What Constitutes a Hot Job in IT?

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2008-08-15

I don't want to irk the professional analysts too much because I think they are accomplishing good, smart work. When done right, research is well-imagined, thoughtfully engineered around data, and will have a deep perspective on technology markets and the jobs that service them.

Analysts thrive in this area.

IT is more than a mere maintenance game these days. It's a competitive space where successful companies use research to their advantage. Where possible, research captures, reflects and suggests the jobs, skill sets and best practices companies should have. Remember, analysts are being paid to collect data, report findings and give recommendations.

With that in mind, Forrester recently released a report on hot IT jobs (not free). The audience for this is probably more suited for your boss, the CTO or CIO, but the hottest jobs according to them are in security--as in security experts who establish compliance, governance and risk management policies and the information architects that manage those policies.

Forrester compiled information from nine analysts and broke it down into these "hot" IT job types:

1. Local knowledge. Those who have intimate specific industry or business knowledge.

2. Cross-discipline knowledge. Information architects who know data (structured, unstructured), media, tools and applications.

3. High risk and impact.

4. Limited external supply. Outsourcers and consulting firms.

5. Consistency with technology, vendor or industry direction. Mobiles ops and device experts, for example, benefit from rapid changes in this technology, while the demand for experts in SharePoint, Oracle and SAP is driven by vendor direction and sales growth.

I'd say they have done their homework around IT skill types and tied them to the kind of process and senior management companies could need. The problem is, I don't see a whole lot of data correlation in the report--or information on how much filling these hot jobs will cost (other than to say some of these skills are pricey).

The point of having a little skepticism here is to remember that research is a business, just as blog posting, news content and advertising is a business. I'm not saying Forrester didn't present compelling information. They did. Their findings are in line with other research (at least Forrester's is not as specific as the recruiting-company research out there that gives you "hot job" by vendor or certification level, which is a conflict of interest).

There is a ton of job and career research out there trying to tell you what is the hottest thing so that you can help shape your career around it, but does that mean all of you are going to become security or governance experts? Are you running out tomorrow to become an information architect?

We have jobs research over at CIO Insight. The government has research on jobs. Most of the major recruiting companies have research wings. Then there are all the major analyst and research firms. And don't forget about the academic and university institutions.

My suggestion: Read it all and make informed decisions on the lot. Don't take one piece of research and isolate it from the rest. While some out there want to tell you there is a shortage of IT skills, the data can be sliced many ways. Whether it's the H-1B visas or outsourcing or hot IT jobs, keep yourself as informed as possible. The messages out here are varied and complex, and always consider the source.

The best piece of information in this Forrester report comes from the recommendations area:

Know When to Compromise

When all the required attributes are added up, most job descriptions for senior roles define supernatural beings. Compromises can be made in technical skills for enterprise project managers, in project management skills for vendor managers, and in people skills for data experts.

Now that's refreshing. What do you think?

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