Given all of the bad news for job seekers over the past several months, finding a bit of good news is refreshing. The good news is that the Department of Labor statistics significantly misrepresent the number of IT positions available in the U.S. According to Foote Partners, a recognized leader in forecasting the demand for IT skills and certifications, “We believe there are approximately 20 to 25 million IT professionals in the U.S. compared to the government’s antiquated definition of about 4 million.” Missing are all the people working outside of IT departments; in business lines and in corporate departments, doing both strategic and tactical work.
What this means for employment prospects is expanded opportunities for technologists who truly understand the inner workings of a business. These individuals have an advantage over those in IT who are entirely technology focused. Business-savvy IT professionals are typically better aligned with organizational needs and more aware of business expectations. They work directly with business users and have a clear understanding of business processes and the roles of both people and technology in those processes. They understand and respect the complexities that exist outside of technical environments. Most importantly, they directly connect their activities with those things valued by the organization.
The question you should be asking is, “What expertise will companies value in 2010 and beyond?” The answer is: in-depth industry, customer, product, business, and business application knowledge and experience.
IT professionals too frequently dismiss, devalue, or fail to recognize their business and applications knowledge. They see their value and contributions in terms of the tools and technologies with which they are skilled, and view learning about the business as a step in getting to the real job of designing, developing, and implementing technical solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Knowledge of and experience with business applications is as important as technical expertise.
Consider a healthcare employer seeking a database developer for their claims management systems. You have lots of Oracle experience but the employer uses SQL Server. If you rely entirely on technology, your resume goes unnoticed. If your resume also highlights your claims processing experience including the fact that you have worked extensively with Common Electronic Data Interchange (CEDI) for Medicare claims, you now hit the mark. The wise employer will elect to teach an Oracle developer to work with SQL Server, rather than to teach a SQL developer the healthcare industry. It is faster, easier, and cheaper.
There is no better time than now to make a comprehensive list of the business knowledge and skills that you have that can provide value to an organization. Once noted, you have the tools to narrow the gap between what you offer and what organizations want. Planning for the future means taking charge now. Recognize what you have and what you need to learn to participate in this tremendous opportunity.