Why hard skills aren’t enough to land a position in a hot job market

Workers wanted

Workers wanted   10:21 AM ET Mon, 14 Jan 2019 | 02:25

Right now, there’s more work than actual bodies to fill those jobs.

According to the latest Labor Department data, there are about 6.9 million jobs available, about 800,000 more positions than there are available workers.

With many employers saying it’s tough to find qualified applicants to hire, how can job seekers ensure their resumes go to the top of the pile?

“When you talk to employers about the skills they’re looking for, they’re ‘soft skills’, communication, problem solving,” Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s editor-in-chief, told CNBC’s “On the Money” recently.

“One big skill is adaptability. I think that is the key one, making sure you have it,” he said, adding that such a skill means “being able to handle change when it comes to the workforce.”

Roth gave CNBC an example. “When you are working somewhere and they say, ‘Hey, we’re going to automate away your job. We need you to now go work in this other job.’ That’s adaptability,'” he added. Roth said that other soft skills that companies value include creativity, persuasion, collaboration and time management.

Still, hard skills are very much in demand, he cautioned. “You need to learn about AI (artificial intelligence), you need to learn cloud computing, these are the ones that employers want to have but those hard skills are going to change all the time.

Roth added that “Staying current is important, but you always have to have those soft skills too.”

A "'Now hiring" sign is displayed on the front entrance of a Staples store in New York City. 

Drew Angerer | Getty Images
A “‘Now hiring” sign is displayed on the front entrance of a Staples store in New York City.

For workers armed with both hard and soft skills, which jobs are in high demand? Roth pointed to technology.

“Data scientist is the number one, the most in-demand job. Really, it’s just about understanding statistics,” he said.

“Companies have more data now than they’ve ever had before. Making any sense of the data is very tricky so you want to hire data scientists who can help you find intelligence in the data,” Roth added.

Other sought-after jobs include cloud computing software, engineering, product marketing, product design – all of which are being used by a wide range of companies.

“Every company now is sort of a tech company,” Roth noted.”You have to have those skills so there’s huge demand for those positions.”

‘From your bed to the couch’

Millennials, the segment of the population born roughly between 1981 and 1996, now make up the largest part of the U.S. labor force. As the workforce has changed, the workplace is adapting too.

Roth mentioned that LinkedIn “does a list called the top startups”, and said a number of them have only virtual offices.

“There is Halo Top, an ice cream maker. There’s no corporate facility at all, and everyone works remotely,” Roth told CNBC. “And so people call in, they use Slack, and maybe once a year you have an offsite where people come together and meet each other for the first time.”

Younger workers “really love having that kind of flexibility. And the technology available makes it easy for an employer to make it happen.”

The added bonus for workers is an extremely short trip to work. “Your commute is from your bed to your couch,” he joked.