Okay, life is getting hairy out there in techland. Sun Microsystems is cutting nearly twenty percent (6,000) employees, venture capitalists who couldn't shovel money fast enough into lame web 2.0 startups are starting to preach cost control and the - sort of but not quite - closing of the Valleywag gossip site means that the irrational exuberance which bubbles up in Silicon Valley every four years or so is officially, undeniably and absolutely on hold until bubble 3.0 comes along. So when your web 2.0 social network job is neutered by an economy on hold, what are you to do?
Here's a good place to start. Last week the Society of Information Managers (SIM) held their annual meeting in Florida. So, I'm guessing your first question is, "What is SIM?" Think of a techie manager organization that has been around for forty years or so and has seen more bubbles than Lawrence Welk (right, you don't know who he was either, that's okay). Think of the managers - many of whom are CIOs - who run the information systems that underlay the big corporations in America. You can even watch a video clip with the founder of SIM
If you have any hope of staying employed in IT over the next year or so, you will probably be working for one of these executives.
So, SIM was kind enough to send me a presentation on the fifteen top skills that their members are looking for in entry level employees. What? You are saying you are way beyond the entry level stage? Ah, what surprises await you if you have not lived through a downturn before. In any case, quit watching YouTube for a second and see if your skillset matches up with these fifteen. My comments come after.
1. Ethics and Morals
2. Critical thinking and problem solving
3. Collaboration; Teams
4. Problem Solving 5. Communication: Oral6. Communication: Written 7. User relationship management 8. Creativity/Innovation 9. Managing Expectations 10. Progamming/Application Development 11. Decision Making 12. Functional Area Knowledge 13. Project leadership 14. Database 15. System analysis
How did you do? Are you still looking for the words Java, Python, Ajax, Silverlight, Flash and so forth? Clue #1. The hours you spent becoming the Ajax expert don't count for nearly as much as being able to show you have some sense of ethics, can communicate in person instead of on Twitter and you can work with a group of people. If you think the emphasis on ethics and morals is only talk, you are wrong. Security is still the number one priority in corporate techland and employees are still the number one source of security breaches. Put the two together.
So there you go. When you finally decide to go out and buy the interview suit and someone sitting across the desk from you asks you what your strengths are, don't start bragging about reaching the 70 level in World of Warcraft, remember the nine top entry level skills that those SIM execs are looking for and show the world how you are strong in all those areas. Good luck.