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‘Slashies’: The Future of Job Descriptions

Topics: Career Advice
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If you’ve looked for work lately, chances are you that you’ve seen a lot of “slashies,” or hybrid job roles. Think executive assistant/office manager or receptionist/admin. The upside for employers is pretty clear: instead of hiring for one job function, which may not actually require full-time hours, hybrid jobs allow them to fill two roles at once. Ideally, this saves money and increases efficiency.

The surprise for job seekers is that getting hired for these hybrid roles might work out in their favor as well. Why? In short, some traditional non-hybrid job roles may be going away, absorbed into other functions.

Labor market analysis from Bentley University examined 24.5 million U.S. company job listings from September 2014 to August 2015, and found that 71 percent of in-demand job skills spanned at least two categories. Further:

The market data proved that some previously popular jobs are in decline as their once-innovative skills have become mainstream and integrated into other roles. For example, postings for social media strategists have fallen 64 percent in the last five years, even as the skill of social media strategy has risen sharply in human resource jobs (up 376 percent), sales jobs (up 150 percent), and marketing and PR jobs (up 117 percent).

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In other words, hybrid job roles are coming, whether you like them or not. Prepare yourself accordingly, and you’ll stand a better chance both of getting hired … and making sure you’re not signing up to do two full-time jobs at one salary.

To Get Hired, Focus on Combining Hard and Soft Skills

“Based on the data analysis, now is the time for the hybrid job – and the hybrid employee,” said Bentley University President Gloria Larson when the report was released. “The successful employee of tomorrow will need to combine traditional soft skills such as communication and collaboration with the hard, technical skills that used to belong to a select tech-savvy group.”

That means not only looking for your personal skills gaps and filling them, but rejecting false dichotomies like the “math person” vs. “liberal arts person” ideas many of us adopted during our early education. In the future, everyone will have to be creative and everyone will have to embrace STEM. A good scientist must be able to communicate their findings, while a successful artist will be comfortable with the software that’s required in their particular job.

“The best preparation for the changing job market begins in higher education and calls for a combination of professional courses with arts and sciences,” Larson told Fast Company. “This gives graduates a distinctive edge as employers today want candidates with practical, analytical skills embedded in a liberal arts education.”

To Get Paid Appropriately, Find Out How the Employer Benchmarks the Role

Let’s be real: it’s pretty rare for any combination-thing to be a straight 50/50 split down the middle. They call them “peanut butter cups” and not “chocolate-peanut butter cups” for a reason. In your new role, you’ll likely have one job that takes precedence, either in importance or in time allocation.

No matter how the role is divided, you need to know it. Why? Because your salary range should be based on both jobs. Employers benchmark hybrid jobs in a few different ways. Some employers will go with the highest paying role, while others will match compensation to the role the worker performs most often. But most employers blend market data, which means that you’ll need to set your salary range based on combining the roles. (And you need to come to the table with a salary range, even if you hope to get the hiring manager to name her price first. Otherwise, you run the risk of taking a lowball offer, because you don’t know any better.)

To get your salary range, you can take the free PayScale Salary Survey twice, one for each role, and then determine your salary request according to the job role’s breakdown – taking, for example, 40 percent of the salary range based on one salary report, and 60 percent of the other.

Of course, you can’t exactly ask the hiring manager, “Hey, which one of these jobs is the real job, anyway?” and expect to get a call back. Instead, ask them for a rough estimate of how much time each role will take. If they say it’s a true split, take them at their word and do your private salary research accordingly. But keep up with salaries for both roles, in case the position evolves before your next review.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you a slashy? Are you working in a hybrid role? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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