Are LinkedIn Groups Worth Your Valuable Time?

It's been rumored for more than a year that LinkedIn Groups are going away.

Well, that rumor has been squashed, at least in the short term, by LinkedIn this week. Some people, including me, received a direct LinkedIn message from people in LinkedIn's Product Marketing Department that started out like this:

"We’re currently working on making some changes to the LinkedIn Groups experience, and because you are an expert user, we wanted to give you some advance details on what’s coming. Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another, and the changes we’re planning will make Groups a bigger part of the main LinkedIn experience."

*The entire message and also a subsequent message that includes additional details are printed at the bottom of this article.

I am cautiously optimistic about this announcement. But in typical LinkedIn fashion, these changes will be rolled out over the coming months. Therefore, it may take a while for all of us to see the impact of these changes.

That being said, I still think the idea of like-minded individuals virtually hanging out with each other (the premise of LinkedIn Groups) is a winning idea. Therefore, let's review some of the best practices relating to groups.
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How to find information about the groups you're currently in

Click the Work tab on your top LinkedIn toolbar and then select Groups. You will then be taken to what I refer to as your LinkedIn Groups home page, which includes loads of information about your current groups, including:
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  • Today's highlights
  • Your most active groups
  • Listing of your current groups (under My Groups tab)
  • Suggested groups you may want to join (under Discover tab)
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How to find additional groups that are right for you

LinkedIn currently has over three million groups, and you can join up to 100 at any one time. Here are some of the ways to uncover the best places to hang out.

1. In your top toolbar, use specific keywords in the search box. When the results are returned, click Groups in the sub-tab. Here are some ideas of the kinds of searches you may want to try:
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  • Schools you have attended
  • Associations and groups you belong to
  • Your city, state or region
  • Your industry
  • Your customers' industry (this is often an overlooked opportunity)
  • Your hobbies or outside interests
  • Certifications you have earned
  • Types of software or other tools you use in your job
  • Events you've attended or will be attending

2. Review the groups listed on the bottom of the profile of any person you're already hanging out with or would like to hang out with.


Do's and don'ts of LinkedIn groups

After you've found the best places to hang out, it's time to get involved.

Each group has a different feel or culture, and it will be pretty obvious what type of activity is appropriate. However, here are some general do’s and don'ts to help improve your effectiveness when hanging out in groups.

Do this in your groups
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  • Get involved in discussions where the right folks are talking about the right topics. Of course, you'll need to have expertise that will add value to the discussion. Also, consider sharing a link to a place where they can get more information on the topic being discussed.
  • Invite fellow group members to join your network. If they're a particularly good target, mention in your invitation that you're in the same LinkedIn group or refer to a comment they made in a group discussion.
  •  If you're looking for employment, check out the group's Jobs tab.
  • Start your own discussion, and be sure to follow the ongoing conversation. Before starting a discussion, however, check out the group's rules, because some group managers have specifically outlawed links to your website or other things they feel are too self-promotional.
  • Suggest taking the conversation offline when it’s appropriate.
  • Send direct messages to members and share helpful information and/or resources.

Don’t do this in your groups
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  • Spend most of your time in group discussions selling your products and services.
  • Share any confidential information.
  • Make hurtful, personal or overly negative comments in the discussions.
  • Think that you have to get the daily or weekly LinkedIn email notifications regarding all the activities in all 100 groups you are in. This will be overwhelming. Pick a few of your best groups, and follow those. Check the others out when you have some extra time.
  • Think less of group members who have decided they don’t want to receive direct messages from other group members.
  • Hesitate to end your membership in a group if you feel you're not getting any results. There are usually several groups in the same space. Find a new one that's a better fit for you.

Groups are a great way to start and grow new relationships that can lead to mutually beneficial business opportunities. I hope you'll use these ideas and the new optimism about LinkedIn groups to explore ways that groups can enhance your business and career.
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Complete messages from LinkedIn about the future of LinkedIn Groups

January 14, 2018

Integrating Groups into the main LinkedIn experience

Wayne,

We’re currently working on making some changes to the LinkedIn Groups experience, and because you are an expert user, we wanted to give you some advance details on what’s coming. Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another, and the changes we’re planning will make Groups a bigger part of the main LinkedIn experience.

