As companies increasingly hire for skills, not degrees, there is more opportunity than ever to break into tech or grow your career off the traditional beaten path. Major companies like Google, Delta, Mastercard and Bank of America have shifted to skills-based hiring. However, you might be asking: what exactly are those skills companies are hiring for?
We spoke to General Assembly instructors and tech professionals at Uber and Doordash to uncover the top skills they see hiring managers looking for in 2023, whether you want to switch careers or land that promotion. Here are the 5 skills you should learn to take your career to the next level this year.
#1 Foundational problem solving skills
When people think about becoming a software engineer or a data scientist, they often jump right into learning how to code. Similarly, aspiring designers often start by learning tools like Figma or Adobe Photoshop. However, code and software programs are simply tools to solve problems. To use them effectively, you have to have a solid foundation of logic and technical principles.
“Code is always just the language, the syntax on top of what your logic is telling you,” explained Nathan Miranda, software engineering manager at DoorDash. “Focus less on the nuances of language, and more on the principles that make code clean, robust and scalable. Languages and frameworks come and go, but principles stay the same.”
As talent shortages persist into 2023, hiring managers care more about potential to adapt and learn than your specific technical abilities. So, we’ll see a renewed emphasis on basic problem solving skills and having a strong technical foundation.
#2 Data analysis and experimentation skills
Data skills have been in high demand for years, and the trend won’t slow in 2023 as the volume of data continues to explode and companies strive to optimize their products and marketing efforts.
“Everything can be translated into data,” says Angelica Bueno Ñañez, digital marketing analyst at Uber. “We are currently creating tons of data. We produce data all the time as consumers and as companies.”
One of the best ways to apply data skills is through experimentation, or testing small changes or additions to a process to see how it impacts results. For example, if you are planning to launch a redesign of an app, you might start by A/B testing small changes among a smaller set of users to get learnings quickly before launching a full redesign.
“There’s a growing trend of companies scaling, and then losing the speed of launching experiments and learning,” said Miranda. “Engineers and other tech professionals can drive data literacy to break down things like features into smaller scopes so we can get learnings faster.”
Whether you’re a software engineer, a UX designer or a data scientist, knowing how to design and execute experiments will become increasingly important, especially as companies seek to scale with fewer resources.
#3 Product sense
Another skill our panel agreed will be critical in 2023 is having product sense, or the ability to understand a product’s needs and what makes it great. If you want to recession-proof your tech career, product sense is one of the most important skills to sharpen, as it allows you to move beyond simply executing requested projects to bringing more strategic thinking to the table, such as ideas for new features.
“That’s going to be a huge trend for engineering going forward, especially with the advent of no code platforms and cloud computing,” said Miranda. “Engineers today need to spend less time thinking about how to make a low level architecture work, but about how different pieces fit together. How can we actually utilize what we have to build products?”
Strengthening your product sense comes from practice, and Miranda recommends going through an exercise of questioning how the things you’re using every day work, and why that approach was the best solution for the customer. For example, if you are navigating your way to work and Google Maps presents you with the fastest possible route, try to think about how it identifies the fastest possible route and what other aspects might be important to a user of Google Maps (e.g., knowing if the faster route also requires tolls).
“That could actually be a Google software engineering interview problem,” said Miranda. “You don’t have to code that out, just think logically. How would you do that?”
While product sense has typically been something left to product management, we’re predicting demand for the skill from UX designers, data scientists and engineers will increase exponentially in 2023 and beyond.
#4 Data privacy skills
Another skill set in high demand? Data privacy. As more data privacy regulations go into effect and consumers gain an increased understanding of how they are being tracked by technology products, companies need technologists with the skills to protect sensitive data, ensuring it’s collected, categorized and stored in a legal and ethical manner.
Similarly, engineers and UX designers need to ensure privacy settings are baked into user experiences in a way that strikes a balance between protecting privacy and collecting enough information to provide the personalized recommendations consumers love.
“For example, iOS systems are now putting different burdens on apps that want to collect data,” explained Ñañez. “Now, we’re on a different path trying to understand how our users behave, and sometimes we have complaints from the user saying, ‘my experience is now less exceptional than it was before.’ If you have certain privacy settings on, we can’t read and see what we could before.”
#5 Soft skills: curiosity, communication and collaboration
While technical skills might get you the interview, soft skills will help you ace it and thrive in a new role. In the era of remote work, where people are inundated with meetings and pings, soft skills have never been more important to help candidates and team members stand out.
The top soft skills to lean into in 2023 include:
- Curiosity—always asking questions and trying to understand what information you have available to answer your questions is invaluable for technologists, whether you work in UX design or data analytics. For example, if you are designing a process for collecting customer data, you might question how different teams could use this information, which could lead you to collect different variables than you would have only thinking about it from a marketing perspective.
- Communication—being able to effectively convey your ideas or translate data into insights for a business audience will help propel your technical career. “Telling the story is as important as cracking the numbers,” said Ñañez.
- Collaboration—being a good collaborator has become increasingly important in the world of remote work. You need to be effective in virtual meetings, know how to connect with people across a variety of platforms and tools, and understand cultural and time zone nuances that come with the territory of working remotely. Plus, you need to do it all while connecting with your coworkers on a human level to build trust. In today’s tech careers, no one works in a silo. UX design, engineering and data professionals need to be in constant communication and collaboration.
Ready to dive into the top skills you need to land your dream job in 2023? Download our complete guide to breaking into tech and landing work you love.