From soft skills to assessments: 3 pillars of a rewarding career in the ever-evolving world of IT

6 pillars of a rewarding career in the ever-evolving world of IT-1

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Capella University. The opinions and text are all mine.

By its simplest definition, IT (information technology) entails “the scope of storing, retrieving, transmitting and manipulating data”. And while all of this sounds highfalutin, humans have actually been “storing, retrieving, manipulating and communicating information” since the invention of writing around 5,000 years ago. But of course, beyond history, in its modern context, IT is significantly more complex. So before delving into the three pillars of success in this ever-changing scope, here are some statistical data that pretty much sum up the importance of IT professionals and aspirants in the coming years.

The IT Crowd, And Predictions For The Near Future:

Suffice it to say, the modern context of IT brings forth the applications of computer, storage technology and networking – to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. But there is one more crucial ingredient missing from the aforementioned definition: the people who lie at the heart of the IT world. In other words, it is people with their particular skill-sets who hold the key to the future of IT industry, a scope (including telecom and IT spending) worth an astronomical $3.8 trillion – predicted for 2015; which is more than the GDP of Germany, the world’s fifth largest economy! The metric here, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows the occupational growth and wages of folks involved in computer systems design (and services), and how they fare (and would fare) in comparison to other industries by the year 2020.

IT_Capela_1

Furthermore according to the BLS, between 2001 and 2011, employment in computer systems design (and related services) increased by a whopping 232,300 jobs or 18 percent – in spite of the dot-com crash in 2000. And these rising figures actually support the constantly evolving nature of the IT industry. The following chart by the BLS predicts even more dramatic growth in the employment of both systems and applications software developers for the years between 2010 and 2020:

IT_Capela_2

And by the year 2022, computing and related industries will have more than 1.2 million job openings, predicts the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). According to a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), as of 2015, only around 25 percent of computing-related occupations in the U.S. workforce were held by women. To improve the situation, universities as well as tech companies around the globe are increasingly trying to bridge the gender gap with the help of a variety of incentives. And it seems to be working! For instance, nearly 32-percent of the students enrolling in IT programs at the Minnesota-based, online school, Capella University are females.

The phenomenal growth of the IT industry in recent years means that one has to inculcate special skills and qualities beyond conventional expertise, in order to stay ahead of the curve. Below are three important elements for a rewarding career in information technology:

1) The Emerging Values of Soft Skills

A skill-set by its very definition points to a set of traits or qualities. And while core IT skills, like coding, mathematical knowledge and technical expertise are pretty much expected from a candidate, these should be accompanied by what are known as soft skills. Ranging from inculcating a team-based approach to adapting to the evolving nature of the IT landscape, the soft skills serve as complementary advantages that are crucial to the balanced career growth of an IT worker. Here is an amazingly detailed infographic, created by Capella University in collaboration with Yahoo, which lists the 12 most important soft skills that one should possess to stay ahead of the curve. To view the infographic in its entirety, click here or head over to the bottom of the post.

Soft-skills-required-in-the-IT-industry

2) Success = Hard + Soft Skills

We talked about how the future of the IT industry is largely dependent on the people (aspirants as well as professionals) who possess the required skill set – as suggested by the statistical data. But what exactly are these skill sets and how can they be acquired? Well, the answer pertains to the ever-changing nature of the IT world. For example, according to DOL (updated in 2010) ‘over 90% of IT workers are performing jobs outside the IT industry’. So the skill-set relating to this scope not only entails the academic and conventional mastery of computer applications, mathematics and so on, but also encompasses additional knowledge about the person’s associated business sector, like healthcare, education and finance.

This brings to the next, equally important question. How does one develop these skills for a successful IT career? Qualities like creativity, teamwork, analytic ability, learning agility and others can be honed with the help of advanced degrees as well as volunteering. The key here is to step outside one’s comfort zone and face varying environments, which would in turn allow you to inculcate such skills as communication, teamwork, prioritization, organizational awareness and so on. Surveys in the past have shown that IT professionals are in general more introverts than otherwise. In addition to fostering long-term business relationships, networking with others in the industry facilitates the development of good communication and social interaction skills.

3) Pre-Employment Assessments

These days, many IT companies prefer that job seekers take pre-employment assessments in order to make the hiring process more efficient. The assessments are built to evaluate aspects of the applicant’s personality such as social traits, soft skills, verbal and logical reasoning as well as mathematical abilities. One such assessment is offered by CEB. Their online assessments allow companies to determine the employability of candidates with respect to specific industries.

Typically purchased by Fortune 500 companies for their employees, the CEB IT Talent Assessment in now available to readers of this blog for free, compliments of Capella University. The assessment is designed to help IT professionals understand their likely strengths and development needs in regards to the 12 soft skills covered in the infographic. To get started, take the CEB assessment here. To learn more about Capella and its various programs, head over to the university’s Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube pages.

Soft-skills-required-in-the-IT-industry

See graduation rates, median student debt and other information at http://capellaresults.org/outcomes.asp. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Capella University. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Capella University. The opinions and text are all mine.

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