Growing demand for the integration of business and technology drives a need for professionals who possess both the soft skills necessary to succeed in business (think communication and collaboration) and the hard, technology-driven skills to support innovation, like data analytics or programming. This increasing overlap has sparked the rise of the hybrid job.
Hybrid jobs require employees with diverse skillsets, and often that means a departure from more traditional, singular, focus on a single area of expertise. All employees need to be able to share information across functions and departments and communicate clearly and effectively.
These jobs are in high demand: hybrid jobs postings exceeded a quarter million from 2014-2015, according to a Burning Glass report. The following year, both Fortune and Fast Company declared 2016 “The Year of the Hybrid Job,” citing demand for information technology that continues to soar. In 2017, LinkedIn reported that in-demand skillsets and job titles were becoming less specialized and more comprehensive.
This shift coincides with a generational shift: as baby boomers retire, their knowledge and skills leave the workplace as well. Upcoming employees must be adaptable to both learn from these tenured professionals and adapt to fill the gaps they leave behind.
The upward trajectory isn’t likely to slow any time soon. Consumers demand accessibility, expect user-friendly websites and mobile apps, and encounter tremendous amounts of well-designed information and advertisement in daily life. To meet those expectations and remain competitive, businesses need to make sense of the massive amounts of data generated, reach consumers in new ways, and stay current on technology.
Hybrid Jobs: Critical Skills
In a labor market analysis, Bentley University established that a core set of skills was requested across multiple jobs, indicating that more and more, business technology requires hybrid jobs in a variety of occupations and disciplines. Those core skills include:
- Business Development
- Data Analysis
- Process Improvement
- Decision Making
The key takeaway is that these skills are no longer isolated to a single role. For example, a traditional sales position would have required business development skills; however, today’s postings include this skill increasingly across marketing/PR jobs (68% increase) and IT jobs (29% increase). Or, consider the social media strategist role. Previously, this was a unique position, mining candidates who were adept a social media. Now, this role has dipped by 64% in the past five years according to Bentley’s analysis, but this skill is now increasingly required in Human Resources (HR) roles, sales and Marketing/PR jobs.
High-Demand Hybrid Jobs
An assessment by Burning Glass also found that hybrid jobs typically possess a core set of in-demand skills. They found that demand for data analytics has tripled in the past five years, with digital marketing and mobile following closely behind with doubling demand. With Big Data available in nearly every facet of business, it is hardly surprising that data science is at the forefront of the burgeoning need for hybrid jobs. These six jobs are some of the most critical hybrid jobs on the market now:
- Data analyst. Data analysts must be able to analyze massive datasets (“Big Data”) to draw conclusions, which typically requires an ability to program, leverage software, and rely on machine learning. Then, they must communicate findings to stakeholders, requiring soft skills like communication, presentation, and problem solving.
- Web developer. In this role, professionals must be able to both code and communicate well. To maintain a website, they must understand the business behind it through research and communication, and have the technical skill to develop and maintain a website.
- Web designer. A web designer’s role is to amplify the visual aspect of a website, which requires both design prowess and the technical skills to realize that vision.
- Digital marketer. In a digital environment, a marketer must not only be a creative, strong communicator but also adeptly navigate technical areas, like social media, marketing automation, digital analytics and statistics.
- Mobile developer. Mobile phones are prolific – in personal lives and in business. But they require specialized development, and these professionals must be able to develop with those requirements in mind.
- Software product manager. To see a product from inception to market, a product manager needs a blend of the technical skills required to develop a product and the soft skills required to orchestrate its production, from navigating business processes to marketing the end product.
Higher Salaries for Hybrid Jobs
Unsurprisingly, high demand means many hybrid jobs command high salaries. In its market analysis, Burning Glass found that most jobs are well above the national average for starting salaries, commanding a range between $65,000 to $111,000 according to job postings. IT roles, which require more training and a greater degree of specialty, generally advertised salaries exceeding $100,000. Mobile development, data analytics and product management paid the highest.
How to Become a “Hybrid” Professional
If it were simple to find and train professionals with hybrid skills, demand would not remain spiked. To thrive in this multi-faced environment, professionals must be able to take a broad perspective and speak to topics beyond their job function. In practice, professionals can take several steps to develop hybrid skills:
- Embrace continuous learning. Technology changes rapidly, and professionals will be expected to adapt along with development. Adopting a mindset of continuous learning, whether through formal, informal or both, pursuing education keeps you in the habit of learning, and helps you adapt more easily to changes.
- Blend professional courses with arts and sciences. Employers will see a liberal arts degree framework, partnered with practical skills. And, this diversity in education also contributes to staying adept at learning new skills, and sharpens critical thinking skills.
- Hone your technical and your personal skills – equally. Leveraging online tutorials or courses offered at your organization can support both hard and soft skills. Learn to code, practice public speaking and challenge yourself to be equally strong in both arenas.
- Tackle new projects. Whether at your current organization or through a consulting role, find opportunities for experience with projects that will challenge your repertoire. Senior executive director at Robert Half Paul McDonald says that an experienced professional with specific expertise can contribute to a business integration project that will require – and build – business, accounting and technology skills.
Predicting which jobs will be available in the next decade can be tricky, but what is certain is that those available jobs – even ones we haven’t heard of yet today – will require well-rounded, flexible employees who are committed to continually enhancing a robust, diverse set of skills to succeed in hybrid jobs.