Our focus on re-integrating Groups back into the core LinkedIn experience means that we will no longer be able to support a standalone iOS app for Groups; that app will stop working as of February 15, 2018. But please know that your existing group memberships and contributions will not be affected as part of that change.

As a preview, here are some of the improvements you can look forward to when we roll them out to the main LinkedIn Groups web and mobile experience:

- Easier access to Groups right from the homepage, with the ability to see the latest content through the homepage feed and notifications.

- Better conversation tools, including the ability to post videos, @mention the members you want to weigh in, and reply to comments to keep the conversation going.

Ultimately, our goal is to create an even better Groups experience within the primary LinkedIn applications, so we are putting our focus there over the coming weeks and months. We'll be sending you updates as these improvements and many others become available. Stay tuned!
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January 23, 2018

Rolling out new notifications for Groups

Following up on my prior note about the improvements to LinkedIn Groups. The notifications we mentioned have started rolling out!

You'll begin seeing notifications for social activities on your group posts, including likes, comments, and @mentions, and for membership activities, such as group invitations. These real-time alerts of groups' activities will be available directly on the LinkedIn website and LinkedIn mobile apps. To learn more about how to access your notifications and update your preferences, visit https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/76636/managing-your-linkedin-notification-updates?lang=en.

We'll be sure to keep you in the loop when the full set of notifications and other improvements become available!

The post Are LinkedIn Groups Worth Your Valuable Time? appeared first on Wayne Breitbarth.

What You Need to Know About Interviewing in 2018

The job market is changing and the interview process is changing right along with it. More than ever, companies are on the hunt for employees with stellar soft skills, but they’re struggling to find them. In fact, more than 60% of recruiters indicated that soft skills don’t always come across during the interview process. We spoke to thousands of recruiters and hiring managers around the world to get the download on how they’re screening candidates in this new professional landscape. We all...

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How to Have Productive Career Conversations

Almost 90% of professionals say success isn't just about what you accomplish, it's about what you inspire others to do, according to a recent LinkedIn study.   And if you're looking for an opportunity to help inspire others, look no further than your own backyard. In fact, there are over 100,000 underserved youth in cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta alone -- these are people who want support and guidance when it comes to their careers. Young people who have mentors are 130% more likely to...

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10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017

10 most popular B2B Lead Generation Posts

January is a time for new beginnings.

To help you launch into a great year, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most popular and shared posts on the B2B Lead Generation Blog in 2017.

This following list was compiled based on aggregate social shares across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and views.

The list starts at number 10 moving up.

#10: How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales 

lead-routingHave you intentionally optimized your sales lead routing and assignment process? If not, you could be losing sales, and marketing ROI not see it.

For example, LeadData’s new report, The State of Lead Management, based on a survey of 527 B2B sellers and marketers found an average 25.5 % of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong account owner.

Did you catch that? Over 25% of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong person. In this post, you’ll get 7 tips to increase your lead generation ROI by improving how you route leads.

Read about How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales Results

 #9: Getting sales enablement right to increase results

sales_enablement

Sales enablement is intended to help raise performance, but a lot of efforts have backfired due to departmental silos. And now there’s growing gap between what salespeople need and what they’re getting to improve performance.

So how do you get sales enablement right?

I interviewed Dave Brock (@davidabrock), author of the Sales Manager Survival Guide, also CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE. Dave’s brilliance is his focus on practical simplification.

Find out how to get sales enablement right to increase results

#8: How to do lead management that improves conversion

Have you looked at your lead management approach from the perspective of customer experience? If not, you may want to start now.

Here’s why: According to Forrester, top performers convert 1.54% of marketing qualified leads to revenue. This means almost 98% people who start the customer journey are lost.

Find out 5 areas you need to focus on to improve lead management and increase conversion.

