IT Planner

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-10-22 Print this article Print

: 5 Steps to Better Job Security"> In an age of cost containment, a looming economic slowdown, outsourcing, offshoring, the impending retirement of a bulk of the IT professional population, and declining enrollments in math, technology, engineering and science classes, it comes as little surprise that IT professionals are an insecure bunch. Many are questioning what can be done to ensure their career survival. For numerous IT professionals, keeping their skills fresh and proving their continued importance to their organizations is a significant source of stress. This was the topic of a study released Aug. 29 by the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, in London. "Simply possessing information technology is an insufficient condition for achieving the tangible outcomes in which shareholders are interested, such as improving the bottom line," wrote authors Hsing-Yi Tsai, Deborah Compeau and Nicole Haggerty in "Of Races to Run and Battles to be Won: Technical Skill Updating, Stress and Coping of IT Professionals." "The ability to learn and adapt to changes quickly is thus critical for the career of an IT professional."
But a focus on career survival might actually be the wrong approach, according to one recruiter.
"I think that if youre looking at career survival, you have the wrong perspective," Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing for Yoh, a recruiting and outsourcing company based in Philadelphia, told eWeek. "You should be thinking about career growth." Lanzalotto pointed to the health of the current IT job market, arguing that "these are the good old days," as the next few decades are expected to be great for technology workers, whether they are building, implementing, structuring or managing IT systems. Other observers have said that IT is still suffering from a case of bad public relations. "In recent research, weve interviewed CIOs and experts about the current state of the IT job market, and what we found was that the demand for IT skills is back to the prebust level, yet there are a lot of misconceptions about the viability of an IT career," Liz Brady, senior analyst for Forrester Leadership Boards, told eWeek. Because of the dot-com bust and excessive media hype around outsourcing, Brady said, parents and guidance counselors have discouraged young people from studying technology, resulting in decreasing enrollments in computer science programs and a diminished IT talent pipeline. "Meanwhile, there is no sign that a career in IT is going away," Brady said. "The demand for technology and business skills continues to increase." The savviest way to ensure job security is for IT professionals to adapt their outlook and enhance their skill sets to accommodate what organizations will need from their IT departments in the coming years. Some of this will involve losing old, bad habits and require evolving inherent technology skills to better serve businesses. Such actions will bring IT professionals not only more job security but also the satisfaction that comes with knowing that ones daily work is unquestionably central to the functioning of an organization. Step 1: Stop blowing it on the small stuff The IT department has long suffered from a bad reputation, for which it has only itself to blame. In the years before the tech bubble burst, IT was king; a huge demand for technical prowess and a shortage of able bodies put IT professionals in an exalted state. Tech workers could pick their job and name their salary. They could wear jeans and T-shirts to meetings, and nobody would raise an eyebrow. They often rolled their eyes when an employee did not know where to put his or her Ethernet card. If they didnt feel like doing something, they often didnt. Page 2: IT Planner: 5 Steps to Better Job Security


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