These Skills Will Boost Your Salary by 20 Percent

A new study also looks at the disconnect between recent college grads who think they are ready for the workforce and the hiring managers who disagree.

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By Carolyn Sun

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When it comes to skills that pay the bills, it's all about STEM-based skills. Knowing how to code will bring the biggest boost to your paycheck, according to recent report from PayScale, the world's largest online salary database.

Knowing how to program in Scala, Cisco and Go gets you the biggest salary bump of 22 percent, 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Worth noting is that two of these languages -- Scala and Go -- are emerging skills, or skills that have only been in demand for the past five years.

"STEM skills are continually becoming more important in our technology and data-driven economy," says Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale. "Even positions that didn't previously require any tech or data skills are starting to more and more, and making sure you arm yourself with these skills is a way to compete in today's labor market."

And if you're looking to get a promotion, the skills you need to get one differ at every pay grade. If you're at the C-Suite level (or aiming for it) and looking reach the next rung of the ladder, these are the most common skills: business management (21.8 percent), IT management (20.3 percent) and profit and loss management (16.8 percent).

For those at the director level, these are the most common skills among those promoted. Donor relations skills are at 20.2 percent, software development management is at 13.9 percent and senior financial management is at 12 percent.

For those training to be managers -- but aren't quite there yet -- the most common skills for promotion are training management (3.1 percent), property management (3 percent) and event management (2.7 percent).

Related: 5 Ways to Find Your Dream Job

Perceived competence gap

There is a major perception gap in competence between those who are recent college graduates and the managers who hire them. According to PayScale, 87 percent of workers feel well-prepared for their jobs upon graduation, whereas only 50 percent of managers feel employees who recently graduated are well prepared.

The gap in competence between those graduating college and those hiring can be attributed, at least in part, to "the increased dependence on technology and the recent Great Recession," says Bardaro. "The two factors has helped to widen the skills gap and worked together to make employers pickier about the talent they pull in and to make it harder for students (and schools) to have the ability to learn (teach) new technologies."

However, not all managers feel the same about recent college grads. Among them, it's millennial managers who have the most faith in the skills of recent college grads at 55 percent, followed by baby boomers at 48 percent and gen Xers at 47.

Related: Why More Than Half of Your Employees Are Looking for a New Job

Communication and problem-solving

With all the buzz about STEM and tech-based skills, those skills aren't what managers cite are most lacking among recent college grads. Data shows that 44 percent of managers feel that writing proficiency is lacking, along with critical thinking/problem-solving (60 percent) and public speaking (39 percent).

Related: 10 Tips for Finding the Best Career Fit In a Startup

The good news is that if you lack these skills, it doesn't doom you to a promotion-free career trajectory, says Bardaro. "[STEM and technology] skills are often ones you can learn while already in your career due to both the nature of these skills, and the prevalence of online coursework in these areas."

As for learning how to write a good email, learn the basics and practice. And there's always spell check.

Carolyn Sun

Carolyn Sun is a freelance writer for Find out more on Twitter and Facebook


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