Image: GettyImages/Westend61

In recent months, there has been much speculation about a Great Resignation of sorts as employees look to quit their positions and start fresh elsewhere. At the same time, companies are currently pulling out all of the stops to attract top talent amid a tight labor market. Based on a person’s existing skills and experience, a LinkedIn tool helps prospective job seekers identify new professional pathways and upskilling opportunities to jumpstart a new career.

“The pandemic sparked many to feel like now is a good time to explore a career change, either because their industry has been slow to recover or because they’ve been inspired to try something new – something at LinkedIn we’re calling ‘The Great Reshuffle’,” said Nikhil Gahlawat, senior data scientist at LinkedIn. “As a job seeker, it can be tough to know where to start, but the key is to be able to identify and highlight your skills that can translate seamlessly between jobs and industries.”

SEE: Security incident response policy (TechRepublic Premium)

New IT and security career pathways

Overall, LinkedIn’s Career Explorer looks at thousands of job-specific skills and tech knowledge ranging from time management and interpersonal skills to familiarity with various software applications. Using a metric the company calls “skill similarity,” the tool helps professionals “understand how well one job might transition to another by giving a score between 0 to 100,” according to the Career Explorer page.

These professional pathways cover a wide range of occupations from the service industry to IT. Discussing the top transferable skills in traditional IT and security roles, Gahlawat detailed a job-specific career exploration use case.

“Problem-solving, trouble-shooting and time management are major IT and security skills that are needed in almost every other industry,” Gahlawat said. “Once you shift your mindset and start thinking about skills you have, instead of the job you hold, it’s easy to see how managing an IT implementation can transfer to any implementation outside of IT.”

Aside from switching careers altogether, Gahlawat said the tool is also helpful for people looking to shift career levels such as graduating from a specialist up to a director.

“You can see the skills you have to make that jump and see what skills you need to build,” Gahlawat said.

Situationally, a cybersecurity specialist who wants to become a security team lead “likely already has many of the skills needed,” Gahlawat said, such as vulnerability assessment, network security and incident response, but may need to acquire security operations and security management skills.

Additionally, Gahlawat detailed the requisite skills and upskilling opportunities for an IT analyst attempting to become a technical project manager.

“They likely already have experience in Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and database technologies like SQL, and could close their skills gap by learning a bit about Agile Project Management and Scrum,” Gahlawat said.

SEE: How to manage passwords: Best practices and security tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Companies shift hiring strategies

After a year of hiring freezes and mass layoffs, many executives are planning to hire in the third quarter, although companies continue to have trouble filling open positions. Situationally, top candidates with transferable skills could be at an advantage. Due to the pandemic, Gahlawat said companies have “started to embrace more skills-based hiring practices.”

“Some industries and companies had trouble filling all of the jobs they were adding to keep up with demand, and they realized that hiring based on skills rather than industry experience opened up their talent pools significantly.”

Citing LinkedIn data, Gahlawat said U.S. job posts “listing skills or responsibilities instead of qualifications or requirements” jumped 16% between June 2019 and June 2021.

Upskilling and online learning

Although some employers may be situationally more willing to hire based on transferable skills, others may prefer to value the traditional qualifications and direct experience. Online learning and microcredentials have been popular during the coronavirus pandemic, as professionals looked to brush up their resumes with ample time at home amid lockdown.

On this topic, Gahlawat said one of his favorite Career Explorer features is the “learning opportunities to build skills for a certain job.”

“You can now see a list of skills you might be missing or need to strengthen to make you the best fit for a new career path,” he said.

This list of upskilling opportunities also links out to LinkedIn Learning options as part of a joint initiative with Microsoft and Github, many of which are free of charge, Gahlawat explained.

Landing a new position and candidate confidence

Earlier this year, a survey on Blind found that nearly half of employees were planning to land a new position in 2021. Rather than limiting a job search to direct experience, the Career Explorer tool helps prospective job seekers widen the scope of their search to identify new opportunities.

“Sometimes I think it’s easy to focus on where we might “fall short” and overlook the skills we already have that make us a good fit for a desired role. Therefore, [the tool] can be really helpful to see a list of the skills you already have based on current or recent jobs,” Gahlawat said.

While people may need to upskill in a few areas for a particular role, he said the tool provides “a bit more confidence” by showing people they already possess many of these required skills.

“Those are the things you can highlight for employers when applying to a new position.”