5 skills you need to get a job in tech

With technology, it’s important to be up-to-date. But the secret to your ultimate success may depend on an entirely different set of skills: smoothness.

The white hot job market of the past few years is finally showing signs of cooling off. This is especially true in the technology sector, where layoffs at many big-name companies grab the headlines. Uncertainty about what the economy will hold for the coming year could be due to some changes.

That has created concern and uncertainty among job seekers—especially members of younger generations who have recently started their careers or will soon. Suddenly, young people are wondering if they made a mistake in pursuing a career in tech, unlike the anxieties experienced by older generations like me in the wake of the dot-com crash of the early 2000s.

But the good news is that many IT technology companies are still looking to hire. Additionally, more companies in a variety of related industries are looking for new talent as technology skills are becoming more in demand than ever.

According to the recent Human Resources Group Employment Outlook survey, 64% of employers in the IT industry plan to hire in the first quarter of 2023, and 78% say they are struggling to find the talent they need to fill these roles. And that information does not include opportunities for IT roles at companies outside of the IT industry.

“Large companies like Google, Microsoft and others are realigning their workforces and focusing them to better align with their core product and growth initiatives,” said Christine Keefer, senior vice president of Experis Practice, part of ManpowerGroup. “Launches from big tech companies have introduced some great talent to the market that other companies can take advantage of. There are still plenty of signs that opportunities in tech will continue in 2023 and beyond.”

In fact, Exper recently announced a “Disabling the Job Cuts” campaign, aiming to challenge global layoffs and change the narrative around the number of jobs available in tech. Through the program, Experts plans to connect with 50,000 job seekers in the technology sector.

I caught up with Kiefer for an email interview to get her insights on how members of the younger generation who want to pursue IT careers can prepare themselves to land their dream job no matter what happens to the economy.

IT jobs are booming in the future.

The threat of a recession has caused more than a few companies to reduce their hiring process altogether. But the net employment outlook for technology-related jobs remains strong. According to a January 2023 hiring survey by Manpower Group/Experts, 64% of employers in the IT industry expect to add to their workforce in the first quarter of 2023.

Employment prospects look brighter in the long run. In the year By 2025, 149 million new digital jobs are expected to be created in areas such as privacy and trust, cyber security, data analytics, machine learning and AI, cloud, data and software development.

At the same time, Kiefer said, forecasts that 50 percent of the workforce will need reskilling by 2025 as the pace of technology adoption increases.

“As companies continue to expand and improve their digital experiences for customers, employees and business partners, we expect to see continued opportunities in cloud, cybersecurity, AI and machine learning, as well as application development,” she said.

Put another way, tech jobs in all industries will remain hot and in-demand for the foreseeable future.

Smooth skill gap crossing

But as demand for workers with tech skills continues to rise, companies continue to report that they simply can’t find enough workers with the skills they need. This has led many employers to look for ways to help new hires bridge this skills gap.

“Many companies offer payment for training and certifications, and many staffing and consulting services firms like ours and others offer training opportunities at no cost to candidates and consultants,” Kiefer says.

Companies and organizations can partner with colleges and universities to offer internship opportunities or participate in activities like hack-a-thons or coding competitions.

The downside is that the skills gap is not just about tech skills. Kiefer says that 78% of employers report difficulty in finding employees with the right combination of hard and “soft” skills, which I like to call “professional” skills.

The top five soft skills employers are looking for today are:

  1. Creativity and originality
  2. Critical thinking and analysis
  3. Leadership and social influence
  4. Reasoning and problem solving
  5. Reliability and self-discipline

“While most training focuses only on technical skills and certifications, many employers highlight soft skills gaps as one of the biggest challenges in recruiting and engaging talent. Collaboration (83%) and problem-solving (82%) are critical to doing a good job.”

“Companies and IT staff should consider engaging in training and skills to improve these critical areas to better leverage technical expertise in ways that help drive the business and support the organization.”

Ensuring your future career

When I asked Kiefer what advice she would give to young workers still at risk of losing their jobs, she shared three pieces of advice.

The first was to be familiar with trends and take the time to ensure that they are proficient in technology and competencies expected to grow.

“This may mean taking the initiative outside of work hours to develop yourself for the future,” she says. “This should be an ongoing process for anyone in the tech industry. It’s a worthwhile investment in your time and future-proofs your value.”

Her second piece of advice is to invest time in gaining valuable experience through internships or hands-on learning.

“Coming to the workforce with hands-on experience, code samples and education to share with your employers can make a difference in landing the right opportunity,” she says.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, members of the younger generation need to develop the soft/professional skills employers are looking for, she said.

“Many employers are identifying key gaps in their workforce and soft-skill candidates, many of whom find that their technical capabilities are critical to an employee’s successful contribution to an organization,” Kiefer says. Employers see these skills as a way to identify talent and can be a critical factor in job acquisition, retention and promotion. Take the opportunity to develop and develop these skills as you enter the workforce – the good news is that these skills can be developed before entering the workforce and are highly transferable.

Making the best of a bad situation

Even if someone is in the unfortunate situation of losing their job, the goal is to use that as an opportunity to evaluate their skills and use the time off to use training and professional companies.

It’s also a good time to reach out to your professional and personal networks to help make connections with companies or opportunities.

Kiefer suggests that embracing flexibility in your career is also critical to maintaining your skills. “Considering opportunities with staffing and consulting companies, in addition to direct work opportunities, gives you the opportunity to work with different top companies and be exposed to different projects and teams,” she says. “This can be a great option when you want to figure out your next steps and decide what’s most important to you.”

The future looks bright

While things may seem uncertain and unclear at the moment, especially in the tech world, macro trends paint a clearer picture of the types of skills that will grow in demand over the next decade. Far from the gloom, the future of technology looks bright.

And for those who take steps today to learn this combination of technology and professional skills, it looks even brighter. Current and future job seekers interested in technology have every reason to look forward to the kind of career they both want and deserve.

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