After the tech bubble burst in the early 2000s, many IT professionals learned quickly that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, the difference between the 2001 recession and what our country is experiencing now is that the current crisis has the potential to affect every household and business in America--not just a single industry or sector of the American economy.
Unfortunately, this means that despite the steady growth IT has experienced over the past few years, the declining economy could once again halt growth in this key industry. The current economic meltdown has caused many companies to re-evaluate their technology budgets and hiring plans, which could potentially lead to IT layoffs or increased outsourcing of IT jobs to other countries to save money.
So, what does all of this mean for IT workers? Now more than ever, IT professionals will need to adjust their skills to align with the changing business demands as a result of the economy. It will be important to demonstrate their value to employers and make thoughtful decisions as it relates to their career. The following are four tips that IT professionals can follow to increase their chances of surviving a recession:
Tip #1: Provide meaningful results
In an economic downturn, many companies will be forced to look closer at their revenue and expenses to ensure that their business is able to stay profitable. This is the perfect opportunity for IT staff members to demonstrate their value to the organization by identifying new ways to save money or produce revenue. Employers will be more likely to retain a technical resource who has the ability to make an impact on the bottom line by streamlining a process, for example, or by reducing the number of servers needed to run the business.
Tip #2: Step outside the comfort zone
In a time when many companies are tightening their IT budgets due to the economic downturn, it may be necessary for workers to expand beyond their traditional role to take on more responsibilities. Although this inevitably means an increased workload, it is important to make the most out of this opportunity to gain more experience and demonstrate value to the employer. To increase job security, IT workers will need to diversify their skill set and express a willingness to help out wherever needed. Employers appreciate workers who prove that they are in it for the long haul and are willing to go the extra mile to achieve their career goals.
Tip #3: Take advantage of learning opportunities
Although a recession is not the time to give up a job to go back to school, it may be the time for IT professionals to assess their current skill set and determine if they could benefit from additional certifications or training. In an industry that is constantly evolving and changing, it is important for IT professionals to anticipate emerging technology trends and continue to learn new skills to stay competitive in the job market. Some employers may look to downsize their IT department as a result of the economy, but will be more likely to hold onto the employees who can carry out multiple technical functions in the business.
The same is true for hiring, as many employers will be looking to hire well-rounded IT workers who are familiar with the most up-to-date IT skills. IT professionals who are considering going back to school should evaluate all of their options, such as online courses and certification programs (which do not require as much time and expense as obtaining an MBA or four-year degree).
Tip #4: Plan for the best, yet prepare for the worst
It is crucial for IT professionals to always be thinking ahead in their career. Although it may not be the best decision to jump ship as soon as things get a little rough, it is important for IT professionals to proactively maintain their skills and continue networking at all times. It helps to be aware of what is going on in the job market and to avoid being unprepared in the case of a layoff, which would make it more difficult to transition into a new position.
America has survived many recessions before and this time it will be no different. The short-term implications of an economic downturn may cause many IT professionals to be on the edge of their seat, wondering if their job is at stake. But, in the long run, the economy will inevitably bounce back and job security will once again return. The question is, how long will this take? In the meantime, IT workers will have to put their best foot forward and approach this difficult time as a challenging career opportunity that could lead to great rewards in the end.
Rich Milgram is the Founder and CEO of Beyond.com, Inc. Since January 1998, Rich has developed and grown the company into a highly niche-specific career community that enables job seekers and employers to create targeted connections across thousands of top-tier industry and local Websites. Rich is a subject matter expert on the topics of online recruitment, software development and applications, career consulting, entrepreneurship, identity protection and related topics. Rich holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Boston University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.