I am the “technology guy” at The InSource Group. Over the years it has been interesting to observe many of the conversations that take place with individuals interviewing for a new job as they discuss their competitiveness in the job market with our recruiting staff.
Recently, a few of my peers in the industry have asked me about how to prepare for the next role they aspire to. Quite simply, I suggest that the answer is to never stop learning. Furthermore, I submit that if you don’t work to enhance your skills and knowledge, you will become obsolete entirely too quickly.
Technology is a particularly dynamic field. In one of our recent blog postings about the last twenty years in technology, “What a long, great trip it’s been,” I was struck by how much things have changed in a short number of years. For example, our office infrastructure today makes significant use of “cloud computing” in our business model, yet this trend only recently came into play around 2008.
If one does not invest in learning about how to implement new and useful technologies, their value to any employer is significantly reduced. While keeping up with new and current best practices, technologies and trends can be like trying to hit a moving target, it is imperative to maintain and enhance your working skill set.
According to Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
So, how does one stay flexible? Here are a few suggestions I try to follow to increase my value to my employer:
• Foster and build a “big picture” perspective: keep in mind your company’s overall goals and integrate that with your specific planning and tasks
• Create and maintain a professional development plan
• Be active in your specific technology community through user groups, conferences and publications
• Communicate with your corporate leadership regarding policies on continuing education, what new directions your company may be going, etc.
• Keep certifications current, such as MCSE, CISSP, etc
• Take classes on new and related skills that support your professional growth
• Experiment with new technologies/platforms when possible
• Watch for and monitor new trends in your industry
• Position yourself to take advantage of those trends through analysis of their applicability to your specific job responsibilities and work environment
• Work with a recruiter to keep you informed of what is happening with jobs and candidates with similar skill sets
Simply doing your job is not enough. You have to be ready to do whatever your job will entail tomorrow.