Skill Sets to Help Move Your Career Forward
Perhaps like many of today's students and career seekers, I (Anne) was unsure of the exact career path I wanted to take. In college, I lucked out in the sense that I majored in mathematics. This was not a strategic move on my part, but rather simply happened because by the time I had decided on a major, my completed coursework made majoring in math the most feasible path. But having a math background really paid off since after graduation many more doors were open to me because of my quantitative/analytical background. Even if you consider yourself a "mathphobe", I encourage you to take some courses, earn a certificate degree or participate in free MOOCs that will help your resume stand out (or at least be competitive) in a job market increasingly favoring those with quantitative and technological skills. So where should you start? There are many ways to increase your skill set that will be valuable to future employers, so I would suggest you start with areas that sound most interesting to you and most pertinent to your desired career. Here are 3 areas whose importance is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
Having skills past your intro to statistics coursework can help you in almost every job. Statistics is highly useful, especially if you plan to go work in a field dealing with human behavior, because it offers a method to test hypotheses and describe data using science. Without the ability to apply more advanced statistical techniques, many job seekers lack the tools to conduct innovative and relevant research. Psychological research performed in government agencies, industry and academia may start with a great idea but this idea must be backed with a solid study design, effective data collection, and appropriate data analysis, combined with the means to analyze the data and interpret any findings. Some skills you can pick up that are likely to increase your demand according to the Association for Psychological Science are
- Advanced coursework in experimental design
- Structural equation modeling
- Multilevel modeling
- Item response theory
Perhaps in response to the phrase "big data" your brain shuts down at the thought of dealing with data much less big data. Like it or not, since the advent of the digital age, big data is all the rage and has applicability to nearly all sectors of the job market. Although what "big data" refers to is context dependent, in general, it refers to extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations. Psychology and big data go well together since a large fraction of big data is collected to predict and understand human behavior by collecting data on social media use, shopping habits, blog posts, browsing history, etc. Around 96 percent of the major corporations surveyed by KPMG in 2014 said they could do more with big data and make better use of analytics in their organization. What this means is that there is a large demand for people that know how to collect, manage and analyze big data. If you want to get involved in the big data craze, here are some good bets for skills that will make you marketable according to datanami.com
- Machine learning
- Database management skills
- Ability to use statistical tools like R, SAS, Matlab, SPSS, or Stata
The field of SEO concerns ways in which to increase a websites presence on the internet. In other words, people who specialize in SEO figure out ways to make a site appear in the top results in search pages (without the use of an ad placement). Psychology enthusiasts may show a keen ability for SEO. This is because at the heart of SEO is the ability to interpret the psycho-graphic profile (from keywords) of site visitors that reveals their needs, problems, and reasons for visiting a site. In other words, the essence of successful SEO is not keyword stuffing, but rather a careful understanding of human psychology. According to indeed.com,the amount of job postings for search engine optimization (SEO) specialists has quadrupled over the last five years. With this type of growth, skills concerning SEO will be in demand in the future. SEO requires an analytical mindset and knowledge of the internet and computers. Some of the most useful knowledge you can have for the field of SEO according to SEO expert Rand Fishkin
- Knowledge of how the internet works
- Solid knowledge of html and css
Has an improved skill set helped open employment doors for you? Let us know in the comments section.
Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.
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