The U.S. Department of Labor recently listed the IT and computer systems design industry as among the economy?s largest and fastest growing sources of new employment. The DOL also projected that employment in the IT field will grow by more than 1.5 million jobs during the next seven to 10 years.
However, the influx of recent graduates and transitioning professionals may cause a flood of new, cost-effective applicants. So it?s especially important in today?s tough economic environment for senior-level IT professionals to find ways to recession-proof their careers. Here are some guidelines for managers and professionals who want to stay viable in their careers and increase their job security.
Network like crazy. Most people have heard the adage, ?It?s not what you know, it?s who you know.? That has never been truer than it is in today?s economy. There are several national associations for IT professionals, including the Association of Information Technology Professionals (www.AITP.org), the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (www.NACCB.org) and the Information Technology Association of America (www.ITAA.org). These associations offer conferences, meetings and Webinars at which technology professionals can meet others in their industry to upgrade their skills and make connections.
It?s also beneficial to join organizations outside the IT profession, such as a local business council or other general networking groups. These types of associations connect the best and brightest business professionals, who share their lessons and experiences.
Read everything. It?s essential to stay up to date on the technology field. Read journal articles and trade magazines: They will keep you abreast of updates within the industry, as well as provide news about other companies and what they are doing to gain a competitive edge by implementing technology. Learn from their successes and failures, and adapt new tactics to your current position.
The local newspaper is also a great source of career information. You can learn about other companies in your community and what they are doing. Also read the paper looking for general business trends that may be useful in updating your current job skills.
Hit the books.Education does not have to be full time. Most colleges and universities offer night courses, online programs and even one-day seminars.
And keep in mind that there are more than just four-year colleges with relevant content. You should also look into local extension programs, community colleges and technical schools.
Another option is to study other fields. For example, you could take marketing or general business courses.
While nothing can guarantee job security, these pointers can help you refocus and re-energize your career, providing you with additional security during the current economic downturn.
Nancy Salzman is the assistant director of business, management and legal education at the University of California, Irvine Extension. She is responsible for the planning and development of the school?s current certificate and specialized programs and for the creation of new programs required by the business community.