Every year brings different opportunities and challenges in the IT industry. The key is knowing what’s in demand and figuring out how to meet those needs. Computerworld recently published the results of its annual Forecast survey, which revealed a lot of valuable insight about which skills are likely to be the most sought-after in 2012. We’ll be highlighting some of the main skills desired (and featured in the survey’s results) as well as offer advice as to how to include these skills in your arsenal.
Networking (VMware and Citrix experience)
What it entails: If you’ve already done networking tasks, you know how it generally involves servers, software, and signals, oh my! But employers these days are interested in networking skills at least partly because of cloud computing, which, according to a TechRepublic article about what IT will look like in 2015, will change the way a lot of old IT tasks are performed as it’s relied on more. For example, setting up data centers will only take a matter of days instead of months.
Why it’s in demand: With the cloud serving as integral part in the workings of IT, professionals with the skills to manage it will be necessary. In addition, the survey analysis mentions that virtualization on top of knowledge of cloud’s capabilities are highly sought-after skills because businesses will need IT professionals to come in and be able to cluster the servers and know how to expand the network.
Web 2.0 Tech skills centered on social media
Why it’s in demand: There continues to be a growth (albeit a smaller one than others) in the demand for skills in operating social media because of its prevalence in the business world and companies’ desire to include social media in their infrastructures. Earlier this year, a Frost & Sullivan survey showed that almost half of the polled 200 C-level execs used social media in their organizations, and as this number probably will grow (and has grown), the skills needed to implement social media are vital.
Programming and Application Development
What it entails: Instead of IT jobs being based on managing hardware and software, IT workers will be expected to create applications that operate flawlessly and are easy to use, according to a TechRepublic article. The trend of employers looking for builders more than people who simply deploy technologies has already begun, and it’s likely to continue.
Why it’s in demand: Programming and application development experienced one of the biggest leaps this year, going from 44% of employers wanting to hire for this skill in the 2010 survey to 61% saying they want it now. Why? Web development and technologies related to mobile are hot right now, and as TechRepublic points out, being able to develop and choose the perfect applications will be key in helping businesses streamline their processes.
What it entails: You’ll have to be able to secure multiple platforms; especially in light of the cloud and mobile applications beginning to dominate large portions of the IT professional’s responsibilities. Security is always a huge priority for companies, and because of new threats out there, like the potential for malware infecting smartphones, IT professionals need to accept the challenge and use their skills to protect businesses’ information.
Why it’s in demand: Having so much private information stored in a more external fashion could, in theory, leave people and businesses feeling wary about the security issues. Furthermore, health information technology will specifically be seeking out candidates equipped with security and compliance skills because of the growing technological development the medical industry is trying to implement. Staying within HIPAA regulations and keeping medical information private is vital.
HOW TO LEARN THE SKILLS
Because the IT industry is constantly changing and evolving, you can’t afford to pick up a set of skills and then stop learning. More and more qualities are in demand because of changing difficulties companies face. So if you’re not going to settle for what you already know, how will you keep up with all of the new information and techniques involved in IT?
The best option is always to get hands-on experience, as this is one of the most valued things employers look for. However, it’s not always an option, so if you want to keep up with the industry, start by reading great IT resources. Our partner Idea published a blog post about some of the best IT professional resources online, so if you’re looking for informative reading material, that’s the perfect place to begin.
If you want to try leveraging your current skills to get a better or different position, we have a past post that could help you achieve this goal. The trick is to do whatever you can to gain on-the-job experience. Certifications are good, but they don’t hold as much weight. They do, however, prove you have knowledge about certain subjects, which certainly helps.
Be proactive when you’re in the IT industry and keep your skill set relevant and useful. Also, don’t forget to keep more of the IT “soft skills” in mind like communication skills and the ability to use foresight and adapt. These types of characteristics are also valued, so improve upon them if necessary. All-in-all, read up, learn everything you can, and gain experience in order to pull ahead of the crowd.