Read more: How to do lead management that improves conversion

#7: Seven Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

People aren’t looking for a reason to read your lead nurturing email messages, they’re looking for a reason to delete them. Think about it.

Marketers rely on email as the top lead nurturing tactic. And according to Econsultancy email is the best digital channel for ROI.

Read 7 Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

#6: Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

customer connectionHow can marketers better connect with people we hope will become our customers?

Why? Because the trust gap between marketers and customers has never been bigger.

For example, this survey by Hubspot showed that only 3 percent of buyers surveyed consider marketers and salespeople trustworthy. Yikes.

It starts with the words we use which ultimately affects how we think and act towards others.

Read Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

#5: How customer-hero stories help you connect emotionally and sell better

customer-hero storiesJust 13% of salespeople produce 87% of revenue in a typical organization according to the Sales Benchmark Index.

You may be wondering: what do the 13% do differently?

They connect emotionally with their buyers.

I interviewed Mike Bosworth. If you don’t know Mike Bosworth already, he is a thought leader in the B2B sales/marketing space.

Read more: How customer-hero stories help you connect better

#4: New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

Getting the right content to the right people continues to be a challenge in B2B marketing and lead generation.

Salesforce analyzed more than 15 million data points, spanning a four-year period, from two of the most massive B2B databases: Data.com and LinkedIn.

The results will surprise you.

I interviewed Mathew Sweezey (@msweezey). Mathew works with Salesforce and is the Principal of Marketing Insights to talk about the report, B2B Personas: Targeting Audiences.

Check out the New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

#3: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

Lead-Nurturing-TacticsLead nurturing is one of those things that’s easy to talk about but hard to do.

Find out how to apply lead nurturing to help advance leads through three stages of your lead generation funnel to get more qualified opportunities.

Learn 5 tactics you can use immediately to improve lead-to-customer conversion.

Read more: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

#2: Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

Customer advocacy marketing programs help you increase revenue by improving customer acquisition and retention (and they’re also your best source of leads).

I interviewed Mark Organ (@markorgan). Mark is the Founder and CEO of Influitive, and he’s been a thought leader in the space of sales/marketing technology and customer advocacy.

Read about Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

#1: Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Who should own B2B lead generation: sales, marketing or both?

You might be thinking, “isn’t the answer obvious?” It’s not.

Let me explain.

Sales and marketing don’t do a great job of lead generation because they both believe it’s the others job.

I asked the 19,830 members the B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group about this topic. In this post, you’ll get a ton of actionable tips.

Read Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Conclusion

The single biggest issue for B2B revenue growth remains lead generation: increasing lead quality and quantity. This analysis into the most popular posts gives a glimpse into what subjects readers found most relevant.

Additionally, this list shows that increasing conversion, understanding customer motivation, managing and nurturing leads better, and improving sales performance are topics on the minds of readers.  At the same time, connecting and building trust with buyers has never been harder.

That’s why we need to go beyond rational-logic based marketing to understand how our customers feel. Empathy is not just a “soft” skill, it’s an incredibly powerful tool to understand customer motivation and increase lead conversion. I’ll be sharing more about how we can connect with customers better using applied empathy.

The post 10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017 appeared first on the B2B Lead Blog.

Find the Right Words to Land the Right Job

It's that time of year again. People are thinking about exploring new opportunities and updating their LinkedIn profiles to help land a new job that's right for them. When it comes to perfecting your profile, the words you choose are a vitally important factor in helping you get you noticed by recruiters. So to help, we've taken a look at the top words professionals used to describe themselves in this year's Top 10 Global Buzzwords and dug into why so many people are choosing these words....

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5 Reasons Why Your Buyer Persona’s Aren’t Good Enough

How often do you spend weeks or even months putting blood, sweat, and tears into a new marketing campaign, only to have it fall flat?

You swear you did everything right, but when it comes time for the results to pour in, they never show.  It’s a marketer’s worst nightmare.

The likely culprit? Bad buyer personas.

