Why “Micro-Learning” is the New Diploma For Today’s Jobseekers

Opinion

You’d be hard-pressed to find a workplace today where using technology isn’t an integral part of the job, whether it’s an AI-powered recruiting tool, special coding software for app development, or even just Google Sheets that help workers keep track of budgets.

Whether you’re applying for a position in marketing or in the field of medicine, the ability to effectively interact with technology is crucial. There is no such thing as a traditional company anymore, as almost every organization harnesses technology in some way, shape, or form.

There’s an ever-expanding range of technology in the workplace, and everyone from teachers to lawyers will need to have, at the very least, basic tech skills. So when companies are looking to fill a position, candidates with tech skills often have a leg up in the job search.

While a diploma was once enough to land a coveted position at most companies, today’s job market is increasingly competitive. Job-seekers are filling their resumés with General Assembly certifications, Udacity courses, social media experience, and Microsoft Office Certifications.

A recent study found that roughly half the jobs in the top income quartile often require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill. Being social media-savvy is equally important. One-quarter of hiring managers expect candidates to have some sort of online presence. This shift of focus, from a college degree as a standalone qualification to the certified mastery of specific skills, is changing the way people search for jobs—and the way companies recruit.

More and more colleges and universities are starting to realize the importance of tech skills. They are adding computer science programs and subject matter-driven tech courses like marketing tech to the curriculum. Some schools are even going as far as introducing social media MBAs.

Studies have shown that 40 percent of schools now teach computer programming, a step in the right direction, but still far from enough. For people who didn’t have the opportunity to ramp up their tech skills in college, boot camps and technology-related MOOCs (massive open online courses) have been popping up across the country. In 2017 alone, coding schools graduated over 22,000 students, while around 23 million new learners signed up for their first MOOCs. These programs offer job seekers opportunities to build up their resumés in their current occupations, or to switch fields altogether.

Companies across the country have also bought into the continuous learning trend, offering employees stipends for educational programs, hosting their own company trainings, or even offering tuition reimbursement for student loans.

Chipotle recently partnered with Guild Education to reimburse employees who take online classes or programs, while JetBlue has a scholars program that allows employees to take online courses. Even tech giants like Google are getting involved, with the recent release of “Learn with Google AI,” where employees and non-employees alike can learn the basics of artificial intelligence through a set of tutorials. This focus on continually learning and honing skills is increasingly permeating corporate culture.

It’s clear that people are interested in continuous learning, whether it’s by participating in tech boot camps, honing their Google AdWords skills, or taking online courses. This pervasive updating of skills among the job candidate pool makes these types of programs crucial to success in future careers.

Employees are figuring out how to structure and document what they’re learning outside of work to make themselves more valuable employees and more attractive hires. This trend has been simmering for a while, but in 2018 it has become mainstream. The future of work is changing almost as fast as technology is advancing, so the tools and technology being utilized in jobs today could be obsolete by the time the graduates of 2025 enter the workforce. The only way to stay competitive, no matter what field you’re in, is to learn continuously. A college degree is necessary, but not sufficient—and in the future may become even less relevant.

For all those job seekers out there, from upcoming college grads to people looking to change industries, to workers looking for a promotion, my advice to you? Keep learning. Whether you’re looking for a job in marketing, software engineering, or finance, having skills beyond a diploma will help you stand out and make your resumé more likely to get selected from an increasingly growing stack. An estimated 1.8 million students will graduate from college in 2018 alone. Learning is a lifelong process, not a four-year endeavor. Job seekers who have embraced that ethos will be miles ahead when looking for their next position.

Matthew Glotzbach is the CEO of San Francisco-based learning tools company Quizlet. He joined Quizlet after 12 years at Google, where he was most recently VP Product Management at YouTube. Follow @mglotzbach

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