"Managers also have to sit down with people on their teams and get a gauge on how satisfied they are with their jobs," he adds. "Pay attention to work-life balance. Most managers want to address concerns before [employees] come in and just resign."
And while quality assurance is still very important in the software development life cycle, demand for QA specialists has slumped a bit as organizations are asking software developers to do their own QA work. As a result, "we have seen a decrease in [demand for] black box testing skills to a degree," Reed says.
Demand is also declining for skills tied to other technologies that seem to be on the way out, such as Windows XP, BlackBerry OS and desktop publishing tools used by technical writers, Reed says.
Nonetheless, Abla says, many job seekers still tout outdated experience. "There are people saying, 'I'm Microsoft certified and a good Windows server admin.' That was interesting five years ago, but not now," he says.
The same goes for many IT professionals who specialize in networking and operating systems. "You see people that have 'camped' there and haven't noticed the changes in the industry. Their resumes and experience show they've sat around and are now asking to be picked up and moved forward," Abla says. "It's not likely that I'm going to do that for them."
Changes in the skills that are in demand are happening more rapidly than ever, Abla warns. "You don't get five years to figure it out," he says. "You get months to figure it out."
In the last quarter of 2013 alone, the market values of some noncertified IT skills declined 10% or more, according to Foote. He says there have been notable declines in the value of a variety of disciplines, including application development specialties such as agile programming and rapid application development (RAD); Oracle application server and database expertise; skills related to e-procurement and other management processes and methodologies; Mac OS X expertise; LAN and IPX/SPX networking skills; expertise in systems such as VMware's vCloud, IBM's Tivoli, and SAP and other ERP applications; and e-commerce development specialties involving the use of Microsoft Commerce Server, XHTML MP and JavaBeans/EJB 3.0.
But Foote points out that "just because something's going down in value doesn't mean it's not desired; it just means that supply is catching up to demand."
Abla, who consults for EMC at dozens of large corporate IT departments in Texas, brings up yet another concern when it comes to keeping skills up to date: the danger that some IT roles might be removed from the enterprise entirely.
"I've got a number of customers saying they want to be out of the IT business altogether in the next three to five years," he says. "They want their application development people to get what they need from a service or cloud provider, and then go develop the app without having a staff of people managing servers and storage."
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