Career Transition

Profit From the Skills Gap with YOUR Talents

skills gap

If you’re not a technology pro, most articles about the skills gap probably leave you with the sinking feeling you learned the wrong things in school.

But don’t let it get to you. Many people don’t realize that there are thousands of employers hungry for skills that have nothing to do with IT, too.

Consider this: Recent research from PayScale, a provider of cloud-based compensation software, found that half of employers currently face a lack of qualified applicants for the positions they are advertising.

Some of those jobs are, as you might expect, in IT, where 22% of employers said they had positions open for six months or more, and engineering, where 19% said they did. But 19% of employers surveyed said they couldn’t fill management jobs, an area where you may well have strong skills even if you didn’t go to MIT.

So how do you, as a job hunter, identify opportunities where you can potentially fill a skills gap at a particular company—and potentially negotiate for higher pay? Here are some ideas you can try today.

Understand where people with your degree are being hired. LinkedIn has a nifty new tool called the Field of Study Explorer, where you can enter your degree and see which companies have hired LinkedIn members with that credential. When I entered English language and literature, my major, I was surprised to see that IBM was the top employer for folks who share that BA with me. That was followed by Hewlett-Packard and Accenture. The largest group work in media and communication but that is followed by education, sales, and operations. You may be similarly surprised at which companies and disciplines may need people with your particular expertise.

Keep your eye on mid-sized firms. According to PayScale’s data, middle-sized companies are experiencing the fastest growth in hiring. In 2014, 59% experienced growth, compared to 56% of larger companies and 52% of smaller ones. When companies are growing by leaps, they’re likely to exhaust the talent pool in your geographic area quickly.

Know which industries are the most flexible. If employers are having a hard time filling certain jobs, they may be more open to hiring people who have related skills and can easily be trained to apply them in a new industry. According to LinkedIn’s research, the top five industries most open to hiring people from other fields are:

  • Internet (11.8% of 2014 hires came from another field)
  • Venture capital and private equity (11.1%)
  • Computer and network security (10.6%)
  • Online media (9.9%)
  • Staffing and recruiting (9.4%)

The upshot? Even if there’s an abundance of people with your skills in your current industry, there may be a gap in another field where what you know is less common among employees. Why not make the most of it?

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specializes in writing about entrepreneurship and careers. She was a senior editor for Fortune Small Business magazine, and her work has appeared in Fortune, Money,, Inc. and Crain's New York Business, among others.