The Internet is an amazing and powerful resource. You can learn any skill you want, whether it’s tying a bow tie or wrapping your hands for boxing. One of the best ways to make yourself stand out during a job search or career change is to develop a skill that you know is sorely needed, and that not many other people have.
One skill area that’s particularly easy to study over the Internet is software and computer skills. But with unlimited resources and a limited amount of time, which skills should you focus on learning in order to develop the skills that employers are actually looking for?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer. Labor markets are incredibly fragmented, and the skills shortage in every state (and every industry) tends to vary. To remedy that, we conducted research to find the biggest “gap” between the software skills that employers are looking for, and the software skills that job seekers actually have, at both the state and industry level.
By using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found the most common occupations in the country. We then used Capterra’s listings to find the 10-15 most commonly used computer programs in each industry. We searched for those software keywords across millions of resumes and job postings on Indeed, and we found where the biggest gaps exist between posted job listings and posted resumes.
A few more details about our research process: first, our investigation took place over the course of a week in late August and early September. This is a limited sample, and supply and demand will inevitably change over time. We also limited our research to one job site, and since we could only search for software programs by name, we weren’t able to search for programs with generic names (like “Action”). By design, we filtered out non-statistically significant resumes and job postings, so the ratio of supply to demand wouldn’t be misleading.
One of the most common program gaps in nearly half of the states (and especially throughout the Southeast) was Git, an open source version control system for software development. Even in states where Git wasn’t the program with the biggest skill gap, it was regularly in the top five programs.
Looking at other industries, in sales and marketing, Salesforce Pardot and Sales Cloud have the biggest gaps. These well-known customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation programs are especially desired in Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Washington, DC. And while Marketo wasn’t one of the top five programs with the biggest gaps overall, it did have the biggest gap in Washington state and New Jersey.
If you’re in the world of business analytics and administration, developing your skills in Tableau, a data visualization tool, could help you connect with potential employers. Tableau had the biggest gap for the accounting, trading, and business intelligence industries overall, with the biggest gap in Nevada and Iowa.
Once you’ve researched what skills your future employers are prioritizing, you can begin your education. Through Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) like Coursera and Code Academy, or online video tutorials like Lynda, knowledge is literally at your fingertips. With the research we conducted, it’s clear that aspiring developers and IT professionals should rush to learn Git through Code School or one of any number of Git guides and tutorials available online; for CRM programs such as Salesforce Pardot and Sales Cloud, the best training resources are usually through the program’s website.
Of course, a potential employer cares about more than just a laundry list of skill sets and proficiencies; they want to make sure you’re a strong cultural fit for the company and have the personality to succeed in that particular work environment as well. However, having the standout skills on your resume will help get your foot in the door, and from there, you can wow them by explaining how learning their preferred program shows your sense of initiative—all you have to do is get started.
This article first appeared on MidAmerica Nazarene University.