You thought managing one job was hard enough. Now, apparently, employers are going to start asking you to master two...or more.
That's the slightly unsettling takeaway of a new report from Bentley University and HR tech company Burning Glass that's based on an analysis of 24 million job listings. It concludes that, "in today's job market, the IT professional must also be a sales representative and the HR manager is now expected to deftly navigate the world of social media.... Job descriptions are expanding to include skills that used to represent standalone jobs."
Meet the "hybrid job." The job description of the future, according to Bentley and Burning Glass, combines both soft skills and technical ones that used to be the provenance of specialists. In 2016, we will see a dramatic rise in employers seeking this sort of all-rounder, the report asserts.
What it means for job seekers
If your professional bread and butter is a single (technical but not too technical) skill, this might be bad news for you. Jobs such as social-media strategist, for instance, seem to be getting swallowed up by hybrid jobs, making pure social-media pros less in demand.
"Some previously popular jobs are in decline, as their once-innovative skills have become mainstream and integrated into other roles. For example, postings for social-media strategists have fallen 64 percent in the last five years, even as the skill of social-media strategy has risen sharply in human resource jobs (up 376 percent), sales jobs (up 150 percent), and marketing and PR jobs (up 117 percent)," elaborates Bentley's analysis of the findings. Similar things seem to be happening with design skills.
Job seekers may need to respond by demonstrating versatility and agility, as well as an ability to adapt and learn. In particular, adding new skills to old competencies can be a great way to get noticed--and paid. "Hybrid jobs that add new skills to traditional job descriptions--for example, marketing jobs that require knowledge of SQL or SAP--pay more than the same jobs without those new skills," claims the report.
Adding a fluency with data to your portfolio is also a pretty good bet. "Occupations pertaining to data analysis are the fastest growing today across multiple industries. 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 percent jump in demand," Susan Brennan, associate vice president of university career services at Bentley University, told Fast Company.
But whatever hard skills you acquire, don't neglect the soft ones. "Regardless of function, employees need to be able to effectively communicate what the data means and apply it to big picture objectives," Brennan adds. "Collaboration and teamwork are essential."
What it means for employers
The more surprising takeaway from the report may be what these changes mean for employers. In a world of hybrid jobs, a liberal arts education, which demands mental flexibility, empathy, and global thinking, takes on new value, according to Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University. Employers may want to look more favorably on candidates whose résumés combine literature classes with technical chops.
Ensuring that those with technical skills are up to the breadth of a hybrid job may also require a change in how employers interview. "Screening for the technical skills needed in the hybrid job is the easy part. Screening for how the applicant puts it all together when a variety of hard and soft skills are required is more difficult," Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer of human resources company ThinkHR, tells Fast Company.
How do you gauge this all-around competency? "We find that using the behavioral interviewing format elicits the best information to make selection decisions," Kerekes recommends. "Questions asked should be tied to situations that are real in your company that this person would face in the job."