Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to Keep your Job in Crisis Times

I receive a bi-weekly news digest from the ACM, called CareerNews, which focuses on news related to IT Carreer Development.

Economical crisis is hitting everyone, menacing our jobs or our growth opportunities. In times like this (and on any other time) is good to be well-informed. I'll be sharing with you the articles digest with what I consider the most relevant news.

Today I'll focus on the articles related to how to keep my job, how to ensure I get the best opportunities.

*I highly encourage you to keep in touch with this news digest, it has helped me keep up-to-date and well prepared: http://www.acm.org/membership/careernews/current

How to Ensure IT Job Security Despite an Economic Meltdown
Tech Careers, November 2008

Despite the steady growth that the technology sector has experienced over the past few years, the declining economy could lead to slower 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 layoffs or increased outsourcing of technology jobs to other countries to save money. As a result, IT professionals will need to adjust their skills to align with changing business demands, learn how to demonstrate their value to employers and find ways to impact the bottom line.

First and most importantly, employers are looking for workers who can provide meaningful results. This is the perfect opportunity for IT staff members to demonstrate their value to the organization by identifying new ways to save money or increase revenue. Workers can also 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. Additionally, IT workers can diversify their skill set and express a willingness to help out wherever needed.

The current period may be the right 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. It is also important for 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, so as to avoid being unprepared in the case of a layoff.

Ten Steps Techies Should Take to Keep Their Jobs in a Financial Meltdown
eWeek, October 10

Against the backdrop of a slowing economy, there are a number of steps that corporate IT professionals can take to increase their job security. With belt-tightening now a common theme -- even in Silicon Valley, IT workers need to focus on practical ways that they can help their company reduce costs. They also need to learn how IT can drive business value throughout the organization and develop the type of peer network that will help them build consensus about important projects. Finally, they need to think about ways that they can position themselves as a generalist rather than a specialist in order to increase their perceived value to an employer.

In order to maximize your value to the organization, you really need to understand not just a specific part of the IT world, but all the technology tools that keep your company running. This is especially true as companies look for utility players rather than specialists in an era of tighter budgets. If possible, try to learn as much about the business and the types of technology projects that can really create value. Also, try to build some personal contacts within the company who can give you an early warning of organizational changes afoot.

How to Re-Skill Yourself for a Higher-Paying IT Job
CIO.com (via Computerworld), November 11

While IT professionals face challenges in switching to a different technical discipline to take advantage of increased demand for a hot skill, there are several ways to make the transition as easy as possible. The easiest path is to convince an employer to pay for online or classroom courses to hone or develop certain skills. However, given current cost constraints, most employers have fewer resources available than they once did to retrain IT workers in different technical fields. With that in mind, the article provides an overview of different opportunities that could lead to higher-paying roles.

While employers may be more willing to provide reimbursement for certain technical certifications, they may not be as willing to support more advanced training opportunities. From the perspective of employers, providing IT staffers with training opportunities can have mixed results. On one hand, a well-rounded technical staff with enhanced knowledge in various disciplines can provide better IT support. On the other hand, as IT workers become more knowledgeable, they also become more marketable, increasing the risk that they will leave for another employer or ask for higher compensation.

To underscore this point, the article profiles an application support supervisor in Michigan, who took advantage of his company’s training program to bolster his supervisory, project management and VMWare skills. In addition, he enrolled in MBA classes at a nearby college. However, after only receiving a 3% raise and being passed over for a promotion, this IT worker took advantage of social networking connections to explore senior systems analyst jobs. After interviewing for a position at a Detroit-area law firm, he received an offer and decided to take the job, since it included a 20% salary increase and better benefits.

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