With the increase of technology in the workplace comes a need for those who understand it. This means more companies are seeking the services of technicians with experience in programming, network architecture, data storage, web development, and other skills.
Understandably, IT and technology careers are currently in high demand. Employment in computer and IT fields is expected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, creating an estimated 531,200 new jobs. As the demand for individuals who understand cloud technology, cybersecurity, and data storage increases, students continue to pursue sought-after technology positions.
The technology industry seems to change as much as it grows. Hardware is updated and re-released, software is upgraded to a new version, and accreditations lapse as platforms change. Anyone interested in maintaining a successful IT career should take steps to future-proof their skills, to stay on top of technology as it evolves.
Consult the recommendations below, to future-proof your IT skills as technology changes.
Keep an eye on advancing technology
It’s easier to adapt to evolving technologies if you can see the changes coming in advance. Before new digital trends define the industry, IT professionals should take the time to understand new concepts and what they mean for their industry.
Web developers, technicians, programmers, and other individuals with IT careers should keep an eye on advancing technology. This includes new initiatives in digital sustainability — how digital strategies can contribute to long-term sustainability goals. Many other technological advancements include progressions in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) programs, both of which help companies automate tasks to increase efficiency and reduce the possibility of human error.
Embrace changes and challenges
Inevitably, changes in technology also mean new challenges to overcome. For example, new developments in digital sustainability mean that companies now must account for the environmental impact of their actions. Advancements in AI — though eventually beneficial in the workplace — can mean that all employees must be trained to correctly use new systems.
Future-proofing your skills also means understanding and preparing for shifts toward remote work. Many employees enjoy the freedom and enhanced productivity that a remote environment can offer, though the work-from-home environment can present a whole new set of challenges for IT professionals.
As companies embrace remote work environments, remote monitoring and management (RMM) services are a viable IT solution for employees. RMM programs alert IT of potential issues, while connecting employees with resources to help them manage their technology. As technology continues to evolve, RMM services will play a large role in connecting employees working remotely with proven IT solutions.
Expand upon your hard and soft skills
Certain skills are especially important for people working in IT and technology. Future-proofing your IT abilities means prioritizing these hard and soft skills, so that you’re ready to adapt along with the technology you use. In particular, these critical IT skills can include:
- Coding, the use of HTML, C++, Java, and other programming languages to build successful platforms as they evolve;
- Problem-solving, the use of creative solutions to overcome any challenges caused by changes in technology;
- Database administration, the maintenance of a database that securely stores data for quick use whenever employees need it;
- Communication, the effective correspondence between IT professionals, team members, employees, and clients to implement efficient IT strategies;
- Decision-making, the ability to assess options and make decisions in the best interest of technology users.
Professional development opportunities for IT and tech
The right development opportunities can help IT professionals further their understanding of the industry and maintain sharp skill sets. These opportunities can include certifications — like the below options — that keep your knowledge of IT applications fresh:
- CompTIA A+;
- Google IT Support Professional Certificate;
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA);
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP);
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
In addition to the above accreditations, some IT professionals also join certified organizations. These associations provide opportunities for further networking, and allow IT employees to learn from each other. IT professionals looking to join an organization should consider the following options:
- The Association of Information Technology Professionals;
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers;
- Information Security Systems Association;
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association.
The right combination of organization membership and certifications can help IT professionals future-proof their IT skill sets.
Be mindful of your digital footprint
IT professionals looking to future-proof their skill sets should also remain mindful of their digital footprint. Today, recruiters often take time to comb through an applicant’s digital footprint — including any publicly accessible social media profiles, shopping history, and newsletter subscriptions — when determining their candidate for hire.
Especially in a digital era, where an individual’s online comments, images, and posts are visible to the public, IT professionals should preserve a clean digital footprint that speaks to their strengths.
Steps to maintain a clean digital footprint can include:
- Restricting the amount of your data that is publicly visible;
- Deleting old social media accounts;
- Avoiding unsafe websites;
- Declining online requests to share your location, username, private images, or other personal details;
- Protecting health records behind firewalls.
These and other steps can help protect your online data, allowing your digital footprint to contribute to a strong, professional personality in the eyes of recruiters.
Develop a professional network
Networking among IT professionals is one of the quickest employees can gain credibility in the technology space. You can develop quality contacts in the industry, which can someday serve as employers, employees, references, or sources of insight.
IT professionals who develop a quality network can advance their careers, gain confidence, and earn friendships with individuals of similar interests. If you’re looking to actively network, here are a few tips:
- Use recognized networking websites like LinkedIn to identify and connect with other IT professionals;
- Offer resources of value to potential new contacts to increase your response rates;
- Attend local networking events for IT professionals;
- Follow up with new networking contacts after your first interaction to continue fostering a mutually beneficial relationship;
- Demonstrate your value as a contact by prioritizing important events, questions, and issues that other IT professionals are facing.
One of the most important things to remember when developing a professional network is a simple tip: stay genuine. Finding new business contacts and broadening your network is a lot like finding new friends: keep things simple and let your personality shine.
Be aware of tech’s global reach
Today’s digital age requires that IT professionals maintain a global mindset. Technology can reach individuals across the planet, regardless of their location. As long as users maintain an internet connection and a means of communication, technology can influence anyone, anywhere.
Sustaining a global mindset means staying aware of technology’s reach, and its limits. Sometimes, it means opening yourself up to the possibility of outsourcing your business. This will allow qualified professionals in other locations to help you satisfy daily tasks, and further the success of your business.
The global reach of technology also requires that IT professionals learn to work effectively with team members in other locations. This collaboration isn’t always easy, given differences in time zones, spoken languages, and project management styles. Still, future-proofing your IT skills means accounting for tech’s global reach, and its ability to influence users across the world.