How to Make Yourself
Indispensable"> Underlying trends within the core skills have led to strong areas of specialization. "It is a good idea for information architect or a systems administrator to get experience in Linux or open-source technologies. Based on Dice.com job postings, this trend is very strong," Melland said.An outcome of the outsourcing movement is that there is an increased demand for managers and project managers. "Companies continue to implement new technologies, and this can take place in-house or offshore, and they need a project manager here that will make that implementation successful. If you are looking for an area of safety in the outsourcing world, one area is project management," Melland said. "There are many jobs posted for project managers that have strong IT backgrounds, this is a skill set very much in demand People with these skill sets are outsource-proof, or at the very least, very valuable to another company," he continued. Boost business skills Without fail, industry experts recommended that IT professional increase their business knowledge. "What happened is, technology is now embedded in all parts of companies business operations. As a result, a thriving tech professional in a tech company needs to understand business," Melland said. Citing a fundamental change in the IT skills and capabilities desired by employers, a study released April 4 by SIM (the Society for Information Management), a professional society of IT executives,
identified various business capabilities as five of the top 10 skills that are critical to keep in-house between now and 2008.
"Weve moved far beyond the need to have IT in line with business; IT now is the business. IT people are doing operations jobs. Theyre hybrid workers," Foote said.
Target integration skills
The aftereffects of corporate buyouts can provide an opportunity for savvy IT managers, the jobs pros said.
"Youre going to see a lot more mergers and acquisitions in the next five years because of the number of small, bright companies that lack the ability to scale. They have to sell themselves to people who can, which will mean that professionals will need more and more integration skills. These are the analysts and architects," Foote said.
Beef up communication skills
The last few years have seen a greater emphasis on the communication skills or "soft skills" of IT professionals, as "the days of working in a dark room at the end of the hall are over," Melland said.
As IT professionals come out from behind their desks, they need more than ever to be able to communicate with the rest of the company.
"Companies want someone who can speak to them in a language they understand; someone with good customer service skills," said Nancy Moran, vice president of client and employee relations at CCN, an IT work force solutions provider based in New York.
What about linking on the links?
Everyone knows that golf is the unofficial sport of the business world. Many have joked that board meetings merely confirm decisions that were actually made on the golf links. Though IT managers are not usually considered part of the golf-playing corporate elite, should they learn the game as they sharpen their business skills?
"As IT aligns itself more to the business, golf is the perfect opportunity for IT professionals to get the ear of management. IT is definitely moving away from the development-type geeks to actual strategic partners with the business," Moran said.
Though not everyone agrees on the importance of golf, they agree on the principle of getting comfortable around management.
"You dont need to learn how to play golf. The underlying message is that you need to understand the business that youre part of, but you dont need to do this by playing golf with the sales guys," Melland said.
"But you do need to be able to converse on business issues," he advised.
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Boost project management skills