Think about it, your buyer personas are the building blocks of your marketing campaigns. If they’re not good enough, every part of your marketing strategy will suffer.

That’s why we’re teaching you five easy ways to improve your buyer personas. Keep reading!

What is a buyer persona?

In the most basic sense of the phrase, a buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer.  These profiles are made up of existing customer data, anecdotal observations, industry research and much, much more.

Large companies often have multiple buyer personas that span multiple industries, demographics, and product offerings. Whereas smaller companies often have fewer, less targeted buyer personas.

To create a buyer persona, you must analyze your current customer base and identify any common traits and characteristics.

Do your customers work at companies of a certain size?
Do they hold similar job titles?
Do they all work within the same industry?
Do they use the same software?

Alone, these traits may not be significant—but when combined inside a buyer persona, they give you a comprehensive view of your typical customer.

What does a buyer persona look like?

A very basic buyer persona looks like this: A 30 to 45-year old male, who works in software sales, at a company of 300+ employees. A more complex buyer persona extends beyond surface level details and includes other factors like common complaints, shared opinions, buying preferences, and more.

Here’s a basic example from Brightspark Consulting:

Unfortunately, the more complex your buyer persona, the longer it takes to construct. The best buyer personas are highly targeted and require a significant amount of analysis, research, and time.

Before we dive in, let us explain why buyer personas are so important.

Why are buyer personas critical to modern marketing?

Buyer personas are a modern marketer’s best friend. When you use buyer personas to inform each and every part of your marketing strategy, you tailor your decisions to the preferences of your ideal customers. Therefore, a set of detailed buyer personas can have a massive effect on your marketing results. Consider these statistics (source):

  • Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are four times as likely to use buyer personas for demand generation than those who missed lead and revenue goals.
  • 56% of companies have generated higher quality leads using buyer personas.
  • 36% of companies have created shorted sales cycles using buyer personas.
  • 24% of companies generated more leads using buyer personas.
  • 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.

Five reasons your buyer personas aren’t good enough

It’s evident that buyer personas are critical to marketing performance.

But shockingly, 60-70% of B2B marketers admit that they don’t truly understand their buyers (source).

This means that, although many marketers create buyer personas, they probably aren’t very effective.  Today we solve that problem.

If you’re not reaching the right audience, or your marketing results have plateaued, perhaps we can tell you why. Keep reading for the five most common reasons your buyer personas aren’t as effective as they could be.

Reason #1: They don’t include technographic information

Marketers have been using demographic information to target potential customers since the dawn of time. Technographics, on the other hand, are relatively new.

For those who aren’t familiar, technographics are the tools and technologies a company uses to operate. This includes everything from social media management tools to the platform a company uses to manage their website. But, technographic data isn’t just a tool or set of tools. It also includes vital information about how your prospects use and purchase technology.

Although demographic and firmographic data is essential, your buyer personas aren’t complete without technographic data. Consider this—with insight into the tools your prospects use, you can target your competitor’s customer base or identify important trends happening within your industry.

Here’s an example from VentureBeat: A financial tech firm noticed that Eloqua marketing automation was a predictive signal for its top prospects. The company is in a completely separate vertical, so it wouldn’t make sense to personalize messages about this platform.

However, it did help them deduce a few things. They recognized that companies running Eloqua tend to have a certain level of technical sophistication, and are usually big enough to be able to afford premium enterprise systems.

Reason #2: They’re built off of biases

As hard as we try not to, all marketers have their own biases. It’s easy to forget that not everyone thinks about your products or your brand the way you do. Unfortunately, these biases can influence your buyer personas and make them unreliable.

 If you’re not sure whether your own biases have influenced your buyer personas, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my personas mirror the customer journey we most commonly see?
  • Do I have evidence to support each and every assertion within my buyer personas?
  • If a customer read this profile of themselves, would they agree with it?
  • If my sales team read this profile of our best buyer, would they agree with it?
  • Do I ever overstate or overestimate the need for the product I’m trying to sell?
  • Do I ever overstate or overestimate the product’s ability to solve my customer’s problem?

