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Is It Time to Change Skill Gears?

Posted by Carl E. Reid Wednesday, February 1, 2006

With almost 25 years of IT experience I have never wasted time tinkering or learning a new technology, unless I saw a profit potential. Oh I'm inspector gadget just like any other red blooded guy. I'm addicted to my Blackberry. Playing with my Blackberry and learning all aspects of it, including implementing the Blackberry Enterprise Server for Lotus Notes, has paid huge profits in consulting assignments.

I've seen many IT professionals get their feelings hurt and become disappointed , when they tried to sell technology skills that were not in demand. It's marketing 101. Meet a customer at their need.

Don't forget your geography lessons when considering a skill transition. Do your homework to make sure your new skills are in demand. One of the best indicators is being able to decipher "want ads" in a local area. If you trend want ads, this built in radar system will help you decide what direction to learn new technology skills.

Want ads should be used as indicators for where to adjust your skills. They are not necessarily good vehicles to apply for jobs. Using your network of contacts is your best bet for landing opportunities. Click here, if you don't have a personal network.

Keep in mind companies are getting more savvy in their technology staffing requirements. They want more specialty skills. Just like doctors and lawyers, specializing within a technology area still dictates earning potential and minimizing competition. Identify technology skills where the demand is high, but not many people have that skill set (i.e. Linux administrators). This sky rockets income. When you see the market starting to saturate (i.e. MCSEs), change skill gears again.

With IT budgets opening up, 2006 is the year for four hot skills. A recent survey by Computer World indicates the 4 top areas in IT expansion are (in order of survey ranking):

Developers
.Net and Java will continue to be the preferred golden children of skill sets in demand.

Technology Security Specialists
With an increase in identity theft, viruses and the potential threat of terrorists crippling society with computer network infiltration, skilled security specialists can write their own ticket.

Project Managers
There is a back log in projects due to economic factors over the last couple of three years. Companies are demanding PMs have their PMI certification. Specific areas of specialties are Health Insurance portability, Sarbanes-Oxley and accounting compliance. Disaster recovery planning is another hot area.

IT Helpdesk
As the back logged projects swing into high gear along with application/system rollouts from 2005, helpdesk staff are still required to perform more support. There are specialties in the helpdesk arena.
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