How to qualify for jobs that pay $100,000 or more by improving your skills — without breaking the bank


The key to getting your next job may be just a few clicks away, and for less money than you probably realize. 

Beefing up your job skills can help you to transition to a new industry or advance your career in the same field you already work. While you'll need to take the time to actually master these skills, you can become more qualified to land a job that pays $100,000 or more.

Coding and Spanish-language skills are currently the most in-demand, according to a recent study by SHL, a human resources company. The programming language SQL was the most sought after skill in more than 116,000 job postings, followed by Python and Java, and the average salary for jobs requiring these coding skills was as much as $125,000, the study found. 

With the U.S. economy in a recession and more than 20 million Americans out of work, it's important to set yourself apart from other job seekers. Showcasing relevant and newly acquired skills can help, according to Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of global human resources for career site Indeed: "This is a great way for job seekers to show employers they have the skills a job requires even if their work history or educational background may not."

Learn or hone hard skills by taking a course

If you're looking to switch industries, it's important to have a good understanding of the technical skills necessary for your new, desired job. You may not have the time or money to obtain a degree, like an MBA, but there are other ways to show your determination to a potential recruiter, says Anita Kanti, a career coach and founder of Anita K Solutions

"I'm big into online certifications because sometimes they cover the road a little faster than traditional degrees," Kanti says, adding that you should highlight skills you're learning to optimize your online profile and resume. "That will show that you're taking the initiative to get the in-road to where you want to go professionally."

And good news: "There are great options that are more affordable online, and allow you to work faster and at your own pace," Kanti says.

She recommends the following resources to her clients:

  • Udemy. This website boasts more than 100,000 online video courses, covering a broad range of topics like accounting, business law, computer programming, and dog training. Cost: Several of the most popular courses currently start at $99.99.
  • LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda). There are more than 16,000 courses, ranging from topics like leadership, project management, and design on this hub. For example, there are nearly 1,000 courses on 3-D animation alone. Cost: The first month is free. After that, a monthly subscription with unlimited access costs $29.99 a month, or you can buy individual courses starting at $9.99 each.
  • Universities. You can take courses alongside other students online or through professional development workshops. Cost: Varies.
  • Your employer. Many companies offer free career development opportunities, like management training, to employees. Your employer could also cover the cost of college classes or other courses. Start with a conversation with your manager, after which exploring these types of opportunities can be a good way to develop more skills that may prepare you for another role at the company. Cost: Free.
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In addition, SHL rounded up a variety of resources — many of which are free — to target the skills necessary for high-paying jobs. These include: Free Code Camp for learning coding languages, Moz Beginner's Guide to SEO for people who working marketing, Skillshare, for careers in design, and Duolingo for learning a foreign language. 

Once you've gotten certified or completed coursework, update your resume and online profile. On both Indeed and LinkedIn, you can test your skills, and then showcase to potential employers that you've successfully completed these assessments. Doing so can increase your chances of getting hired by 30%, according to figures from LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn also has Continuing Education Units (CEUs) relevant for accountants, project managers, human resources professionals, information technology employees, and business analysts. "For many people who would typically get credit at in-person events, classes or conferences, they can now get credits online for a low cost," says Hari Srinivasan, vice president of product management for LinkedIn Learning.

There are great options that are more affordable online, and allow you to work faster and at your own pace.
Anita Kanti
career coach and founder of Anita K Solutions

Brush up on soft skills

While technical skills may get you past the robots that review resumes, many employers are looking for well-rounded applicants. That's why you may want to spend time working on so-called soft skills, too. 

Focusing on transferable skills that are in demand across industries is especially important for people looking to make a career or industry pivot, Srinivasan says.

When working with clients, Kanti recommends mastering the following skills: 

  • Excellent communication. Whatever level of your career, these are "imperative."
  • Collaboration. "Do you know what teamwork is about?"
  • Creativity. What is "the creative passion" that sets you apart?
  • Curious mindset. "If you're not curious, you can't solve problems."
  • Connection focused. Beyond meeting goals, employers want people "who are not shy to build new connections."

To improve these soft skills, Kanti suggests working with a friend, mentor or paying a career coach to get objective feedback. Try doing mock job interviews, or even have casual conversations about your past experience and career goals, to identify possible gaps, she adds. 

While you can highlight some of these skills on your resume, it's more necessary to embody them when interviewing or networking, Kanti says. "When given the opportunity to talk with a potential employer, verbalize and showcase that you have these skills."

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What's more, for no cost at all, you can find a plethora of resources online, including articles and tutorials, with advice for improving soft skills. While the current employment market may make for a frustrating time to job search, many companies have even more resources available now.

Indeed has created a free resource page with tools for job seekers affected by Covid-19, including tips for searching for jobs, video interview guides, resume building assistance, and live webinars. Similarly, LinkedIn Learning has 400-plus courses available for free on topics like staying efficient while working remotely, ways to stay motivated when job hunting, digital networking strategies, and recovering from a layoff.

Then: Get your online profile noticed

It's important to make sure you have a resume and online profile that gets noticed by recruiters. That can require a certain finesse. 

Keywords are important because many recruiters use LinkedIn recruiting to screen for potential candidates. And you can highlight other strengths, especially soft skills, by seeking out recommendations from former colleagues, managers, or even friends.

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Signaling to potential employers that you're actively job hunting also is important. On LinkedIn, there's a setting that allows you to let recruiters know that you're open to job opportunities. 

Meanwhile, on Indeed, you can add the hashtag #readytowork to your profile to increase your visibility, Wolfe says. "Employers who are looking to urgently fill roles can search for the candidates who have added this tag to their resume."

Finally, don't assume that learning new skills is only relevant to people who are actively job seeking. "Ongoing learning helps ensure your skills stay sharp, and gets you prepared for your future career," says Srinivasan of LinkedIn. "Investing in skills will pay off as we all continue to adjust to new working environments, and can also help you at work in the long run."

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