Are Your Skills Hot?


By Eileen Feretic

As you probably know, the national unemployment rate reached 9.5 percent last month, with almost half a million jobs lost in June. Of course, IT jobs made up part of that loss, but some tech segments held up better than others, according to workforce analyst firm Foote Partners.

The firm's research revealed that the Data Processing/Hosting/Related Services segment added 600 jobs in June, while Management/Technical Consulting Services lost 1,100 jobs and Communications Equipment lost 2,100.

What I found particularly interesting in the company's news release were the comments of CEO David Foote, who noted that demand trends for specific categories of skills provide a "better indicator of overall performance in the IT workforce." He said the recession has had only a "minimal impact" on the demand for tech skills in areas such as "architecture, business process, security, communications, e-commerce, and several ERP and infrastructure specializations."

"Job security depends more on the particular combinations of skills brought to the job, both hard and soft, not necessarily the job or job title," Foote explained. He added that layoffs identify "those workers whose skills are either not strategic or do not match up well with the work that needs to get done."

The message here is clear: Don't limit yourself by your job title. Find out what skills are most critical and strategic--both in your organization and in the marketplace as a whole--and hone those skills or begin developing them, either on the job or by taking courses.

We're all responsible for our own careers, so we must keep pace with the changing needs of the job market to ensure that our skills remain "hot." After all, if we don't nurture our careers, who will?