2021 marks a new decade of the fourth industrial revolution. As automation and technology become more integrated into our careers, there is a growing digital divide in our society (van Dijk & van Deursen, 2014). Although access to digital media is spreading universally, the gap in skills also increases. Current research shows that 90% of professional careers require at least basic digital skills. Meanwhile, in larger organisations specialist skills are even more in demand (The Complete Guide to Digital Skills, 2021). Therefore, what can we do to adapt to the rapid digital revolution in the job market?
To avoid being left behind, new workers need to incorporate technology into their offered competencies. Thus, in this article, we will address the fundamental digital skills needed to succeed in the upcoming job market. Firstly, we will discuss what digital skills really are and the types of technological proficiency. Afterwards, we will outline the 10 most demanded digital skills in 2022 and how you can obtain them. Ready to become the tech wizard for your dream job? Let’s find out more about digital skills!
What are digital skills?
Digital skills commonly refer to abilities to use digital devices, software, applications, and networks to manage information (Digital Skills Critical for Jobs and Social Inclusion, 2018). Acquiring ‘digital literacy’ means being able to create and share digital content, communicate, and solve problems using digital technology (van Dijk & van Deursen, 2014). Consequently, in the current era, at least entry-level digital skills are considered critical to secure a career.
This is why independently expanding digital skills are important. As new sources of digital technology keep expanding, foundational education often remains the same. It is therefore our task to keep up with the latest demands of the job market.
What types of digital skills are there?
Digital skills range from the very basics to highly specialised ones. For instance, jobs always require the minimum of operational skills (operating a computer) and formal skills (understanding technological characteristics such as opening sites, hyperlinks, etc). However, in this article, we are focusing on higher levels of digital skills crucial for service jobs.
For example, this includes information skills: searching and analysing information from digital media. Concurrently, communication skills are also crucial: Using web applications to interact digitally. Furthermore, on even higher levels employers seek content creation skills: Creating digital textual, quantitative, or animated content. Lastly, strategic skills are especially crucial for businesses. It refers to the ability to use digital mediums for a professional goal (van Dijk & van Deursen, 2014). What are some real-life examples of these skills? Let’s take a look at our top 10 list of most demanded digital skills for the upcoming year!
10 Digital skills for the job market
1. Basic technical and software skills
In the highly digitalised 21st century workplace, software operation knowledge is crucial. Even if you are not a media or tech specialist, most modern businesses have switched to digital management. Therefore, knowing the basic operating skills for the most common work software is a definite strong factor.
Research outlines that some of the most common programmes listed in job advertisements nowadays include:
- Microsoft Office: A must-have skill for all working generations after the 90s, Microsoft Office proficiency is often undermined by many. However, MS Office goes beyond simple Words or PowerPoints skills. In fact, most companies these days require strong knowledge of Excel. Unfortunately, for those outside the fields of Management or Accountancy, this usually requires a higher level of training.
- Adobe Software: This ranges from the basic Adobe Acrobat to Adobe Analytics, Creative Cloud, Illustrator, or InDesign. For media specific jobs, it is not uncommon to find employers asking for a specific Adobe qualification. However, even outside the media field, Adobe skills are highly sought after.
- Photoshop: Photoshop has become more commonly used outside the design field. Since all businesses rely on good branding and design, this skill is a timeless plus point for new hires.
- WordPress: Basic website operation is a required starting skill for many employers. Since major companies maintain a digital website, knowing how it operates is a definite plus for your competencies (Doyle, 2021).
Acquiring competencies in operating these apps are part of the strategic type of digital skills. By using the software, you can help the company achieve their professional goals more efficiently.
2. Digital marketing skills
For those seeking to secure work in private businesses, communication, or marketing, this skill set is a must. Digital marketing skills are a combination of communication and content creation types of digital skills. Unlike in the old days where marketing is done on the streets, nowadays companies rely on digital promotion. Therefore, even when you are not working in marketing, companies demand this skill to maintain their digital prestige.
