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Job searches reveal top skills for tech positions

A new report by jobs site Indeed shows skills in JavaScript library React are becoming critical to land jobs. Also important is cloud computing know-how.

Job hunters who know the ins and outs of Amazon Web Services, Amazon's cloud computing platform, have pretty bright prospects, according to new research by jobs website Indeed.com. So do those with Microsoft Azure skills.

People who can use the JavaScript library React are golden.

The report, published Wednesday, highlighted 15 IT skills that job seekers are betting will land them high-paying tech positions -- and that employers want new hires to come equipped with.

The skills were culled from terms typed into the site's search browser by job hunters and then matched against what terms employers looked for when combing through Indeed's resume database.

React, a popular collection of JavaScript resources for building web UIs, was by far the most searched-for term, with a 313% increase in job seeker interest from October 2016 to September 2017 when compared with the same period a year earlier. A lot more employers were using the term to find new employees, too, with a 229% increase.

"React is becoming something that's more crucial to the job search," said Indeed economist Daniel Culbertson, who spearheaded the research. The JavaScript library is managed primarily by social media site Facebook, which he said bolsters its popularity. "It's becoming a part of the job for more and more companies."

A distant No. 2 was the term Amazon Web Services -- the top-selling cloud infrastructure service -- showing a 98% increase in interest among job seekers and a 40% jump among employers. No. 3 was Microsoft's cloud service, Azure, with the number of job hunters using the term to search for tech positions rising 51% and employers 62%.

Search terms equal IT skills

Despite the gap between No. 1 React and the runners-up, AWS and Azure still grew by "leaps and bounds," the report read, and the high rankings show the importance of cloud computing in the job market today.

"Cloud is gaining because businesses of all stripes are boosting their use of off-site computing and storage -- and that's making experienced cloud developers a must-have for many employers," the report continued.

Other search terms on the list were Angular -- or properly AngularJS, a Google-managed open source web application framework -- Tableau, data visualization software; Spark, a data analytics engine; and programming language Python.

Culbertson based the report on search terms because the names of the numerous platforms and programming languages in technology can be easily classified as skills since "they're very integral to jobs." When users visit Indeed, they type in search terms that describe the skills they want to take with them to a new job.  

For the research, Culbertson looked at the activity of people searching for tech positions, then examined the searches that got them to the search results page. Then he whittled down the list of terms and classified them as skills.

"We wanted to see which of these tech skills are becoming more important to the job search, based on job search activity," Culbertson said. "We thought this could serve as a barometer for how important these skills are becoming in general in the tech industry."

Indeed doesn't give out exact numbers of searches on terms or jobs people subsequently click on, Culbertson said. But with the site bringing in 200 million visitors a month, breaking down to millions of searches each day -- and with technology becoming a more important part of the labor market -- searches for tech positions is "a rather high volume," he said.

The new language of tech?

One unexpected item in the list of tech job search terms was Mandarin, as in the primary language spoken in China, Culbertson said. There was a 49% increase in job-hunter interest in the use of the term.

"This isn't necessarily a tech skill, but you could classify a language as a skill," Culbertson said. "And I think it speaks to the fact that China is the second-biggest economy in the world."

And it represents the impact China and its citizens, who are studying at U.S. universities in high numbers, are having on the U.S. technology industry, he said. Popular job postings people clicked on after searching on Mandarin as a keyword were product developers, language analysts and customer support specialists, the report read.

But employer interest in Mandarin as a search term was down 39%. It's too early to determine a reason for the dip, Culbertson said, but it's worth keeping an eye on in the future.

"My assumption is that this would be employers who are looking for people with Mandarin skills because of the amount of business that they do with China," he said. "But it's tough to say what would be behind the decline from this year to last year."

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