We are in the midst of an era of major technological change. New technologies \u2013 and the end user habits they impact \u2013 consistently generate new opportunities and challenges for businesses, governments and everyday consumers. But through these ongoing innovation and adoption cycles, one facet of the IT industry holds steady: the employment skills gap.\nAccording to a recent CompTIA analysis, 91 percent of IT hiring managers in the U.S. indicate some degree of gaps between the skills their organizations demand and those that their employees possess. This persistent issue can be attributed to the rapid change inherent in the industry. Organizations need professionals well versed not only in foundational concepts like infrastructure, networking and the cloud, but also more niche and emerging subject matter such as data visualization, responsive design and cognitive computing.\nFor job seekers with the right qualifications, the future is bright. In 2015 alone, U.S. technology employment hit 6.7 million, achieving its highest year-over-year growth rate in more than a decade. Landing an IT role and developing a long-term career path, however, starts with having relevant, adaptable skillsets \u2013 both technical and business-centric.\nHere are four vital areas where new and seasoned IT job candidates should develop their skills, to thrive in the industry today:\n1. Interpersonal communication\nThe more technology penetrates all functions within an organization, the more important it is for IT professionals to take on business-centric work \u2013 and partner effectively with non-technical colleagues. Fifty-six percent of IT hiring managers report that a top business priority for their organizations in 2016 is to leverage technology to improve operations. Being fluent in multiple programming languages, or having years of experience in identity management, isn\u2019t all candidates should flaunt during the IT interview process. Hiring managers are looking for proof that you can network, navigate a team structure and collaborate with people who have different backgrounds than your own. Don\u2019t hesitate to showcase prior extracurricular activities or non-IT positions that highlight your interpersonal competency.\n2. Industry focus\nHaving specialized training and experience in one IT niche \u2013 be it app development, security or server management \u2013 makes you a more marketable job candidate. But increasingly, employers are looking for IT professionals that bring both technical and industry concentrations to the table. Almost all verticals today have unique technical needs and challenges to overcome. For financial services organizations, everything from trade surveillance to SEC compliance requires robust IT support. In healthcare, the shift toward electronic health records, paired with new HIPAA requirements, have created an enormous need for IT leaders who can balance large technology deployments and change management responsibilities alike.\n3. Legal and regulatory compliance knowledge\nAs organizations contend with growing amounts of sensitive data, the connection between IT and risk management is harder to ignore. Consequently, half of IT hiring managers say working knowledge of compliance standards and regulations is a key security skill they look for in applicants. Recent events from the encryption battle between Apple and the FBI, to the aftermath of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, illustrate how corporate legal issues are no longer isolated to general counsel. Employers of all sizes need IT professionals who understand the policy implications of data handling, device use and software as well as the technical details.\n4. Hardware deployment and security\nWithin the broad realm of IT support responsibilities, hardware and software deployment is considered a vital skill (according to 71 percent of hiring managers), followed closely by troubleshooting, repair and incident management. The expanding diversity of hardware \u2013 from PCs and hybrid tablets to wearables and Internet of Things-enabling sensors \u2013 has imbued hardware skills with tremendous workplace cachet. Every new end user device that enters the market, and every new household item that becomes Internet-enabled, presents another endpoint that needs robust support.\nThe idea of an IT career is more diverse than ever before. There is no single, standardized skill set or job history that sets professionals up for a successful path in the field. The perpetual transformation of technology has created opportunities for candidates with varied experience, academic backgrounds and passions.\nEmployers need qualified IT talent in many forms. By honing their skills in alignment with employers\u2019 demand, IT professionals will not only land the job, but make themselves indispensable to their organizations.