2017 Talent Forecast


What skills do you need to get a job in 2017? We mined our Labor Insights database to get a snapshot of the skills in greatest demand over the past year to make a forecast for the year ahead.

2016 Career Snapshot

We pulled data from over six million job postings between Dec 2015 and Dec 2016 looking for the top skills employers want. Check out our chart of the top 15 specialized skills sought by employers and the number of job descriptions requiring those skills.

Our data shows that the specialized skills in greatest demand are Microsoft Excel/MS Office, budgeting, and project management. Why are these skills so valuable? They reflect of the changing world of work.

Data Science Will Power The Future

Why do Excel, SQL, and Python consistently rank as the most in-demand software skills? Because data science is the fastest growing industry in tech right now. Big data isn’t just a buzzword, it’s the future. In a 2009 paper, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data”, Google’s AI expert Peter Norvig explained the power of big data by saying: “Simple models and a lot of data trump more elaborate models based on less data.” While statistics might explain something happening right now, “data science can discover and extract actionable knowledge that can be used to make decisions and predictions,” writes Irving Wladawsky-Berger in the Wall Street Journal. The field of data science will continue to grow in 2017.

Learn more about Data Science >>

Budgeting Will Drive Strategy

A budget isn’t just something that the finance office requires for accounting reasons. Creating your departmental budget means mapping out your financial and operational goals and setting up a financial plan to achieve them. The budget for your department is part of your organization’s overall strategic plan and will be used when your leadership team is considers acquiring new products or systems or reallocating resources. Budgeting is a skill increasingly in demand as companies work to improve operational efficiency and coordinate activities cross departments, especially when their decisions that will impact long-term growth. As a manager, your department’s budget is also a common benchmark for your performance review, so being able to make a compelling argument for increased resources or talk about why actual results veered from the original budget is invaluable.

Learn more about Budget & Finance >>

Project Management Will Win Big

Project management is one of those things that looks easy — until you try it. Any good project has plenty of risk. After all, the nature of business is taking risks. However, risk needs to be managed. Project management identifies, manages and controls risk. Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. They need to be integrated with business processes, systems and organizations. You can’t build a sales system that doesn’t integrate with your sales process and sales organization. It wouldn’t add much value. Integration is often key to project value. Project management identifies and manages integration.

Learn more about Project Management >>

Whatever your industry, developing skills in data analysis, budgeting, and the project management can have a tremendous impact on your day-to-day work and help future-proof your career. We wish you the best in your professional advancement in 2017.

Holiday Networking Tips To Jumpstart Your New Year

While it is tempting to take a break from everything work-related over the holidays, you don’t have to put your career on ice.  With so many parties and events in December this is a great season for networking. Many organizations also begin to implement new budgets at the beginning of the year which include money for new hires, so if one of your resolutions is to land a new job in 2017, here a some tips for things you can do over holiday cocktails to become a master networker.

Boost Your Job Search With Season’s Greetings

The holidays are a great time to reconnect with your professional network. Whether it’s via email or a handwritten card, you can use your holiday greetings to benefit your job search. Thank each connection for their support over the past year, and also use this message to highlight any developments in your career and reiterate your professional goals. This is especially helpful to send to your professional references to alert them to any professional development you’re doing to keep your skills sharp.

Use The Holidays As Your Icebreaker

It can be hard figure out how to lead a networking conversation, but at its core networking is about communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. The holidays can inspire plenty of questions to break the ice and get to know other people better. Asking which holidays people celebrate, what their favorite holiday foods are, and whether they’ll be travelling before the new year are all ways to kick off a conversation that’s personal and fun. Questions revolving around food and travel are great go-to icebreakers throughout the year, as nearly everyone loves to eat and enjoys travelling.

Make A List (But Don’t Check It Twice)

Setting objectives for what you’d like to get out of each event — whether that’s getting an introduction to a specific person or talking to at least three people before you leave — can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence as a networker. The holidays are an opportunity to take the pressure off yourself and make networking fun again. Don’t bring your resume to the office holiday party, but instead set a goal of building rapport with new connections and setting the stage for a follow-up in the new year. Make your networking event goals something that you can achieve within the first hour and leave time to enjoy the holiday spirit. You never know who you’ll meet at the hot cocoa bar or how that person might help your career.

