Pursuing a career in IT can feel a bit like a double-edged sword. On one hand, there's no doubt the future will be driven by technology.
But on the other hand, the very technology that's driving us forward is constantly evolving - to the extent that companies are increasingly relying on automated solutions.
And there's no word that strikes fear in the heart of IT professionals quite like automation. But how can you ensure your job doesn't get outsourced to an algorithm?
First, Some Perspective
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 65 percent of school children today will go on to be employed in jobs that don't currently exist.
that for a second. More than half of the future workforce will spend their lives doing work that hasn't yet been invented.
So, while it's inevitable that automation will make some roles obsolete (at least in the sense that we know them today), if history proves correct, technology will continue to create more jobs than it eliminates.
Of course, there's no guarantee that this will be the case. In fact, there are plenty of naysayers arguing otherwise, which is all the more reason to begin doing everything you can now to ensure you remain an asset in your industry.
The Formula for Success
Ask any expert and they'll tell you the formula for ongoing success in IT and digital fields relies on the following two factors:
- A willingness to adapt and embrace change
- Continually updating your skills to match the requirements of emerging roles.
If you are opposed to, or uncomfortable with change, this is something you may want to make note of to work on personally. Change management skills are valuable across all industries - and all aspects of life.
When it comes to continually updating your skills, it can sound a bit daunting. But with the following strategies, you can position yourself to have a long career doing what you love.
Five Things You Can Start Doing Now
- Stay current on industry news and trends. To maintain relevance in any field, it's important to remain informed of high-impact trends, newly released guidelines and updated "best practice" standards. This is even more true when it comes to IT - an industry that moves light years faster than most. For example, if you're a digital marketing specialist, it's important to be aware of how "voice-first" technology could potentially impact digital ads.
- Make yourself indispensable. Position yourself as a "subject-matter expert" in your role. This requires that you not only research innovations within relevant technologies, but that you consider which trends are likely to impact your company. While larger (non-tech oriented) organizations are likely to be less agile than their smaller counterparts, you can point out the smaller, less expensive ways to help them shift in the right direction. Regardless of your role, many organizations offer a way to make suggestions, and will appreciate your going above and beyond for the sake of the organization.
- Prove your flexibility. As with many emerging trends, before they're fully embraced by an organization, the responsibilities will fall under the role with the closest job description and skill requirements. This is your opportunity to take ownership of an emerging trend.
- Invest in professional development. You don't have to invest a lot of money in professional development, but it would be worthwhile to invest your time. For example, you could go to industry meetups, local conferences and seminars. Or if you prefer to learn from home, check out blogs written by some of the leaders in the IT and digital industries, or go to YouTube and watch some tutorials. After all, if there's one thing the internet isn't lacking, it's tutorials. So, you no longer have an excuse for not learning that new skill!
- Get certified in new technologies. There are plenty of websites that offer "certifications" for certain skills. But it's important that you do your research to determine which are credible and recognized within your industry. Many times, the cost is nominal and may even be something your company is willing to cover.