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If you’re looking for a job in IT, you’re going to want to brush up on your skills. There’s a lot of competition out there, and if you want to land a top IT job, you need to stand out from the crowd. But what do you need to grab employers’ attention?

These 5 skills are some of the most valuable for IT job seekers. If you have more than one of these on your resume, you’re in good shape. If you have most or all of them, you’ll be a top candidate.

1. Programming

This is a big one for almost all IT fields; if you’re proficient in a commonly used language like Java, Python, Ruby, or PHP, you’ll have a leg up on other applicants.

Of course, the languages that will be most valuable in your field depend on exactly what you’re doing.

If you’re working with databases, for example, PHP is going to be very valuable. Python is commonly used in data analysis. Swift is built specifically for iOS apps. And so on.

It’s good to keep this mind if you’re looking to improve your skills before hitting the job market. Because there are so many different coding languages and technologies out there, you’ll need to focus on one or a few that will be most valuable to you.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert. If you have even some familiarity with coding, you’ll have a leg up on the IT professionals don’t. Of course, if your position involves a lot of coding, you’ll need to be very proficient.

But if you aren’t planning on becoming a programmer, then having even a passing knowledge of coding can help you stand out from other job candidates.

2. Data Science and Analytics

The collection and analysis of data is becoming increasingly important in the business world.

Predictive analytics, data science, web analytics, and other data-focused skills are in high demand, and the demand isn’t slowing down—as long as these skills help companies earn more money, they’ll always be valuable.

This area of expertise, like coding, covers a wide range of different abilities. For example, data science can include skills like programming in R, statistics, machine learning, and data visualization. Web analytics professionals are likely familiar with several different analytics platforms, statistics, data visualization, business processes, and even web content principles.

With such a wide variety of requirements, it might seem like you’ll never have a chance without a strong background in math and coding, especially when you’re up against experienced data scientists. But it’s important to remember that many jobs don’t receive perfect applicants; and if you check even one more box than another applicant, you might be given preference.

3. Excel

Most companies generate huge amounts of information, and much of it ends up in spreadsheets. Businesses need to take that data, organize it, and generate useful insights to guide decision-making.

And while there are other spreadsheet apps out there, the Microsoft Office Suite is still extremely common in the business world, and Excel is the go-to tool for analyzing data. Google Sheets is great, but it just can’t offer the same power.

But most people only have a vague idea of how to tap into that power. If you can slice and dice data with pivot tables, analyze data with regression, and generate useful reports, you’re going to have a huge advantage over those who can’t.

Like the other skills on this list for IT job seekers, Excel mastery is something that you can learn on the job, but if you can bring even a cursory knowledge to a job application, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

4. SaaS and Cloud Computing

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the foundational business model of many companies that are hiring IT talent. And those companies need IT professionals who can work in the cloud. Understanding how to get the most out of AWS, RackSpace, and other big hosting groups is a valuable skill in this economy.

Experts in SaaS and cloud computing will know how to work with databases, be able to code in the languages commonly used in the cloud, be comfortable using Linux, and understand the basics of DevOps. All of these (and a lot more) go into building and distributing apps via the cloud.

Even non-SaaS companies need cloud computing expertise. More and more computing functions are being offloaded to cloud servers, and IT professionals that can help companies do that efficiently offer valuable skills.

On a related note, cybersecurity knowledge is very valuable in cloud computing—but it’s also in demand in other areas, as well. With more high-profile data breaches happening all the time, companies are getting serious about protecting user data. And if it’s stored in the cloud (which it often is), the risks are even higher.

5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI isn’t just used for programming robots. One of its core functions is to look at data and extract patterns that a human operator might not see—and the machine learning algorithms behind this behavior are becoming more powerful all the time.

These skills for IT job seekers —which cover coding, statistics, data modeling, software engineering, and more—are especially in demand at higher levels, where companies would like to bring in leaders that understand how to leverage these ideas.

But any IT professional that has experience and knowledge in this area will be valuable. If you have experience creating and implementing machine learning systems, you’ll stand out even more.

How to Get These Skills

“This is great,” you might be thinking, “but how do I get these skills?”.

One of the best ways to start building your IT skills is to take online courses. There are lots of options for online coding education, and Excel, cloud computing, statistics, machine learning, and myriad other skills are being taught online.

It’s just a matter of finding a reputable program for IT job seekers. And if you can afford to spend the time and money on an intensive boot camp for these skills, you’ll come away with an even stronger credential. No matter how you decide to start building your skills, commit to it and start learning today!

Written By
Kasper Langmann is the co-founder of Spreadsheeto and self-proclaimed Excel-geek. Each month Spreadsheeto helps thousands of people make sense of Excel. If you would like to learn Excel once and for all, head over to Spreadsheeto

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