skills employers are looking for in 2014

There aren’t enough high quality workers out there.

That’s according to a recent small business optimism survey.

The NFIB’s July 2014 small business optimism survey revealed a lot of interesting things, some of which I’ve spoken about before.

In a previous blog post discussing why productivity is at an all time low in the US, I mentioned that the main drivers of growth right now are share buybacks, and that spending is at an all time low, which isn’t sustainable.

According to NFIB’s chief economist, in his commentary about the report, he says:

Capital spending reports continue to remain mediocre, spending plans are weak, and inventories are too large, with more owners reporting sales trends deteriorating than improving.

But to me, the most interesting part of the report was this next statistic:

42% of respondents say that there are “few or no qualified applicants” for jobs.

What’s even more worrying, is that this number has been going up since 2009, meaning people are less and less qualified.

This, to me, is a huge deal.

Another worrying statistic to me, is the fact that the employment picture doesn’t seem to be getting better, even though it might seem like it is.

Although more jobs are being created, they’re mostly low-paying, part-time jobs. Again, from the chief economist at NFIB:

Gains in part-time employment, offset by losses of full-time workers is not a good model for economic growth.

We talk a lot at Officevibe about hiring best practices, and how companies really need to put more of an emphasis on hiring, but maybe it’s not all their fault.

I’ve seen this theme before in other surveys, employers don’t feel as if employees are ready enough for the job.

Is it the school systems fault? They probably deserve a big part of the blame, but I’m a big believer in personal responsibility.

Don’t blame the school, and take it upon yourself to teach yourself new skills. It’s also important for employers to be a little more open about the learning path that candidates take.

Takeaway For Job Seekers: Take classes online to improve your skills, and work on improving soft skills.

Takeaway For Employers: Don’t be so traditional; if someone didn’t graduate from Harvard, but they took the initiative to learn on their own, understand that value.

Let’s look at a few of the skills employers are looking for.

Skills Employers Want

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), these are the skills that are in demand right now:

list of skills for 2014

There are a few common themes that I notice when I look at this list, and I’ll break them down into 3 groups.

1. Being Analytical

You’ll notice a few on the list have keywords in them like “process information”, “analyze data”, “make decisions”. This is where data comes in hand.

Most companies use Google Analytics, so a great place to become proficient in Google Analytics is through their Analytics Academy.

Another course that I personally signed up for is called The Data Scientists Toolbox. I can’t vouch for the course yet, because I haven’t started, but it’s being taught by Johns Hopkins University.

And it’s completely free.

Another course that is on my to-do list, but I haven’t started yet, is called Data Monkey. This is the one I’m personally the most excited about.

2. Being Technical

This is an obvious one, since everything is moving in the direction of technology.

Even if you don’t become a computer programmer, I think it’s important that you have working knowledge of computer subjects to be able to speak intelligently with your coworkers.

There are so many resources online to learn basic skills, but here are a few:

I’ve tried them all, personally I liked Treehouse the best. I’d probably recommend checking out for real beginners.

3. Being A Good Communicator

If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a designer, programmer, marketer, salesperson, or whatever, the writing skills will pay off. That’s because being a good writer is about more than words. Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. – Jason Fried

It’s important to know how to communicate properly, and I think one of the best thing you can do, is commit to writing something every single day.

You don’t have to publish a blog for the world to see, even if you keep it to yourself, writing is very therapeutic, and it will help you improve your communication skills.

What Skills Do You Think Employers Are Looking For?

Are you an employer? What skills are important to you? Let me know in the comments!