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  • In a recent feature, we presented 10 IT certifications that result in top-paying technology jobs. Earning one of these certifications, however, doesn't necessarily guarantee a lucrative, long-term career. To build on success over decades, tech employees must also develop soft skills—interpersonal qualities such as leadership and the ability to work well with others. Clearly, they're not to be taken lightly: Ninety-three percent of employers consider a job candidate's demonstrated soft skills as being more important than their undergraduate major, according to research. Your personality and people skills—along with your ability to communicate, negotiate and lead—will dictate 85 percent of your financial success. In addition, one in five employers cite soft skills as a top reason for not hiring someone, and two-thirds of HR managers indicate they'd hire applicants with strong soft skills even if their technology skills were lacking. Have we convinced you? If so, then you'll want to take a look at the following list of 11 crucial soft skills for tech professionals. They demonstrate that soft skills are a direct reflection of your ability to shine as a team member and leader. Our list was adapted from a number of online resources, including BeMyCareerCoach.com and LiveCareer.com.

  • It wasn't that long ago that the CIO's place in the C-suite was questioned, and the role was marginalized by other executives who felt CIOs should just focus on software and hardware. Well, that attitude is nothing compared to the beating chief information security officers (CISOs) take in a recent survey conducted by ThreatTrack Security. The security vendor surveyed more than 200 C-level executives this summer, and the findings indicate that information security leaders have some work to do if they want to earn the respect of their C-level peers. Responding executives made it clear that they do not view CISOs as equals, and they sometimes even blame CISOs for undermining the bottom line. "CISOs are often viewed simply as convenient scapegoats in the event of a headline-grabbing data breach, and they are significantly undervalued for the work they do every day to keep corporate data secure," says Julian Waits, Sr., CEO of ThreatTrack. "This perception needs to change, as CISOs—and the teams that work with them—should be viewed as drivers for business protection and growth." ThreatTrack offers some suggestions for CISOs who want to enhance their image in their company. Among these: Formalize your role; develop and communicate a strong security strategy; forge strong relationships with other C-level execs; and focus on the economic impact of risk and develop metrics that illustrate the financial impact of security efforts.

  • A new report shows that job cuts in technology in the first six months of 2014 are close to the total reached for all of 2013—and could surpass it by year's end.

  • By virtually any standard, Pope Francis has become a beloved and effective world leader. He lives in a modest guesthouse instead of the Apostolic Palace. He wears the same cross he wore when he was a cardinal. And he gave up the famed Mercedes-Benz Popemobile in favor of a 30-year-old Renault. More important, his words and actions have gained favor with a broad range of global citizens, regardless of their faith. The book Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis (Amacom/available in September) frames the life and accomplishments of the pope in the context of today's business environment. Author Jeffrey Krames explains how the pope's humble yet candid approach can be easily adopted by business leaders who need to engage their staff in order to effectively accomplish organizational goals. While Pope Francis is a very likeable figure, history will ultimately evaluate him based on what he accomplishes. The following nine takeaways for IT team leaders are adapted from the lessons highlighted in the book. Krames is CEO and president of JK Literary Services, a publishing and literary agency specializing in leadership, management and business books.

  • The vast majority of U.S. employees queried in a recent survey from CareerBuilder said they aren't earning what they deserve. Most of us, of course, would prefer to make more money. However, these findings demonstrate that professionals' resentment toward their employer could escalate if they conclude that they're constantly being asked to produce more with less, while making less than they should be making. Interestingly, there's apparently a difference between earning what you'd like to make and how much you need to feel successful. This reflects prior survey results Baseline presented that indicate that today's employees are considering alternatives to compensation—such as compelling assignments, flexible schedules and telecommuting options—as job rewards. "Success is relative to the type of work individuals do or their current career stage," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "This is healthy because it shows workers can derive meaning from their work at any level, while still striving for that next promotion or raise." The survey also sheds light on the percent of companies that openly disclose staff salaries and how this practice is perceived. More than 3,370 full-time workers and nearly 2,190 hiring managers and HR professionals took part in the research.

  • Have you always considered yourself management material, but are still waiting for that elusive promotion? It's a universal challenge for employees: Many professionals want to move into management, but there are obviously only so many of those positions available. And organizations need to be circumspect when it comes to making such promotions, especially when you consider the fact that four out of five people who become managers turn out to be wrong for the position, according to industry research. Clearly, if you do get that promotion, you want to be ready for the job. So you may want to read Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders (HarperCollins/available in September). This book provides concrete, actionable guidelines to help you attain a management position—and excel at it. Author Lindsey Pollak positions the book for Gen Y readers, but her advice on presentations, social media, project leadership and professional presence applies to a broad range of demographics. What's key is to understand that to be considered for career advancement, you have to go beyond simply doing your job well. You also have to inspire others to perform better at their jobs. The following nine takeaways were adapted from Pollak's book. She is a speaker and consultant who specializes in career topics for Millennials.

