Mark Cuban and LinkedIn were right about one thing: Creative thinking is the soft skill that will never go out of style. Across all sorts of jobs and industries, the demand for creative problem solvers is growing.

"I'm creative! I'm GREAT at coming up with new ideas! I'm set for life!" Not so fast. It'll only get you so far. Because how you apply that creativity matters.

Good news for the techies

Software developers and other technical-minded workers need not despair. A massive new report finds that these skills are also incredibly valuable.

But one is not "better" than the other. In fact, you need a little bit of both.

You need the neurons firing on both sides of the brain. Specifically, you need two seemingly unrelated skills -- one left brain (logic, analytic reasoning), one right brain (intuition, creativity).

New data from job market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies finds that the real unicorn employees are those who have one strong skill in each camp. They analyzed nearly 1 billion job postings and found the trend is growing year-over-year. Burning Glass Technologies calls these hybrid roles.

Hybrids will rule the world

Creativity is still key. But can you make sense of complicated data? Are you fluent in Structured Query Language? Do you know your way around customer-relationship-management software?

It's about combining skill sets that were never previously found in the same job.

Burning Glass Technologies predicts people who can successfully leverage disparate skills will become more in-demand, command higher salaries, and will be less likely to lose their jobs to automation.

Many workers are already excelling at this and earning more because of it. Wall Street Journal pulled out a few cold, hard numbers from the report to illustrate how workers can successfully "hybridize" their roles.

Marketing Manager

Typical salary: $71,000

Salary of marketing manager fluent in SQL: $100,000

Salary increase: 41 percent

Customer Service Manager

Typical salary: $49,000

Salary of customer service manager who knows CRM software: $60,000

Salary increase: 22 percent

Those examples highlight the added benefit of learning a technical skill if you're in a more creative or soft-skills focused role.

Likewise, someone who already has strong technical skills can level up their soft skills. WSJ spoke with a software recruiter who estimated how much an New York City-based engineer could increase their salary by becoming a more effective salesperson and moves into a consulting role.

Engineer

Typical salary: $180,000

Salary of commission-based engineer who becomes a consultant: $400,000+

Salary increase: More than 50 percent

No matter what your strengths, this report gives a good reason for everyone to work on mastering a new skill. You probably already know what needs work. Is there a software program you wish you knew better? Do you think you could improve at connecting on a personal level with your coworkers? There are countless courses and books that can help you get started. ​

Published on: Jan 21, 2019
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