World is changing very fast today. You need to be in sync with job market and update your job skills every year, even maybe every couple of months. It is not voluntary any more, it is necessity if you want to survive. I am not sure if it sounds rude when I said we are all selling ourselves to the others. But realistically, this is the case. We are selling our ideas to our friends, colleagues, family, we are selling our knowledge and time to our employer. If you don’t have a good product, good brand, you are not going to be interesting to the market. If I transfer this thinking to job market, it means you need to have skills which are required, up to date and you need to refresh them frequently if you want to be employable. This situation is even truer in IT market. Let me tell you a story about trend in general knowledge and amount of information. Amount of world information is doubling every second year. Some industries are developing faster, some slower, but the fact is that you need to refresh your knowledge every couple of months. IDC Digital Universe study predicts that overall data will grow 50 times by 2020. Study also say that unstructured data (files, video, and email) will account for 90%. Unfortunately for world, but good for us IT professionals is that number of IT people will grow only 1,5 times. According to these and other studies, it is completely clear that we need to be in attitude of constant learning. In 1994/95, I was working on Intel 486 PC at home. At my part job company, I had one text editor on Intel 386, which people used to edit data from news agency program. It was part of Windows for Workgroups 3.1 or 3.11. At home I was using Mathcad 5 to do some calculations for Uni and Quark Express to do some book publishing. Today I am not aware even if these program still exists and which versions are in use. Windows went through Windows 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, XP, Vista, 7 to Windows 8. Somewhere in 1992/93 you could say that you saw and know to use the most of the computer programs which exists in total. Today you can’t count on fingers even just those existing for one area (publishing, music, accounting and etc). You need to specialize and concentrate on one or two most important pieces in your area to be effective. If you are IT professional, you can choose will you go into software or into hardware. You can be interested into software development or software maintenance. You can specialize into some computer language like Java or C# or into some database software like Oracle or MS SQL server. Whatever you choose, you need to learn new version every 1-2 years. You can even decide that you will have 2-3 specialisation, but I would really not suggest to go more than that. My good friend from Belgrade immigrate with his wife to Canada around 1994. At the moment when they moved there, she was working with Clipper, kind of database program, which was at the top of the popularity. She found a job soon, but didn’t learn new technologies. MS access, SQL Server and Oracle show up soon. After couple of years, she went to maternity leave and when she came back, she was not in trend anymore. She lost her job soon. They decided to go with new platforms, and because she didn’t refresh her knowledge, she stayed out of sync with the market. Unfortunately, she is still out of job, because she lost her pace, motivation and energy. When you are late, you need to learn some things from the very beginning and invest much more time to catch up. Opposite to her, remember gladly another, bright example from my previous company. One of my colleagues was very eager to learn everything what his was working with and even more. He was staying every day longer than the others, learning new technologies, playing with new piece of hardware, understanding in concept and in details how does it really work. He had a passion, curiosity and been very thirsty for new knowledge. He was easy employable, always having a bunch of good job offers. He is team lead of 20 people and one of the key technical people in my current company with very bright future. Sometimes things can go very tough, but you need to find a motivation, energy, passion, push yourself very hard, to grow above the crowd of candidates, to come to the top. If you accept positive attitude and responsibility for you and your job, if you plan your skills and knowledge, you will achieve good position in the company and on the market too.
Suggested action points for this week
Think about following:
What are your main skills in job you do ? Is there something what you can learn additionally or you can learn about something more? Is there something what you don’t like to do but you can automate? Is there some area which might be interested for your employer in the future? How do look like job adds for your role on the market ? How big is demand for such role ? Is there some skill which is not useful for current role, but is useful in similar role in the other companies?