Software engineer, buyer planner, editor, developer and graphic artist are the categories employers are increasingly searching for, according to recent research from the world’s largest job site, Indeed. You probably didn’t think these three – buyer planners, editors or graphic artists – were in high demand, part of the skills gaps that employers are scratching to fill perhaps? Buyer planners, by the way, source, select and procure products and services for their companies.
But, wait up, you can’t take high-ranking searches for job titles at face value.
Top searches and the ‘skills gap’ – not the same thing
Keep in mind that Indeed’s search terms are exclusive to job titles and skills – that’s all they’re looking for. The list does not characterize job market growth; rather it represents changes in search terms employers used when culling Indeed’s database (of 100-million-plus resumes worldwide) for candidates over the past two years.
Digging deeper into what search terms mean
I tried all sorts of ways to make a connection between these terms. First, I thought they might show something about the gig economy. Each can be done remotely, offers a flexible schedule and fits many of the characteristics that define the booming independent workforce. I ditched this assumption when I reviewed Indeed’s job profiles for all five terms. They were overwhelmingly full-time postings. Then I tried to tie a tech bow around them. This only made sense in certain cases. In fact, as a result of our effort to fit all of these terms into tech, I learned something about regional employment.
Make your focus more local
For starters, locality is key. When I asked some recruiters, job coaches, and employers from across the country, each person had their own definition of the job titles and skills. Sure, software engineer and developer had universal meanings.
However, for the other roles, the employers weren’t on the same page. In high tech regions, an editor does lots of technical writing; in other regions, an editor focuses on literary or news pieces. Similarly, graphic artists in one locality do mostly advertising and media; while, in others, graphic artists work on web and application design. Depending on one’s area of expertise and location, different conclusions can be drawn from this list. As Daniel Culbertson, an economist at Indeed says: “All labor markets are local.”
A fluid job market
Ranked lists aren’t gospel; even data-driven ones. In 2010, these jobs were supposed to have the biggest growth in the decade to 2020: office and administrative support, health care practitioners, sales, construction, and education, according to the Department of Labor.
But, the revised list, issued in 2016, looked totally different for the projected jobs growth to 2026. It pointed home health aides, personal care aides, software developers, medical assistants and market research analyst/ marketing specialists. It shows an extreme swing in employment growth in health services and STEM. Expect more fluidity, but keep your eye on how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact how we work.
Should skill-up be your mantra?
You’d be forgiven for getting confused about which skills to add to your arsenal as a job candidate. So does it make good sense to chase a forever-evolving list of skills? Certain trends are solid. But many are fleeting. It’s hard to resist toeing the printed line. However, job seekers should know that no single list or database draws a complete picture of the job market. A compilation of data from Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census and others is a way more accurate indicator of employment trends.
Matt Youngquist, CEO of Career Horizons, says: “While I salute the effort to try, I’ve found it extremely hard to draw meaningful conclusions from these kinds of trend studies over the years, simply due to the sheer number of variables involved and all the different contexts in which the search terms in question could appear.”
What the hot search terms really mean
Back to Indeed’s list of the fastest growing search terms by employers. It may only indicate turnover or a unique spike in a certain field, says Culbertson. You’d be better off looking at a broad range of data to work out the best way to craft text for your social profile or resume. Youngquist says: “One of the reasons so many job hunters get missed in searches these days, including for jobs they’re highly qualified to hold, is they’re so close to their daily work routine that they take a ton of search words and competencies for granted. “While you’d think most resume scanning systems are smart enough to read between the lines, they’re not. You either have these words on your materials or you don’t – and if the latter, there’s a good chance you’ll have a pretty low success rate with your materials despite your years of experience.”
Use these insights to get hired
Keywords are, literally, the key to being found in a search. Recruiters and employers use these terms to find what they want in an applicant tracking system or search engine. Even if you have the experience they want, you’re invisible unless your social profile or resume includes for which employers are searching. ‘Word clouds’ will give you an insight. Try Wordle and WordCloud, a couple of the many free word cloud generators. They visually display how frequently a word appears in a text such as resumes, job descriptions and profiles on Indeed, LinkedIn, and other job boards, for example.
Soft skills don’t rank, but should
Across the board, veteran practitioners and senior managers prioritize interpersonal skills. Hence, although characteristics such as flexibility, creative problem solving, collaboration, time management, agility and critical thinking aren’t often searched for, these terms (and substantive examples) should be on your radar. Weave them into your cover letter, resume and mention them in interviews. These skills are essential to success in the 21st-century workplace.
Why you should beware of lists
Finally, in case you are wondering, Indeed research also showed the fastest-growing search terms used by job seekers over this same two-year period were nanny, shipping and receiving, registered behavior technician and budtender (a recreational or medical cannabis dispensary employee).
Our experts were correct, beware of lists. Lists are not the be-all and end-all but can often provide interesting insights along with supplemental information.