Monday, January 4, 2010

Broaden Skills for Your IT Career in 2010

Now and then I write about the IT job market and the outlook for new graduates. Many students approaching graduation in the near future are looking for insight about the skills employers will expect them to have. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses this topic with useful data and advice. Writer Diana Middleton reports, “Technology, health care, and education will continue to be hot job sectors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ outlook for job growth between 2008 and 2018.” Additionally, a recent survey conducted by shows that of the 2,700 hiring managers surveyed, one-third plan to add technology staff in 2010. Reports like these should lend confidence to students majoring in IT, computer science, and related fields.

At the same time, data show that employers are looking for specialized and crossover skills in their applicants. A technology degree is still critical, but the applicant who is hired will likely have additional skills and experience that may not have come directly from a college or university course of study. “That's because not all of those jobs will be purely techie in nature,” writes Middleton. She quotes David Foote, chief executive officer of IT research firm Foote Partners, who “advises current computer-science students to couple their degrees with studies in marketing, accounting, or finance.” Foote said, "Before, people widely believed that all you needed to have were deep, nerdy skills. But companies are looking for people with multiple skill sets who can move fluidly with marketing or operations."

What does this mean for you? Find ways to broaden your skill sets, whether through additional coursework that may or may not be a part of your major, or through part-time work experience and personal experience. Certifications are also available that prove competencies. For technology majors specifically, skills in online and social marketing, as well as search engine optimization and marketing analytics combine well with technology education. User-experience design is another high-demand skill, as well as expertise in green technologies.

What have you done to broaden your skills in preparation for your career?

Emily Howard, TestOut

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