd be good at? Check out the following free courses to get you started.
Data presentation is the hard skill that allows designers to take raw data, compile it and present it in a way that is attractive and easy to understand for the target audience. This could entail everything from the creation of basic charts to elaborate graphic designs or anything in between. Master these skills and you'll be qualified for a variety of careers with a broad range of salaries. Graphic designers, for example, can expect to earn $45,000 a year, whereas business consultants make $83,000 a year. If you apply the hard skill of data presentation to becoming a data scientist, you could earn a hefty $113,000 in annual compensation.
Unlike hard skills, soft skills are difficult to teach and are often inherent to an individual's personality. When it comes to resumes, hard skills are job specific, like a software developer listing mastery of C++ on an application for a programming job. Soft skills, on the other hand, can enhance a resume no matter what the job entails. According to LinkedIn, more than half of employers consider mastery of soft skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, to be more important than hard skills. You'll find that many soft skills overlap. Great leaders, for example, are also usually great communicators. According to LinkedIn, here are the soft skills that, , hiring managers value the most today.
It's hard to imagine that there's an industry where strong leadership skills aren't valued. One of the crucial elements of leadership is the virtually unteachable trait of charisma, but confidence, empowerment and competence as a manager are all ingredients in the recipe that makes a great leader. Strong communication skills are a must, as are integrity, loyalty and enthusiasm for the job. When it was stated that some of these traits are virtually unteachable, virtually was the keyword. The following courses can help ignite dormant leadership skills in many people who might not even know that they possessed them.
Like leadership, communication is a vaguely defined, but critical skill in nearly all fields and industries. Those who can communicate their ideas effectively to a broad range of audiences will have a leg up on those who cannot. The soft skill of communication goes well beyond eloquence or the ability to articulate thoughts clearly in speech and writing. Good communicators know their audience, are masters of several different mediums of communication, are good networkers, are empathetic, exude confidence and, perhaps most importantly, are good listeners. Employers of all stripes are always on the lookout for great communicators. Brush up on your skills and learn some new ones with these free courses.
From the CEO to the custodian, business is a team effort—and team players are often the ones who rise through the ranks. Collaboration is a highly coveted soft skill that involves trust and reliability. When everyone on the team can be counted upon to do their part diligently, the team thrives. Good collaborators are good communicators. They're tolerant and receptive to competing ideas and they're willing to compromise. These courses can help you become a better collaborator, and therefore a more attractive candidate for virtually any position or industry.
One of the oldest adages in business is that time is money. Every human being on Earth is forced to work within the confines of the same 24-hour days and seven-day weeks. Those who manage their time well are positioned to be productive employees. Those who do not cannot say the same. Time management is all about setting lofty, but realistic goals and then employing discipline and self-motivation to make those goals a reality. Time management requires focus, strong decision making, resistance to inhibitors like procrastination, the willingness to say "no" and to understand your own limitations. Develop and enhance these critical soft skills with the following free courses.
In the global economy, where the world's scattered cultures and people are all tightly connected through the Internet and social media, employers are aggressively scouting for candidates with advanced cultural intelligence. This is especially true for companies looking to expand to overseas markets. Employees with the soft skill of cultural intelligence might be well traveled, bilingual or come from diverse backgrounds that instilled in them a keen understanding of cultural nuance and sensitivity toward cultural differences. Sharpen your level of cultural intelligence by taking part in the following courses.
Customer focus is a loosely defined, but critically important soft skill awarded to professionals who have a keen knack for understanding and anticipating changes and trends in customer attitudes and expectations. These highly valued employees have their fingers on the pulse of their business's key demographics and can help their employers get ahead of changing trends, patterns, attitudes and expectations. Professionals with strong customer focus skills might have backgrounds in public relations, social media or, of course, customer service. No matter your work history, you can brush up on this critical soft skill with the following courses.