Concurrently, marketing campaigns usually employ search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, or even e-commerce marketing. Businesses use them to gain the highest profit in promoting their products at large. Therefore, companies usually demand competencies of these tools as well as analytics software.
One of the most fundamental parts of this skill set is content marketing. Quality content increases brand awareness and help establish a good reputation for the company. Consequently, a digitally literate worker is therefore expected understand the basics of creating good content. This for instance ranges from videos, infographics, media posts, and others. Moreover, this content needs to be relevant for keyword research and can help the company’s digital persona (10 Digital Skills That Can Make Students Instantly Employable | DMI, 2017).
3. Social media skills
Furthermore, another extension of digital marketing is the capability to strategically use social media. In the digital age, social media occupies a crucial role in our professional lives. Therefore, understanding and using social media for professional purposes are core skills that are highly desirable.
Concurrently, social media skills go beyond posting a Facebook or Twitter post. Instead, it requires an understanding of the brand, the influencers, and the consumers. This is because businesses need to create a connection that will increase their web traffic (10 Digital Skills That Can Make Students Instantly Employable | DMI, 2017).
Therefore, mastering tools of social media management, performance measurement, or channel research become crucial (The Complete Guide to Digital Skills, 2021). This skill is connected to the communication type of digital skills. Understanding social media will make the desirable communicative employee that companies seek!
4. Programming, web, and app development
At the basic, programming or web development concerns the construction of web applications. They are part of the strategic type of digital skills. Consequently, a web application is an interactive programme that stores and manipulates data used to perform internet tasks (e.g., website). They are easily accessible via web browsers and often require a sign in (Johnston, 2020).
However, programming does not always mean building a web from scratch. In fact, simply knowing the basics of operation, or using the tools are relevant skills to prepare for the job market. For instance, some of the most commonly used web apps include Salesforce and Notion. Salesforce is an application that holds the company’s database and presents relevant dashboards and reports. Meanwhile, Notion is a collaborative web app allowing companies to monitor workload (Johnston, 2020). Knowing how these web apps operate is definitely a digital skill that will boost your CV!
5. Digital data visualisation and design
One thing that the digital world can’t get enough of is quality and attractive visualisation. When interactions with consumers become predominantly digital, websites turn out to be the first contact point. However, it is not just about looking nice. Instead, companies constantly look for workers who can most effectively present information. Consequently, this is why data visualisers and graphic designers are highly sought after.
Whether it is to present a highly informative data to consumers or to create an efficient workflow, visualisation is fundamental. Data visualisation mainly refers to the presentation of data in a visual form such as charts or schematics. This is crucial because big datasets are useless if they cannot be understood in an efficient way. Therefore, possessing this skill allows you to help management make vital business decisions.
Data visualisation is perfect to help you develop your content creation and communication types of digital skills. If you are uncertain where to start, common tools such as Tableau and Power BI are beginners friendly. Safe to say, your ability to present visually attractive, interactive, and effective data is a fundamental plus for the job market (The Top 10 Digital Skills Tech Companies Are Looking for Today, n.d.).
6. Data science and data analytics
As companies go through more and more data each year, those who can make sense of it effectively are highly valuable. Therefore, data science has become a requirement for higher roles, and data analyst skills are more in demand than ever (The Top 10 Digital Skills Tech Companies Are Looking for Today, n.d.). This is because for companies in the digital revolution, precision is everything. They are thus constantly looking to track success and failure of digital initiatives. This is why data analytics is a valuable skill. As a new recruit, it will allow you to make educated and data-driven decisions (The Complete Guide to Digital Skills, 2021).
