Defining A City By Its Professional Skill Set with Data From LinkedIn

October 22, 2014

By their very design and origins, cities have always been linked closely to opportunity. In addition to providing concentrated access to a more diverse set of cultural, culinary, and educational options, cities also attract and nurture clusters of workers with complementary and contrasting skills. For workers considering a move, the professional attributes of a city can matter just as much as the attributes of a particular company or opportunity.

Some professionals considering their next career move may be interested in an area that has a rich ecosystem of talent in their specialty. Others might want to find places where they’d stand out and offer a unique capability and point of view. Businesses evaluating a new location, or a new talent pool to tap, also pay close attention to where those pockets of talents lie.

Over 175 million LinkedIn members are located in the United States and Europe, and by mining the skills and location data in their profiles, we built two maps that highlight the skills which define almost every major city in each region. To see which skill categories are most uniquely found in each city in the US, click any of the colored dots on the map here: Click or hover over the legend to highlight cities that have similar skill categories.

A few things stood out when looking at our map of the US.

  • Follow the oil! Its always fascinating when geological features present themselves in socioeconomic data. Members with skills valued by the petroleum industry are much more likely to found in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and most recently North Dakota.
  • Rust belt remnants. The automotive industry's impact on Michigan and parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is evident in the manufacturing and engineering skills held by its members.
  • Some cities really do fit their stereotype. When we looked at Los Angeles and Nashville, we were a bit amused to see the prominence of music, TV, and drama-related skills. After all, LA has Hollywood, and Nashville is the country music capital of the world!

To see which skill categories are most uniquely found in each city in Europe, click any of the colored dots on the map, located here: Click or hover over the legend to highlight cities that have similar skill categories.

As with the US map, we noted a few interesting trends in Europe.

  • Many European cities have tech skills, but not all are the same. Madrid and Sevilla have just enough java development skills to rank as the dominant category, whereas Hamburg and Berlin have user interface design, game development, and mobile development skills - indicative of the region’s booming startup scene. Meanwhile, LinkedIn members in Poland have the most variety of technology skills found anywhere in our map.
  • Industries make their mark in several cities. Airbus’s global headquarters are located near Toulouse, made apparent by its aviation and manufacturing skills. Fashion skills in Milan shouldn’t surprise any of the millions of tourists who visit every year. Public policy and international relations skills are featured prominently in Brussels, the de facto capital of the EU.
  • London is multitalented, as it has several skills vying for the top category. Finance, business, and entertainment are almost equally represented, with entertainment barely edging out the other two.

As we continue to develop the Economic Graph, a digital representation of the global economy, we’ll be able to build a global map of supply and demand for every skill on LinkedIn, and in the process, help members find opportunities, whether jobs or new clients for their business.

Methodological details: The results of this analysis represent the world seen through the lens of LinkedIn data. As such, it is influenced by how members choose to use the site, which can vary based on professional, social, and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility. These variances were not accounted for in the analysis.

The cities included in our US map represent almost every major city in every state, with the exception of  Wilmington, DE, Manchester, NH, and Newark, NJ. Members in these cities tend to state on their profile that they work in their respective greater metropolitan areas (Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City) and were grouped together in our data set accordingly. The cities included on our Europe map were individually chosen to optimize geographic and economic diversity in each country.

Because there are thousands of individual skills (and growing!) that members can put on their profile, our first step was to group these skills into several dozen categories. For example, skills like “portfolio management” and “credit analysis” would fit under the “Trading and Investment” category. From there, we looked at the skill categories present in our cities of interest, and compared their distribution to the regional average (US and Europe were treated as separate and independent regions). Skill categories that had a greater share of a city’s population compared to the national average were considered to be “unique” to that city.

Interactive maps by Skye Riley