Ask yourself these questions and truly try to think like your customer. If all else fails, hire an analyst, survey your customers, and ask other departments within your company to check your work.

Reason #3: You set it and forget it

If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve already created your buyer personas. Maybe they’re effective—maybe they’re not. But chances are, if it’s been longer than six months, you need to revisit them.

Data changes, trends fade, and buying habits evolve as technology advances. It’s important that your buyer personas take these changes into account.  After initial buyer persona creation, put a recurring meeting on your calendar to review them.

Keep track of any important changes within the industry, your company, your product, technological advances, and buying motivators. When it comes time to review, make sure your personas reflect these changes. After all, your customers aren’t static and neither are your buyer personas. Don’t treat them as such.

Reason #4: You don’t have enough

If you’re a small company with one product, a single buyer persona may be enough to fuel your marketing campaigns. But chances are, it won’t be enough.

If you feel like your buyer personas are ineffective, it could be that they’re not granular enough.

In today’s marketing landscape, your customers expect all marketing communications to be tailored to their specific wants and needs. Consider these statistics:

  • Over 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand (source).
  • 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to (source).
  • 87% of consumers surveyed say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand (source).
  • 63% of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands to continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly (source).
  • 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant (source).

 Take a look at each of your personas and the campaigns you’ve used to target them. Is the content you’re serving truly relevant to each person within that audience? Consider removing any outliers and creating a separate buyer persona for them.

Reason #5: They lack motivation and emotive context

If you only use quantitative metrics to compose your buyer personas, they likely won’t perform well.

This is because your customers and prospects are people—not numbers. Some people buy products on a whim. Others take a year to consult with an entire buying committee before spending money. Something that triggers a purchase for one customer may have no effect on another customer.

To create effective buyer personas, you must consult your sales and customer service teams to gather anecdotal evidence.

Determine what motivates each of your buyers to make a purchase. Is it frustration? Is it the satisfaction of getting a good deal? Or did you just catch them at the right time?

This information is crucial. Without it, you don’t truly understand your customers.

Key Takeaways

Buyer personas are essential to marketing—but only if they’re created correctly and aren’t neglected. It’s important that, as a marketer, you recognize the power of buyer personas and dedicate the time and effort needed to create them.

The post 5 Reasons Why Your Buyer Persona’s Aren’t Good Enough appeared first on the B2B Lead Blog.

I Hope You’re Not Making This BIG LinkedIn Mistake

If you haven't given serious thought to what location and industry you've selected on your LinkedIn profile, you're probably leaving money on the table. Why? Because you aren't coming up in the search list when your target audience uses them to search for someone like you.

Most people haven't given this choice a moment's consideration since setting up their profile many years ago. I suggest now is a good time to reconsider what you've selected so you can be sure your choices are helping you accomplish your current goals and your goals going forward.


The options are limited but very important

LinkedIn allows you to choose only one industry and one location. Since many of us wear more than one hat and do business nationally or even globally, this can be quite challenging.

(Note: Currently the industry you select is not displayed on your profile, but it's still important because it's one of the most used search filters.)

Secondly, they're not only extremely important when people search on LinkedIn but on Google and other search engines as well.

Industry and Location are two of the filter options when you use the LinkedIn advanced people searching function. They are frequently used by people who are looking for your products, services, expertise, and—especially if you're looking for a job—YOU.
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How to choose the best location and industry