What makes data analytics important? Companies want to avoid wasting resources to campaign or produce a product based on trends or gut instincts. Therefore, the ability to know what data to collect and which part needs to be improved is invaluable. Some of the most common data analytics skills include modelling, SQL, statistical analysis, database management, and reporting (Burnham, 2021). All of this relates to information and strategic types of digital skills. Even if you are not a data analyst, knowing how to maintain and communicate data systems are must-have skills!
7. Search engine marketing
A simpler yet equally crucial skill in this list is understanding search engine marketing (SEM). It predominantly refers to increasing website visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). As online shopping and digital company profiles become more important, SEM is increasingly used to increase awareness of businesses (Search Engine Marketing (SEM), n.d.).
How does SEM work? SEM relies on keyword research, geographic location, and text content to promote the website in search algorithms (Search Engine Marketing (SEM), n.d.). Whether you are a telemarketer, a writer, or others, SEM knowledge can increase awareness of your company. Consequently, businesses will then be able to attract valuable web traffic from the search engine.
8. Digital project management
Digital project management is one of the textbook examples of strategic digital skills. It relies on using digital data to manage professional projects (software, website, marketing campaign, etc). In simple terms, digital project management is planning, organising resources and process online. This is therefore one of the skills most sought after for managerial or higher positions in firms.
However, it is broader than classic project managing. Going beyond common managerial leadership tasks, it requires mastery of project management methodologies. Therefore, competencies in digital project management tools such as Waterfalls, SCRUM, or AGILE will definitely make your CV stand out. Moreover, they will help give you a good overview on the company and allows you to develop your strategic analytical competency (The Top 10 Digital Skills Tech Companies Are Looking for Today, n.d.).
If you want to give yourself a heads up in your career, digital project management skills are a must. Employers expect a hire that is more ready for leadership roles and this skill set is the way to earn their trust. So get ready to brush up on your digital managerial skills (Aston, 2021)!
9. Digital product management
Still related to strategic skills, digital product management is another skill set highly sought in software services. However, you do not have to be a specific digital product manager to pursue this skill. Instead, this is something that can benefit anyone in a managerial or leadership position. Concurrently, any producing businesses highly benefit from someone with this skill set to monitor their products.
Digital product managing includes overseeing a product’s entire life cycle. A product can be anything from what the company produces to a content (writings, videos, etc). This signifies using web software or applications to monitor the scope, the technology used, and the outreach to customers. In essence, it is about getting an overall vision of the product.
This skill’s high desirability led to the development of many product management tools such as Aha. For instance, with this app you can create a product roadmap to monitor each team’s work and progress. Consequently, mastering this skill will put you on the top of your game in terms of leadership!
10. Cybersecurity Skills
The final digital skill on our list is one that is often overlooked but equally fundamental. Digital literacy is not only about mastering web techniques but also about securing your digital work. The digital revolution has pushed companies to opt for efficient digital transactions and communication. However, if employees are not adept at managing digital risks, this puts the company in danger of cybersecurity.
Therefore, a good understanding of cybersecurity is crucial, specifically for companies with high privacy databases. This includes something as simple as understanding how safe transactions work via digital channels to securing a safe connection in third party communication. Furthermore, another commonly demanded skill is to be aware of cybersecurity alerts. For instance, noticing when there is a data breach and how to solve the problems.
With the technological revolution, cybercrime has become a strong concern for major corporations. Many businesses who fall victim to it often do not recover from the significant breach. This is why cybersecurity skills are one of the simplest yet most valued traits in the job market. After all, all high-tech skills first need a meticulous and trustworthy operator!
As the digital revolution continues to expand globally, companies seek more employees that can give them a competitive edge. Although moving all business interactions have its efficient perks, it also highly increases international competition (Zoe, 2019). Therefore, the hiring criteria are shifting from the most qualified to the most adaptable in digital environments. Our advice to surviving the fourth industrial revolution? Training, skills development, and most importantly, a passion to learn. With hard work and adaptive digital skills, you will take them by storm in your next dream job interview!
By Florencia Edgina Socio-political academic researcher and content writer.
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