Focus On What You Can Do For Others

The holidays are a time for giving back, and one of the secrets to successful networking is focusing on others rather than yourself. If you’re an introvert who dreads corporate holiday parties, look around for someone else who has no one to talk to. Approaching that person with a friendly smile and an introduction is a gift they’ll certainly be thankful for. Always look for ways that you can add value by figuring out what others need and connecting them to people who might be able to help, even if that person isn’t you. Facilitating connections helps build genuine relationships and encourages people to return the favor someday.

Happy holidays and happy networking!

Smart Ways To Get Out Of A Rut At Work (Without Quitting)

Ever feel like even when you spend more time on work, you still can’t get anything done? Do you find yourself staring at your computer screen aimlessly, feeling that you’re doing the same thing today that you did yesterday… and will do again tomorrow? If you’re stuck in a rut at work it can feel like the only answer is to find a new job, but there are things you can do to break out of a rut and start feeling good about your work again without hitting the job boards.


Take some time to think and figure out when you started feeling “off.” Are you physically exhausted from weeks of overtime? Are you emotionally depleted by something going on in your personal life? Or have you advanced enough in your field that you never feel challenged at work? Once you understand what’s causing you to feel stuck you can create a plan to recharge your life.

Get Organized

When you’re in a rut, it’s typical to let things pile up. Get organized by replying to those emails, decluttering your desk, and finishing up those half-completed projects. This will give you the forward momentum to make positive changes.

Shake Up Your Routine

Research shows that change – even small changes – can significantly improve your outlook and give you a new direction. Shake up your daily routine by swapping your office chair for a standing desk or an exercise ball, take a day to telework, or make time to talk to your colleagues face-to-face rather than communicating solely via email. Breaking your routine can reinvigorate you and help you get inspired to try other new things like reading a book or blog (like this one!) or going to a professional seminar.

Find Your Vision And Work Towards It

If you’re experiencing burnout, it’s easy to disengage and leave your best self at the door. Reignite your passion for your work by remembering why you started your career in the first place and what vision you had for yourself in the future. Once  you have a solid vision, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your role in your organization is limited to your job description. Look for opportunities to network across departments and develop new skills, and you may open the door for new and interesting projects or even a promotion.

The 7 Scariest Interview Questions — And How To Answer Them

Interviewing for a new job is one of the most frightening things you’ll do all year. This Halloween, we’ve sifted through some of the scariest interview questions you’re likely to face and come up with some expert tips for tackling them.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

This questions strikes fear in all who hear it. Even though nearly every interview starts off with this question, it’s always nerve-wracking to answer when you know this will be the first impression you make on the interviewer. Research the position and the company so you’ll be prepared to frame your experience in a way that shows you have the skills for the job, but remember not to make this sound too scripted.

DO: Focus on your professional background and be succinct.

DON’T: Share your life story or go through your resume line-by-line.

2. “What is your greatest weakness?” 

This question has become cliché, but employers still ask it. Definitely don’t respond to this with the equally clichéd, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.”  Employers ask this because they want to gauge your self-awareness. Now is not the time to humblebrag.

DO: Show that you’re aware of your weakness(es) and have taken steps toward overcoming them.

DON’T: Mention a weakness that is a core competency of the job.

3. “Why have you been out of work for so long?” 

Being asked to explain an employment gap can be panic-inducing, and, if you’ve been unemployed for a significant amount of time, this question can start to feel like a personal attack. Remember to breathe and understand that the employer is trying to get an idea of how fresh your skills are and why this is the right job for you when returning to the workforce after a break.

DO: Give an honest answer that still positions you as a strong candidate for the job.

DON’T: Lie, make excuses, or indicate that you’re desperate for a job.

4. “Why should I hire you?”

We’ve talked about the best way to answer this one before. The key thing to remember here is that your answer to this question needs to be different from your answers to “Tell me about yourself” or “What are your greatest strengths.” This is your chance to stand out from other candidates and you won’t do that by restating what’s listed on your resume.

