Last year, a wave of panic buzzed through Silicon Valley when the news hit that three high-tech businesses planned to lay off a total of 48,000 personnel. More recently, at the beginning of August, information technology giant Cisco Systems announced it too would let 4,000 employees go.
In a time when the economy is rebounding and information technology drives social and economic developments across the globe, why the massive layoffs? And more specifically, since the overall number of positions in the tech hubs of San Francisco and Silicon Valley are rising, why would companies let experienced personnel go? Isn’t it illogical to commit to recruitment costs while simultaneously spending money on buy-outs and placement services?
Unfortunately, the explanation is a logical one, albeit one that many might consider unfair. Companies want to replace experienced—and more expensive—workers with fresh, inexpensive talent. According to Robert Withers, a career counselor in Silicon Valley, “There’s definitely a sense that companies are looking for younger and cheaper.”
Does this mean that if you’re not fresh out of school, you should be worried?
Probably not. It’s important to realize that Silicon Valley is home to those companies that design the most advanced technologies in the world, so it’s no surprise they’re looking for those with current skills: young talent who know how to navigate anything from the cloud and apps to mobile platforms and social media, and come up with increasingly innovative solutions. Think Mark Zuckerberg and the Big Bang Theory. If that’s not you, then the good news is that Silicon Valley isn’t the only market for IT jobs. In fact, in our 21st century cyber society, you’d be hard pressed to find a market that doesn’t need IT people. Information technology is always among the top three industries that stand out in the job market and, according to Computerworld, the number of surveyed executives who plan to hire for IT positions in the upcoming 12 months has grown consistently over the past 4 years.
Hot IT Skills
No matter where you are in your IT career, it’s good to be aware of what skills are currently in high demand. The following list of hot IT skills is a good place to start.
- App development: Apps have been hot for the last couple of years, and they don’t look like they’ll be cooling off for the foreseeable future. Numerous companies are looking to develop apps to offer better and faster service to their end-users, and they all need developers who know how to create those apps.
- Programming: With the economy rebounding, companies are taking on larger and more ambitious projects. Software developers and programmers play a vital role in the quest to cut costs and increase productivity, since companies will replace expensive and fallible human labor with relatively inexpensive and infallible technology if they can.
- Big data analytics: Though big data remains one of the highest priorities for large corporations, finding professionals with the right skill set to handle it is still a challenge. If you have a strong mathematical and statistical background and can combine that with technical understanding and business know-how, your chances of finding a job are higher than average.
- Mobile and device management: With many companies encouraging the use of devices, the demand for mobile and device management and security is booming. Data loss prevention, monitoring systems and other methods of protecting proprietary corporate information are becoming increasingly more important.
- Security: Though security has always been a major concern for the IT world, it’s risen to a whole new level with trends such as cloud-based storage, device usage and remote access. On top of that, cyber criminals develop more sophisticated phishing, hacking and data leakage methods every day. Skilled professionals who can be proactive instead of reactive are in high demand to safeguard organizations’ networks.
- Network administration: From shared volumes to remote discs and from email accounts to user-generated data, network administration is a complex and precise skill. Those with years of experience in the field are best advised to regularly update their skills to incorporate the most recent technological advances.
- Data center management: Whether it’s on site or in the cloud, every organization needs to store, manage and backup its data. IT professionals with experience in functional skills such as server and data management remain in high demand.
- Technical support: Both for employees and consumers, technical support is a vital part of many companies’ operations. System problems, security glitches and server issues are all challenges best left to the professionals instead of expecting other employees to try to resolve them.
- Cloud/SaaS: With data storage making the leap from on-site to on the cloud, companies need specialists to architect and manage their storage. From hosting and configuring to servicing and backing up, cloud skills are going to become more important in the future.
- Virtualization: Though the concept has been around for some time, the number of professionals who are adequately proficient in virtualization are few and far between. Those who understand the leap from the physical connection to the virtual and remote source are invaluable to those companies either producing or utilizing virtual services.
By keeping your IT skills sharp and up-to-date, you can make yourself far more attractive to those hiring. Just remember to update your resumé, so what you present on paper is as cutting edge as the knowledge in your head.
Credit – Kelly Services – November 8th, 2013.