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Looking for a new job? Stay on top of career trends and add these abilities to your resume.

Susan Johnston Taylor

Gone are the days of hyper-specialized employees performing a single task without understanding the bigger picture of the business. In today’s job market, employers seek professionals with a much broader skillset, a phenomenon called the hybrid job.

Learn why 2016 is the year of the hybrid job.

New labor market analytics commissioned by Bentley University has found job descriptions now encompass skills that used to represent standalone jobs. Tasks previously performed by social media strategists or web designers are now folding into other roles, threatening to eliminate those positions altogether.

Read on for a description of six of the most sought-after skills, listed in order of job growth in the past five years.


  1. Social Media -- 173 Percent Job Growth
    Over a hundred thousand job listings in the past year required social media skills and that number has grown 173 percent since 2011. Positions in sales, human resources, marketing, public relations and design all require social media savvy for communicating with consumers and other outside audiences via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms. Meanwhile, some human resources roles require similar skills for communicating with employees across an organization and recruiting new ones.

    "Social conversation digitally created and shared is the common language of modern business and society,” says Ian Cross, director of the Center for Marketing Technology and professor in the marketing department at Bentley University. Students in Cross’ e-marketing class create social media campaigns for partner companies and he believes this is a vital skill. “It is incomprehensible to imagine a product launch, a broadcast entertainment or an employer communication that does not include a social component to highlight, add perspective, share, gather feedback and multimedia components to truly illuminate the message.”
  2. Data Analysis -- 82 Percent Job Growth   
    A knack for collecting and synthesizing data is an asset for many types of jobs. For instance, careers in finance might require the ability to prepare financial reports and run statistical analysis of expenses or revenue over time, while marketing and PR jobs might use data analysis skills for measuring social media engagement or marketing ROI (return on investment) over time.

    If you’re interested in data, here are four ways a master’s degree in analytics can help your career.
  3. Sales -- 57 Percent Job Growth
    Going into a sales career requires self-confidence, active listening skills and the ability to build rapport. Beyond traditional sales jobs, related skills are desirable for many other jobs in an organization. For instance, a finance or IT manager might use sales savvy to negotiate more favorable terms with vendors, and an HR professional might use persuasion skills to get buy-in for a new company initiative or to show potential hires why that company is a good fit.

    “Contrary to popular belief, sales is not just about selling a product,” says the director of the Bentley Professional Sales program, Jim Pouliopoulos. “At the heart of sales lie critical skills, such as building relationships, understanding market needs and (ultimately) persuasion, that lead to behavior change. Whether it be redirecting marketing strategy, recruiting talent, investing or managing a team, effective selling techniques will always be in high demand because they transcend job categories and industries.”

    Sales is not just about selling a product, says @bentleyu prof @jimpouli.


  4. Business Development -- 50 Percent Job Growth           
    As companies seek ways to stay competitive and land new business, employees with a knack for developing professional relationships are highly valuable. Rather than simply closing sales, business development takes a longer view, looking for opportunities to gather information about competitors and generating new leads. For instance, employees in finance, HR, management, operations or IT might use business development skills to connect with new prospects at a conference or other event.
  5. SQL -- 49 Percent Job Growth       
    SQL (short for Structured Query Language and sometimes pronounced “sequel”) is a programming language used by humans interacting with databases and extracting data from it. And it’s not just IT professionals and programmers who use SQL on the job. Design professionals might use it to generate reports or create data visualizations based on the data, while supply chain analysts might use it to monitor inventory and forecast future inventory needs. SQL is also the skill on our list with the highest average salary ($93,154).
  6. SAP -- 39 Percent Expected Job Growth   
    Like it’s competitor Oracle, SAP is a popular relationship database system used in the private sector, as well as in government organizations and charities. Understanding this database technology and its applications is a sought-after skill for jobs in IT but also finance, supply chain and logistics, design and HR. Those working with database technology may want to consider certification in this software to validate their skills to potential employers.

    Learn how Bentley students are using these programs.

Susan Johnston Taylor has covered personal finance and business for publications including the Boston Globe, and