DO: Be specific about what makes you unique and how you can help the organization achieve its goals.

DON’T: Just reiterate things you’ve already said at another point in the interview.

5. “What are your salary requirements?”

This is an uncomfortable question with high stakes. Don’t wait until you’re asked to think about your answer. Making a split-second decision is not a good way to start a salary discussion that will have a big impact on your future. Research the average salary for professionals in your industry and region, and understand your personal financial needs and your bottom line. Remember: It’s best to find out what range the employer is working within first, before giving your own number.

DO: Provide a salary range that you would be comfortable within rather than a specific number, and understand the benefits package offered.

DON’T: Get into a detailed salary negotiation before you have a formal offer of employment.  

6. “Do you have kids?”

Or “Are you married?” Or “What country are you from?” Not only are these questions frighteningly personal, they’re also illegal. Questions about your marital status, national origin, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disabilities are off-limits and illegal to ask in an interview. If you find yourself facing inappropriate interview questions, evaluate whether the interviewer is simply ignorant of the law or deliberately discriminating. Think about whether you would still be comfortable working for the organization in light of the situation and whether you still wish to continue with the interview. If you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against, you can file charges with the US EEOC.

DO: Let the interviewer know that you believe their question is inappropriate and/or illegal. Politely decline to answer and, if you are still interested in continuing with the interview, ask to move on to the next inquiry.

DON’T: Lie, and don’t feel that you need to discuss anything you don’t feel comfortable sharing. 

7. “If you were an animal, which one would you be?”

Or “How many traffic lights are there in Manhattan?” Don’t be alarmed by off-the-wall interview questions. Interviewers sometimes use psychological questions or “wildcards” to see if you can think quickly and find out how you solve problems. Remember that there isn’t a “right” answer here. You just need to demonstrate thoughtfulness and agility.

DO: Take a (brief) moment to understand the question before answering, and explain why you answered the way you did.

DON’T: Give a one-word answer or ask to skip this question.

There are hundreds of other frightening interview questions out there, some even scarier than these. What’s the most terrifying interview question you’ve ever been asked?

Why Intercultural Communication Skills Matter Now

Globalization is a hot topic in this year’s presidential election. As candidates discuss the pros and cons of globalization’s effects on business and enterprise in the U.S., it is clear that the next administration will have to address new challenges related to the globalization of economies. However, addressing globalization’s impact is not just the responsibility of heads of state. With students and employees continuing to cross borders, institutions of higher education and organizations are swiftly diversifying. All of us are responsible for adapting to this changing environment.

Developing intercultural communication skills matters more than ever. Wondering how you can better engage with people from different countries that are sitting in your classroom or joining your team at work? Here are two steps to help you connect with people from different cultures:

1. Learn about where you come from.

The way we see, interact with, and understand the world depends on the culture and values we grew up with. As we become increasingly interconnected, it is important to understand who you are in order to best communicate with others. Recognizing that you see the world in a unique way will help you to understand why someone from a different culture may not see things exactly the way that you do. Think about aspects of your identity, such as your age, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability status, sexual orientation, and spiritual orientation. How have these parts of your identity impacted your worldview? In addition, how have certain sociocultural and personal events shaped who you are?

2. Learn more about other cultures.

Reading books by authors from other countries, watching movies and documentaries filmed abroad, and reaching out to your colleagues, classmates, and neighbors from different cultures will help you educate yourself about other cultures. Asking someone about cultural do’s and don’ts in their country can often lead to a fun conversation. Taking a language course is another great way to learn about the geography, people, and history of the countries where the language is spoken. The more contact and exposure you have to people from other cultures, the more culturally competent you will become.

Even though we are more connected by popular media today, our cultural differences persist and can lead to unnecessary and unintended intercultural conflicts. If we want to avoid cultural clashes like this, we must educate ourselves as best as possible about who we are and about the cultural values and beliefs of others. Awareness will help us understand why someone may be arguing a certain ethical point in class or leading a meeting in a certain way at work. Awareness will make us better prepared to listen, rather than react. Even if we end up not agreeing, our intercultural communication skills will allow us to respect one another and be more accepting of our differences.