Workopolis surveyed hundreds of Canadian employers about their hiring intentions and challenges. One third (32%) told us that they plan to increase their staff in the next 12 months. However, the majority of these say that they are struggling to find the people they need to hire.

Here’s what Canadian employer interviews and analysis of online job posting trends reveal will be the keys to getting hired in 2016.

Work experience

The largest group of employers surveyed (38%) say that it is on-the-job-experience that most candidates are lacking. If you’re going to be looking for your very first job in 2016, think of ways that you can add some experience to your resume.

School internship or apprenticeship programs can give you a big boost on the job market. Volunteering and community work can also showcase real-world accomplishments.

Alternately, here is some advice on how to get hired for a job without experience (when no one will hire you with no experience.)

Soft skills

More than any one set of technical abilities, Canadian employers say that they are struggling to find candidates with the requisite soft or interpersonal skills to do the job. ‘Communications’ is the number one most frequently asked for skill in all job postings. Here’s a look at the top ten most frequently demanded skills in job ads:

  • Communication skills
  • Writing
  • Customer relations
  • Sales
  • Organizational skills
  • Microsoft office
  • Policy analysis
  • Supervisory skills/leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

Digital literacy

Keeping up with the trends and technologies of how people communicate and share information is also essential for career success. Once upon a time, reading and writing were considered the basic skills for most jobs. Digital literacy has become the new literacy.

Along with those soft skills we can see a high level of demand for digital literacy and computer skills. This is particularly true in the areas of document production, filing and sharing. Among the top skills sought after in Canadian job postings are the following collection:

  • Microsoft Office, Excel, Word, PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Works
  • Reports
  • Documentation
  • Computer use

Digital literacy is evolving to include more advanced computer skills as well, as among the hottest of the up-and-coming skill requirements appearing in job postings are coding and social media savvy.

Social media savvy

Social media skills are becoming essential for an increasingly wide range of roles beyond community managers, including Human Resources, Sales, Designers and Developers, and of course Marketing.

Even for those roles where you won’t directly use social media as a part of your job, your online presence is becoming increasingly important to employers. Workopolis surveyed over 300 Canadian employers about how they use social media to screen potential new hires. 63% of participants told us that they look up candidates online before making a hiring decision. This includes checking out their social media profiles.

When asked which profiles they are likely to check, respondents said:

  • LinkedIn 91%
  • Facebook 75%
  • Twitter 28%
  • Instagram 16%
  • Tumblr 3%

Employers also report considering it a red flag if they cannot find any trace of a candidate online. That is because in the era of internet connectivity and interactive communication that we live in, being off the grid can make a candidate appear to be out of date or technically unsavvy for not using the latest tools to market his or herself.

Here are the social media posts that have swayed employers for (and against) hiring candidates.

Also, your connections themselves are increasingly becoming credentials. If you have a strong social network, are well-connected and followed online, that can make you instantly more hireable. Why? Not only do these things demonstrate that you are computer literate, tech savvy, and a good communicator, but those connections are assets for potential employers.

If you are an engaged, positive member of the team who posts updates about your great work life and shares the occasional company message or update across your platform – those messages reach a greater audience because of your connectivity. This makes you a valuable brand ambassador for the company. Because people are much more likely to trust and share messages from someone they know, your friends and followers are an asset.

These are the skills and qualifications that will be on the top of employers’ wish lists for the coming year: real-world experience, communications and interpersonal skills, digital literacy, and online savvy.

Here are the exact skills you need to add to your resume to qualify for jobs in ten hot sectors.

Peter Harris
Peter Harris on Twitter