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3 steps to better IT career management

Thornton May | June 6, 2017
While every career involves a bit of luck and serendipity, they can and should be managed

Depending on which consultancy or think tank you prefer, there exist a variety of lists suggesting which industries will dominate the future. (See also Alec Ross’ Industries of the Future). If you put all the lists together and look for patterns, the one vertical market/ecosystem that everyone agrees will be big in the future is healthcare/wellness/biotechnology. 

At the next Computerworld conference you attend, make a point of reaching out to people in high-growth vertical markets. Ask your solution partners to make introductions to IT professionals working in “of-interest” industries. 


Step 2: Select a high-demand skill set

Aaron Levie, the sneaker-wearing CEO at Box, has told C-level audiences, “If you want a job for the next 10 years, work in IT. If you want a job for life, work in cyber security.” Security is hot and will remain hot for at least the next 15 years. 

Chief information security officers are always looking for new talent. The responses they get from job postings are filled with IT people who want to move over to the security space. I think there is a huge opportunity for educational institutions — in every geography — to create a curriculum that allows mid-to-late-career IT professionals to reinvent themselves as infosec experts. I welcome readers’ thoughts on what that curriculum might look like and how long it should take. 

Any list of hot and very much in-demand skill sets would also include high-end analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. 


Step 3: Craft the next-generation résumé

Kevin Grossman (Tech Job Hunt Handbook) is not alone in detesting the résumé as a skills communication device, writing that “the résumé is a self-serving piece of inconsistently formatted and fudged professional drivel.” Michele Weise (co-author, with Clayton Christensen, of Hire Education: Mastery, Modernization, and the Workforce Revolution) suggests using a competency grid (à la the GitHub model) to help visualize one’s skills. 

In the retail and hospitality space, customers use apps such as Yelp and TripAdvisor to rate customer experiences. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could rate what it’s like to work with our job colleagues? That kind of transparency might actually change workplace behavior for the better. 

In the modern era, badges, microcredentials and certificates give some inkling what an IT worker can and cannot do. 

In a world where machines are becoming exponentially more capable, every job will be impacted. Some in the futurist community are forecasting a postwork future. 

The best career advice is to engage actively and constructively with multiple communities. There is probably a gathering of senior IT professionals in your area. Become part of that. If such a gathering does not exist, start one.


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