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of people who are searching for you or someone like you. What location and industry might they put in the advanced search boxes? Here are some strategies to help you get started:
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  • If you're a job seeker and thinking about relocating or working in a new industry, use the new location and industry.
  • If you're a sales professional who sells your products and services in a certain part of the country or world or to a specific industry, consider using that location and industry. In other words, think about your customers' industries and locations. This may take priority over your personal industry and location.
  • If you're not seeking a new job and aren't directly selling anything, select the broadest but still correct location (e.g., select Greater Milwaukee Area instead of Thiensville, Wisconsin).
  • If you have multiple industry and location choices that are equally good, consider changing them out from time to time to your alternative choices.
  • Consider mentioning multiple cities, regions or industries in other profile sections to improve your search ranking and your chances of being found. The sections that work well for this would be your Summary, Job Experiences, Job Locations, Interests, and maybe even your Headline if it's important enough.
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  • Share your thought process for your location and industry choices with others at your company, industry associations, networking groups, etc. and get their feedback. There probably isn't only one correct answer, so getting opinions of other knowledgeable people who know your situation is a no-brainer.
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How to enter or adjust your location and industry

Follow these simple steps, and you'll greatly improve your chances of being found by your target audience.

Go to your profile by clicking the Me icon in your top toolbar.

Click the pencil to the right of your profile photo.

Select your country from the drop-down menu.

Type in your postal code.

Select either a region or city that is provided from the Locations within this area box.

Select your desired industry from the drop-down menu.

Click Save.

Don't make the mistake your competitors are probably making—not taking the time to carefully choose their industry and location or, worse yet, letting LinkedIn make the location choice for them.

Granted, because of LinkedIn's limitations, there's probably no perfect answer. But making a conscious, thoughtful decision about what location and industry to choose is sure to give you a leg up on your competitors.
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SPECIAL OFFER

For more simple strategies to improve your LinkedIn ROI, along with a detailed critique of your profile, take advantage of my limited time offer: a one-hour, one-on-one phone consultation for just $175 (50% off my regular fee). 

I will share my computer screen with you during the call and send you a marked up copy of your profile prior to the call.

There are limited spots available, so don't delay. Book your session today by clicking here.

The post I Hope You’re Not Making This BIG LinkedIn Mistake appeared first on Wayne Breitbarth.

The Most Popular Jobs and Companies for College Graduates

As we approach the halfway point of the school year, many students are starting to think about graduation. But, like all soon-to-be grads it’s often a struggle to figure out the best way to begin your job search. To help you prepare to enter the workforce, we’ve compiled our second annual list of the most popular companies and jobs for grads. This year, Amazon has taken the top spot on the list of most popular companies, having hired twice as many 2017 graduates as any other company on this...

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Get Your Free Gift From LinkedIn Now!

LinkedIn has given all of its users a very special but hard to find gift, and most people are not taking advantage of it.

So, what is this special gift?

It is an additional 100 characters in what I consider to be the most important section of your profile—your headline. Historically this section has been limited to just 120 characters (including spaces), and now you can enter 220 characters—but only if you use the LinkedIn mobile app to enter your headline.

That is 83 percent more space to clearly tell your audience what you do and add more keywords to improve your LinkedIn search ranking.

Personally, this allowed me to feature in my headline an additional LinkedIn service I provide, "1 on 1 LinkedIn Strategy & Profile Consultations." Ka-Ching!
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How to get this special gift

Download the LinkedIn app for your iOS or Android device. Get more info here.

Open the LinkedIn app, click on your photo in the top left-hand corner of your home page; then click the pencil to the right of your photo on your profile page.

Add to your existing headline or enter a new one (up to 220 characters, including spaces).

Click Save, and your new, expanded headline will then be visible to LinkedIn users not only when they're using the LinkedIn app but on the desktop as well.

If you need additional help with your headline (including several great examples of well-written LinkedIn headlines), download my FREE Definitive Worksheet to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile Headline here:

 

Download (PDF, 669KB)

 

 

The post Get Your Free Gift From LinkedIn Now! appeared first on Wayne Breitbarth.

LinkedIn Data Reveals the Most Promising Jobs and In-Demand Skills of 2018

As we enter 2018 it’s become clear that the jobs landscape in the United States is changing. How people are thinking about their careers and how they define success is changing. The rise of technology across every industry has created a flurry of new jobs and associated skills (and these aren’t necessarily all tech roles). While we all may take a different approach to reach our own definition of success, we’ve compiled a list of the most promising jobs and in-demand skills, plus a few stand-out...

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