Are you looking to get into your first IT job? Or maybe, you are looking to move up into a better IT position? Then again, maybe you probably want to go into a totally different side of IT that you are not currently in.
Whatever the case maybe for you, carefully picking the skills that you need to upgrade so that you can match both your ambitions and the demand in the IT industry is critically important in staying ahead in 2017 and beyond.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always better to make sure that you acquire new diverse skills before applying for a new position or a new job. In doing so, you will be more marketable to your potential employer since they will require less time, energy or resources to train you.
Why diversify your IT skillset?
1. It shows that you’re proactive and committed
It’s not only good for your resume but it also shows that you are proactive and committed. These are two character traits that every employer loves to see in their employees.
2. It keeps you sharp
Learning new things not only gives you an infusion of enthusiasm and positivity but it is also simply good for your brain. According to a study by the National Bureau of economic Research, learning leads to happiness. In the ever changing IT sector, learning new skills will make you more confident about your job and career and therefore lead to more job satisfaction.
3. Your innovativeness and creativity increase
The more tools (read: skills) you have in your toolbox (read: skillset), the easier it will be for you to do any task that is ahead of you. This will have a positive impact on your efficiency and effectiveness at any IT job/task especially since almost all IT professions overlap or rely on skills from a different IT field.
4. Do you have another option?
Simply put, you don’t have any other option but to keep increasing or diversifying your skillset if you want to remain relevant in your chosen IT career. In IT, changes are rapid and are the order of the day and this means that you have to embrace new technologies and skillsets constantly.
Ways to diversify your skillset
1. Formal training
Asking your employer if there are any opportunities for formal training through sponsorships in colleges or whichever other training schemes that are in place can be helpful.
If your employer doesn’t have a development policy or if the development policy is insufficient for your needs, there are several online courses that you could enroll into. Online training providers, like Simplilearn, Coursera, Pluralsight, which provide online training classes where you can learn at your own pace. For example, there are some amazing training courses on Big Data Hadoop which can help you give a new direction to your IT Career. Of course, there are courses available on Digital Marketing, Project Management, Software Development, etc., as well.
Additionally, there are some night school courses that have flexible payment structures to allow you to take advantage of further formal education.
2. Informal training
Simply listening to a good IT-related podcast or reading an IT blog can be quite useful for IT skillset diversification. Furthermore, there are thousands of other notable online resources that you can use to keep yourself informed about the different IT fields and the changes that are taking place in those IT fields.
3. Volunteer your time
Once you have gathered some skills either through formal or informal training, you need to put your skills into practice. Volunteering your time at your current workplace or elsewhere is a great way to bolster what you have learned and to further diversify new practical skills.
4. Mentorship and partnerships
If you have a skill that you would love to learn more about, instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, how about you hire an expert to help you. This can help you to demystify a certain IT field and allow you to springboard into a different IT fields through the expert’s direction, training advice, and contacts.
By engaging in activities that you enjoy, you can quite easily learn a lot without breaking a sweat or noticing that you are actually diversifying your IT skillset.
For example, if you love gaming, how about coding your own simple game in a programming language of your choice. Or maybe using your current IT skillset as a resource in a team of game developers.
If you’re not into the gaming idea, replace gaming with; mobile app development, Mac/PC/Linux software development, VR/AR software development or whatever else you are enthusiastic about.
IT Skills highly demanded in 2017
Some of the skillsets in high demand in 2017 include:
UX design: Simplifying complex software’s with intuitive user interfaces will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
IT Architecture: more companies are interested in specific skills that can help them to better plan, execute and maintain IT infrastructures. Some specialties include; solution architects, cloud architects, and data architects,
Big Data: Skills that allow sifting through massive amounts of data and making sense of the data are still highly demanded and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Creating easy to understand dashboards so that management can make faster and highly informed decisions is a very useful skillset.
Cloud computing: In 2017, the number of cloud computing experts falls far short of the demand. Employers are currently seeking people to fill positions like; distributed computing, data mining, cloud and statistical analysis skills
If you know why you need to diversify, what is hot in 2017 and how you can diversify your skillset, there is no reason why you should remain stagnant or worse yet become redundant in IT. Now that you know what to do, the ball is in your court.
I diversified my own skillset by focusing on learning and building up my own blog- ReveringThoughts. This is one of the key discussion points with recruiter whenever I’m in talks for a new job or project.
Watching how jobs are being lost to automation and rue about it, is not what you should be looking at. Instead, Skill Up!