- What is a skill?
In Lightcast's Open Skills Library, skills are competencies at specific tasks or familiarity with specific subjects and tools acquired through education or experience. Each skill is classified as a specialized skill, common skill, or certification.
Specialized Skills – Skills that are primarily required within a subset of occupations or equip one to perform a specific task (e.g. "NumPy" or "Hotel Management"). Also known as technical skills or hard skills.
Common Skills – Skills that are prevalent across many different occupations and industries, including both personal attributes and learned skills. (e.g. "Communication" or "Microsoft Excel"). Also known as soft skills, human skills, and competencies.
Certifications – Recognizable qualification standards assigned by industry or education bodies (e.g. “Cosmetology License” or “Certified Cytotechnologist”).
- How are skills selected for inclusion?
We select skills that we know are relevant to people, employers, and educators—meaning, they are commonly listed on real-world resumes, professional profiles, and job postings. We gather and analyze millions of these skills each month and also take suggestions from the community. You can suggest a skill here.
- Do you have definitions for skills?
Yes, we have definitions for most skills. All skills in our Open Skills Library reflect their current common usage, so in order to provide context, we link most skills to Wikipedia articles. We also include brief descriptions from Wikipedia for those skills that are linked, distributed under the CC BY-SA license.
- What sort of taxonomy do you use?
We use two types of taxonomies. One is a traditional defined category and subcategory hierarchy taxonomy that is tagged on each skill to show relationships between skills. The other is a dynamic taxonomy that lets our classification rise organically from the skills and the relationship between skills in our aggregate supply and demand data. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the labor market, we let the relationships between skills emerge from real-world relationships, instead of solely organizing skills into these pre-existing categories that may or may not reflect current trends. You can learn more about our dynamic taxonomic data here or contact us here.
- Why do you offer a Skills API? Why can’t I just download an Excel file with a list of skills?
We offer an API, rather than a downloadable list, because skills are constantly changing. An API gives you access to the most up-to-date dataset of these evolving skills, whereas a downloadable list would be static and therefore quickly out of date. This is also why we update our skills every two weeks (see “How often does the classification change?”)
- Is this O*NET?
No. The acceleration of technological change in recent decades has made top-down, highly structural approaches like O*NET difficult to maintain and keep relevant. (See above: “What sort of taxonomy do you use?”)
- How often does the classification change?
We release a new version of the library every two weeks. Each release contains new skills and updates to how existing skills are identified. You can visit the changelog to get a sense of the project’s velocity.
- Can I suggest a skill?
Absolutely! Suggest a skill here.
- Why is Lightcast making this Open Skills Library freely available?
We’ve spent the last two decades analyzing the labor market. We believe that the best way forward for the whole system is to create a common language for people, education providers, and employers. Our hope is that by making this library freely available, we can help jobseekers identify the skills they need to get the job they want, help employers save time and money finding skilled candidates, and help educators provide relevant and specific courses.
- How do I get my data to speak your skills language?
We’ll help you! We provide services that can extract skills from raw text within job postings, resumes, professional profiles, and course descriptions. Once we extract those skills, you’ll be able to read these postings, resumes, etc., in the language they’re written in: the language of the real world. Want to get started? Contact us here.
- Why would I want my data to speak your language?
It’s the advantage of comparing apples to apples. Now that we’re speaking the same language, we can take your data and compare it with our massive database of postings, resumes, and profiles. We’ll be able to tell you whether your students are actually learning the skills they need, which companies are looking for people with these skills, and more.
This means colleges can align curriculum to the ever-changing job market, schools and organizations can help students and jobseekers to craft more powerful resumes that showcase in-demand skills, and businesses can create better job postings that target the best candidates.
- What terms apply? Can I use this service in a commercial product?
You are welcome to use Lightcast's Open Skills Library for free—as long as you attribute Lightcast and abide by our policies. Here are the Terms and Conditions.