Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

2019 is shaping up to be the year of the employee. With wages and benefits expected to increase, along with an influx of new positions offering flexible work environments, it's a good time to be a job candidate. But with more opportunities comes new challenges. According to US News and World Report's 2019 Job Forecast, employers are using new hiring tactics—from personality tests to machine learning assessment tools—to find candidates with the strongest hard and soft skill sets.

If your brain just did a double take, here's an explainer: Hard skills focus on technical, practical workplace knowledge—a proficiency in certain technical tools required for the job (anything from Quickbooks to Java). Soft skills, which are becoming increasingly more essential to the global workforce, tend to be more culture-focused—from communication and adaptability to an understanding of a company's core values.

Ariel Schur, CEO of ABS Staffing Solutions, tells US News and World Report that companies are "really delving into a deeper level of trying to discern their skill level and knowledge."

Janelle Gale, Facebook's vice president of human resources, echoes that sentiment. "We actually value skills over experience in the grand scheme of things," she tells CNBC. "Apply if you have the relevant skills even if you don't have the right experience, because we're looking underneath the surface for what's really going to matter here and that's what skills you can bring to the table."

So what skills do you need to land your dream job in 2019? According to LinkedIn's latest survey the top in-demand hard skills include UX design, people management, analytical reasoning, AI and cloud computing. The most sought-after soft skills are creativity, persuasion, adaptability, collaboration and time management.

So how do you cultivate the skills you need to land the job you want? You create your own educational program courtesy of the Internet. Here's your three step program.

Go the Head of the Class:

If you're looking to pump up your hard skills, look no further than your laptop. Online learning courses provide low-cost or no-cost courses and research resources on everything from AI to UX and beyond. Check out MockPlus' list of free online UX Design courses provided by professors from University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology and UCSD. Looking to tackle another hard skill? No problem. Sites like EDX and Coursera allow you to search from a database of hundreds of online university courses—from Architecture to Communication and Data Analysis. If you want to learn while you're commuting or working out, there's an app for that. iTunesU features hundreds of lectures from universities around the country so you can brush up on your hard skills for free, without taking too much time out from your busy schedule.

Hit the Books:

If you want to land a top paying gig, skills like analytical reasoning and people management are key. The good news is that the people who have mastered these skills are eager to pass them along. Check out How To Think: A Complete Guide to Analytical Thinking (free on Kindle Unlimited!). In it, Gary Lorrison, of the Oxford Center For the Mind, covers "all of the essential elements of good analytical thinking from different types of claims and beliefs, via argument structure, fallacies and cognitive biases to sound conclusions and consequences as well as how to compare arguments and the best state of mind to consider problems." When it comes to management skills, there are almost too many books to choose from, but Inc.com narrowed it down with this list of 15 books every new manager should read—from Brene Brown's Braving the Wilderness to Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Watch, Listen and Learn:

When it comes to learning those essential soft skills, mentorship can go a long way. In the digital age that means TedTalks and podcasts with leaders you most admire. If you're stumped by the mystery of creativity—especially creativity under pressure—Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert is here to help. From her life-changing TedTalk (seriously, it will blow your creative mind open) to her Magic Lessons podcast, she is the master of unblocking your brain and thinking big picture. With regards to communication skills, Julia Dhar's talk on How To Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground is a great place to start (in less than 15 minutes!). And don't forget David Pogue's 10 Top Time-Saving Tech Tips for time management insights. For more insights on both hard and soft skills from the masters, check out the TedTalks topic page or subscribe to some of the best career-oriented podcasts out there. Emma Gannon's CTRL ALT DELETE features interviews with thought leaders from every field on navigating career challenges in unexpected ways. The Accidental Creative explores creativity in the workplace and The School of Greatness examines how top leaders have overcome some of the toughest career obstacles.

In today's competitive workforce, it's not only crucial to have a skill set you can list on resume, but one you can prove in practice to your potential employer. Absorbing lessons and insights from the titans of every career field is bound to make you a more valuable employee. All you need is a pair of headphones and an open mind.

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