The modern world runs on technology. People are always connected to one another through their smartphones, and most businesses couldn't function without the devices and the software that they use every day. It's no surprise, then, that tech is one of the fastest-growing fields for job seekers.
Industry experts shared a few of today's most in-demand tech jobs, and what candidates should do to stand out from the competition.
What they do: When they're caught up in day-to-day meetings and decision making, business executives may not always be able to see the "big picture" for every single one of the company's operations. A business analyst can help by playing the observer. This person looks at the way a business is run, from project management to the specific software and systems everyone uses. From there, the analyst identifies problems or inefficiencies, and recommends solutions to streamline business processes.
Most-wanted practical skills: In addition to top-notch analysis and problem-solving skills, business analysts need competencies in certain software and methodologies specific to their industry, such as SCRUM, Agile, UML software, etc., said Peter Chen, director of data science at analytics company Algebraix Data. [The Best Tech Skills to List on Your Resume]
What they do: Data is essential to many companies' operations and strategic planning, but there's often too much of it for the average employee to make sense of. That's why organizations are looking for individuals whose sole job is to work with data — gathering it, organizing it, analyzing it and making recommendations based on the results.
Most-wanted practical skills: The majority of data scientists have master's degrees, Chen said, so hiring managers are looking for a candidate who's highly educated. He also noted that this position requires strong coding experience in data science-oriented languages (e.g., R and Python), and skills with mathematical and statistical modeling.
What they do: Development operations, better known as DevOps, covers a wide range of IT-related areas. Software engineering, network infrastructure, system administration and other technology operations all converge here, with DevOps teams collaborating across departments to meet an organization's tech needs.
Most-wanted practical skills: The required skills will vary depending on your specific job function, but in general, DevOps professionals need to have a knowledge of coding/scripting and programming. Sarah Lahav, CEO of IT software provider SysAid Technologies, added that DevOps professionals must understand cloud providers and the range of services they provide.
"For example, Amazon and Azure offer a handful of services related to security backup integration and saving costs on infrastructure," she told Business News Daily. "This knowledge is crucial when hiring an effective DevOps person."
IT support technician
What they do: Whether they're a support specialist or a systems/network engineer, IT technicians are in high demand. Most midsize and larger companies have at least one full-time IT professional on staff to troubleshoot computer and network issues, set up software and hardware, and keep an organization's technologies running smoothly.
Most-wanted practical skills: Amy Justis, president of IT consulting firm CMIT Solutions, said her company looks for job candidates with strong technical skills in the areas of security, networks, cloud solutions and end-user support.
"We want someone who can troubleshoot a problem, whether they conduct a Web search or seek out another source," Justis said. "In the interview, we encourage candidates to recall an instance when they were required to troubleshoot a technical issue. We pay close attention to how they resolved the problem and what steps they took along the way."
Justis also noted that the ideal candidate has both technical and communication skills, so he or she can articulate issues in terms clients can understand.
Mobile application developer
What they do: As the name implies, this job involves bringing mobile apps to life. App developers design and create applications using code. This also includes testing and fixing any bugs in the app that may be discovered along the way.
Most-wanted practical skills: Previous work in app development is, of course, a prerequisite, but to catch a hiring manager's eye, you may need to demonstrate a wider range of skills. Lahav said applicants should have knowledge of and experience within the developer environment for multiple platforms.
User interface designer
What they do: User-interface (UI) designers are the ones who make sure anyone who uses an app, website or software program has a great experience. The job involves a laser focus on what end users really want, and in today's world of mobile convenience, that often means clean, simple and seamless.
Most-wanted practical skills: Leela Srinivasan, CMO of Lever applicant tracking system, said UI is all about embodying true "design thinking." Candidates need to demonstrate empathy, be passionate about walking in the shoes of extreme users, and take the time to innovate, rather than rushing to solutions.
"Your body of [UI design] work is critical, but be prepared to delve into your thought process and the decisions you personally drove," Srinivasan said.
Advice for tech job seekers
No matter what type of position you're looking for, there are a few job-searching basics that can help you land the role of your dreams. Here's what our sources recommended for anyone seeking to advance their tech career.
Never stop learning. Employers want to see that you're continually honing your skills. Chen advised staying up to date with both your hard skill sets to get you in the door with your credentials, and soft skill sets to help you rise to a higher level of management. Justis agreed, and advised candidates to earn as many technical certifications as possible.
Keep up with technology changes. Familiarity with new and emerging technologies will show employers that you're ahead of the game, and will be prepared to tackle any challenges and trends you may encounter.
"The tech industry is constantly evolving and introducing new tools, technologies and solutions on a daily basis," Lahav said. "You need to be up to date on all things tech related, and implement new ideas to further grow the organization and [tech] industry as a whole."
Ask great questions (and give great answers). When you get to the interview phase, Srinivasan emphasized the importance of being genuine, humble and insightful with your questions and responses.
"Ask thoughtful questions and have a good, authentic answer for, 'Why company XYZ?'" she said. "Keep your culture radar on throughout — you're going to be spending a lot of quality time with your new colleagues, and you'll be more motivated to do the work in the right environment."