Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Improve Your IT Skills to Meet Market Demands


A recent Dice blog gave tips on preparing for gearing up a 2015 tech job search. Two steps stood out among
the rest: “Research What Your Skills Will Earn You” and “Consider More Certification”. General image scrub
not withstanding, do you know the market value of your skills? Do you know which additional certifications and
training will increase that value and give you greater relevancy to market demands?
Finding out what your skills are worth to the market is a lot like getting ready to sell your home. Often times,
there is disparity between what you think it’s worth and what the market says it’s worth. Discovering the market
value of a skill is a relatively simple task and there are several free resources available. Dice publishes an

annual IT Skill and Salary survey
, as does Global Knowledge and Ranstad’s 2014 IT Workplace Trends and
Salary Guide is available for download through
CIO magazine. Of course, you can always reference the
Bureau of Labor Statistics’
Occupational Outlook Handbook or The National Association of Colleges and
Employers’
job-seeker calculator for customized median salary information. In short, you need to know how
much your skills are worth in today’s market. In this appraisal, don’t give yourself “points” for years of
experience yet—just find out what the skill is worth to potential employers.
 
Returning to the house analogy, your realtor has just handed you a list of suggested improvements that will
provide an excellent return on your investment by bringing in a higher sale price. This concept also applies to
your career. Consider taking on continuing education and adding certifications to improve your marketability.
While you’re finding out what the skills you have are worth, take a look at the other positions and specialties in
the IT market. Do the prerequisites apply to your experience and skill set? Can you qualify for these positions if
you add certifications to your resume? You need to find out what it will take to get to the next level. Resources
like CompTIA’s
interactive career roadmap, give you a vendor-neutral look at how to prepare to get where you
want to be in your career. This is where you get to factor in your experience. When you review the
prerequisites, your starting point should be apparent—and it’s not always at the very beginning.
 
In the IT market, it appears that longevity is less of a critical factor than it was in the past. Before a recruiter or
potential employer considers your 15 years’ experience, they are scanning your resume for keywords relating
to your skills, experience and credentials. If the magic words (and matching skills) are not in your resume,
discussing your experience with a prospective employer may be a harder goal to reach than it should be.

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