  • If you want to go to a U.S. region where IT career opportunities are on the fast track, head south. The top three states for technology job growth and newly created IT positions are all from that region, rather than from traditional tech meccas such as California, according to recently released research from Dice.com. Surprisingly, the Golden State doesn't even make the following top 10 list of states with growth in IT jobs. And the No. 1 overall state names here also ranks as having the second-largest total workforce of technology professionals (behind California), thanks to a surge of economic development in niches such as mobile, big data and software development, according to the Dice.com findings. But if the South's relatively low cost of living and perpetually warm climate doesn't interest you, don't worry: We've also included high-growth states in the West, North and Midwest. Dice.com is an online jobs and career community for tech professionals. The research was compiled primarily through data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • When it comes to the employment picture, IT is creating a greater number of new positions than it's eliminating, according to recent research published by CareerBuilder. However, the technology industry is the main target for what's called "de-skilled" workers: those whose jobs are being replaced by automation. What's clear is that private industry, federal/state/local governments, and both K-12 and higher educational leaders will have to work together to boost students' interest and capabilities in fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). "While automation may eliminate some jobs, it also creates other jobs that are higher paying, and [that] lifts the standard of living for the economy as a whole," says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. "One of the greatest challenges the U.S. faces today is sufficiently preparing the workforce for the influx of more knowledge-based jobs that will likely result from progress in robotics and other STEM-related fields." Nearly 2,200 hiring managers and HR professionals took part in the research. Additional research was compiled through analysis of more than 785 occupations recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • To get the most out of your professional networking efforts, you need to do more than simply sign up for a LinkedIn group: You have to emerge as a high-profile, helpful and gracious member of your networking communities. However, findings reveal that many professionals make a number of classic mistakes in their networking efforts, according to a recent survey from OfficeTeam. These range from age-old basics such as poor manners (not saying "thanks") to the less obvious (failing to ask for help). It's also important not to limit networking to social media and other online outlets because you can often make a better impression at in-person meetings and business events. "Although networking online can be an effective way to establish professional relationships and keep in touch, the value of in-person activities like meeting for lunch or attending industry events can't be overlooked," says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Whether you're looking to land a new job or build your visibility, every connection counts. These gatherings allow you to put a face to a name." More than 300 U.S. senior managers took part in the research.

  • Good networking is easy networking. The challenge is to find new ways to interact with peers. Here are four networking ideas that go beyond a standard meet-up.

  • Remember when making six figures seemed like an elite level of compensation? These days, this milestone is obtainable for many technology professionals who have the right certifications, according to a survey from Global Knowledge and Penton. In the resulting "2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey" report, eight of the 10 top-ranked certifications average salaries of at least $100,000—and the other two are very close. Money isn't everything, of course. So it's encouraging to see that the skills represented here are empowering tech professionals to take leadership roles in IT project management, software development, security, virtualization, cloud computing and asset management. If you're missing these certifications, you may want to consider taking some classes. Nearly 12,000 U.S. IT and business professionals in North America took part in the research. (Note: Global Knowledge stated that some certifications, such as Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX), are not included in the list due to their "exclusive nature.")

  • As health care insurance and medical costs continue to rise, businesses must begin addressing employee health and wellness issues in a more comprehensive way.

  • Have you ever considered whether it's more important to be smart or resourceful? Do you wonder why some people--and teams--constantly make the same mistakes? Are you challenged daily to deal with endless project demands that always seem to require "a brand new blueprint" to make them work? If so, then the following fall business books promise to help you sort through these and other relevant challenges. The authors represent highly respected academic institutions, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as a long line of well-regarded business and technology leaders. One book conveys the urgency for businesses—even large enterprises—to recreate themselves with the best practices of start-ups. Another provides a more reflective perspective on the profound impact the Internet has had over the last two decades. So pick a title or two (or more) from this list and enjoy a good read that will help you become a more informed, well-rounded professional. These books are also likely to enhance your career prospects. (Release dates are subject to change, so check the listed books' Websites for updates.)

  • IT professionals are seeing paltry gains in average compensation levels this year, according to recent research from Janco Associates and eJobDescription.com. The accompanying report, the "Mid-Year 2014 IT Salary Survey," indicates that salaries are at the same level as they were in 2008, which is somewhat of a half-empty/half-full finding. On the positive side, it means that IT salaries are now comparable to the pre-recession era. On a disappointing note, results reveal that soaring demand for many niche IT skills—coupled with a relatively healthy economy—has not pushed salaries to new highs. Meanwhile, compared to four years ago, there are considerably fewer companies offering a number of valued benefits, such as health insurance, retirement savings plans and performance bonuses. Growth in tech jobs is slowing slightly as well, according to Janco's analysis: There were about 32,200 jobs added from January through May of this year, compared with 36,500 jobs added for the same time period last year. The research was compiled using data from more than 255 large and nearly 810 midsize organizations.

  • While the technology industry employs the largest share of IT workers, sectors such as financial services, health care, manufacturing and retail also offer robust opportunities for IT professionals, according to recent research released by CEB. The accompanying report, titled "Seeing Through the Fog of the Talent War," also tracks top states and cities for tech job openings, and findings reveal that there are plenty of active and appealing metro regions spread throughout the country. The report's title refers to the continued struggles organizations face with regard to the ongoing search and competition for talent, and the majority of CEOs cite skills availability as a major concern. In addition, 85 percent of CEOs feel that technology advancements will have the biggest impact on their companies over the next five years, according to CEB research. Given this situation, CEB presents the following four ways that smart companies manage IT staffing and talent management. The research was compiled through a comprehensive market analysis covering more than 900 cities and 1,000 skills.