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  • Anne Fisher

'Hybrid jobs' are on the rise. This is how you can prepare

If you’ve been looking around for a new job lately, and especially if you’ve been working in your field for a decade or two, you may have noticed that more and more companies are looking for combinations of skills that aren’t usually found on the same resume—and may, until now, even have been thought of as opposites. Marketing roles call for expertise in statistical analysis; software engineers and IT project managers are supposed to bring creativity, visual design, and “soft” skills like teamwork with them; and moving up in sales takes expertise in CRM software.

What’s going on?

Welcome to the era of the “hybrid” job. Technology is reshaping the way work gets done in more than 250 occupations, according to a report from workforce analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, drawn from its database of more than 1 billion current and historical job postings. The trend toward more complex, multi-skilled jobs isn’t new—Burning Glass first started tracking it in 2015—but it’s speeding up. The study projects that hybrid jobs will grow by 21% over the next decade, more than twice the 10% growth rate of the job market overall.

One example of hybridization: Mobile app developers, whose job didn’t even exist until the first smartphones came along a decade ago, might seem at a glance to require, like other software developers, mostly great coding skills. But no. Designing mobile apps takes knowledge of programming, of course—but also user interface design, content, and marketing.

Or take data analysis. In 2010, the Burning Glass study says, there were only 150 job openings for people adept at applying statistics to business problems, and most of those were on Wall Street. In 2018, by contrast, more than 1.7 million job postings, across every every conceivable industry, asked for data science skills.

For people trying to plan a career in the throes of constant change (that is, most of us), the rise of hybrid jobs is terrific in two ways. First, the more unusual combinations of skills employers need, the fewer qualified candidates they can find. “Recruiters call them ‘purple squirrels’,” notes Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass. To snare these scarce creatures, employers are willing to pay a premium—often a big one. Marketing managers with expertise in data analysis, for instance, often earn 40% more than those without it.

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