Here are the top tech skills you need to know for the job you want

You'll have a better crack at that job if you highlight your experience in recruiters' most sought-after skills, according to ResumeLab.

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Image: BrianAJackson, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Work history and experience play an important role when you're being considered for a coveted job. But in today's tech world, an essential key element, perhaps more important than years at a company, are skills. 

ResumeLab took a deep dive into the stats on the most sought-after skills for technology positions, researching more than 900 occupations in more than 500 industries. The information was gathered from O*NET OnLine, an aggregator of occupational data sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Tech is a best bet for those who want to earn higher incomes and offer the most chances of being competitive in the job market: Nearly 5 million job postings were related to tech in 2019, and 3.5 million STEM jobs needed to be filled by 2025.

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Report highlights

The report listed the following skills as key for job seekers in 2021:

  • Database/query, spreadsheets, analytical/scientific software, and medical software skills are the most in-demand skills across both "highest-paying" ($150,000 and up) and "most likely to hire in the near future" industries.
  • Artificial intelligence is on the rise—86% of companies claim it'll be mainstream technology in 2021.
  • Knowing spreadsheets (44% of job listings) and email (29%) are two solid foundational skills. 
  • Database management was the second most sought after skill (in 37% of job posts), which proves the growing importance of big data across industries.
  • Analytical and scientific software skills (requested by 21% of offers) were the fourth most desired hard skill.
  • Microsoft 365 was only the tenth most requested software skill, implying organizations already expect applicants to be familiar with it.
  • Skill up: You'll be glad you did. Your best bets are Microsoft, Amazon, Apache, Google and Oracle suites of products to become as marketable as possible.

The report chronicles the top job requirements for positions in various industries: agriculture, food and natural resources; and the top three software skills are database user interface and query, spreadsheets and analytical or scientific. 

Other industries looking for tech pros and covered in the report are architecture and construction; arts, audio/video tech and communications; business management and admin; education and training; finance; government and public administration; health science; hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; law, public safety, corrections and security; manufacturing; marketing; science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and transportation, distribution and logistics.

Top 20 most commonly used types of software 

  1. Spreadsheets—used for 403 jobs
  2. Database user interface and query—used for 334 jobs
  3. Email—used for 259 jobs
  4. Analytical or scientific—used for 188 jobs
  5. Medical—used for 126 jobs
  6. Enterprise resource planning—used for 108 jobs
  7. Computer-aided design—used for 104 jobs
  8. Graphics or photo imaging—used for 104 jobs
  9. Word processing—used for 100 jobs
  10. Microsoft 365—used for 81 jobs
  11. Accounting—used for 64 jobs
  12. Operating system—used for 58 jobs
  13. Development environment—used for 57 jobs
  14. Computer-based training—used for 55 jobs
  15. Project management—used for 52 jobs
  16. Map creation—used for 48 jobs
  17. Object or component oriented development—used for 381 jobs
  18. Industrial control—used for 34 jobs
  19. Web platform development—used for 32 jobs
  20. Internet browser—used for 31 jobs

The top 20 most in-demand tech software skill sets

  1. Adobe—Acrobat, Creative Cloud (ASAC), Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop
  2. Amazon—DynamoDB, Elastic Compute Cloud EC2, Redshift, Simple Storage, Service S3, AWS CloudFormation, Amazon Web Services software
  3. Apache—Ant, Cassandra, Groovy, Hadoop, Hive, HTTP Server, Kafka, Pig, Solr, Spark, Struts, Subversion SVN, Tomcat
  4. Atlassian—Bamboo, JIRA
  5. Autodesk—AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Revit
  6. C++
  7. Confluence
  8. Data entry software
  9. Facebook
  10. Google—AdWords, Analytics, AngularJS, Docs, Drive
  11. IBM—Cognos Impromptu, Notes, SPSS Statistics, WebSphere
  12. JavaScript—JavaScript Object Notation 
  13. LinkedIn
  14. Microsoft— .NET Framework, Access, ASP, ASP.NET, ASP.NET Core MVC, Azure, Dynamics, Dynamics GP, Excel, Exchange, Office, Outlook, PowerPoint, PowerShell, Project, SharePoint, SQL Server Integration Services SSIS, SQL Server Reporting Services, Visio, Visual Basic for Applications VBA, Visual Basic Scripting Edition VBScript, Visual Studio, Windows, Windows Server, Word
  15. Objective C
  16. Oracle—Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, Fusion Middleware, Hyperion, Java, JSP, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, JDBC, PeopleSoft, PL/SQL, Primavera Enterprise Project Portfolio Management, Oracle Solaris, Oracle Taleo, Oracle WebLogic Server
  17. Red Hat— Enterprise Linux, OpenShift, WildFly
  18. Ruby—Ruby on Rails
  19. SAP—SAP Crystal Reports
  20. YouTube

Make your resume or application work for you

Job seekers need to tout their hottest skills, ResumeLab said. "Show them off on your resume," it said in the report.

You need to: 

  1. Know the specific technical skills they want.
  2. Show how you've used them to achieve great things.

Include your top skills in resumes and applications, in the skills section, qualifications summary (if applicable) and in the descriptions under any positions in which you used those programs or software.

How you word things counts, too, ResumeLab stressed. It offered this sample:

When you add it to your skills, you can word it as

"Hard Skills: Adobe photoshop, coding, database knowledge."

Here's an example the report provided to highlight skills:

"Results-driven programmer and net security advisor with more than six years of experience. Strong C++ and cloud skills. At Cloudlove, increased customer satisfaction by 35%. Reduced phishing attacks by 20%."

STEM, STEM, STEM

Much of the trendiest tech is needed for rapidly growing STEM positions, which ResumeLab said may go unfilled because "demand outstrips supply." It continued, "If you earn a bachelor's or a higher ed degree in STEM, you'll not only be highly sought after, you'll have higher earnings than many with non-STEM degrees. The hard truth: Not enough Americans are employed in STEM occupations. We're reaching crisis level."

The report further stated, "A scant 16% of American high school seniors are interested in a STEM career. Just about half who do choose to go to college for a STEM degree will actually work in a related career.  The U.S. ranks 25th in mathematics and 17th in science compared with other industrialized countries. We need to turn this around. Now."

STEM jobs need to be diversified, too, as they lack women and minorities. "Stay the course despite setbacks" it advised, after noting that 52% of women in U.S. STEM fields leave their jobs, most in their mid- to late-30s and do not return.

The least you need to know from ResumeLab's report

In summation, there are jobs that require little prep but provide a decent salary (i.e. farm labor contractors who only need a high school diploma earn, on average, $62,060); there are positions that require significant education yet provide mediocre wages (i.e. exercise physiologist who must have a master's degree—and all the expense of that education pays an average salary of $54,750); the least amount of software skills needed are spreadsheets, word processing, and email, but vary with job requirements, and lastly, STEM "has a shortfall of qualified candidates."

Also see

By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...