IT Job Security and complimenting your IT technical skills with non-technical skills

My dad keeps telling me to find a permanent job (instead of contracting), which in his view provides better job security, but I keep telling him that in my view in Information Technology the job security is achieved only by keeping your knowledge and skills sharp and up to date. The 6 contract positions I held over the last 12+ years have given me broader experience. It also kept me motivated since there was always something new to learn in each assignment. These days the world is a much different place, and the meaning of real job security has changed due to globalization, outsourcing, contracting, downsizing, recession, etc. You need to be not only agile to keep up with the on going changes and cultivate marketable skills, but also learn to deal with the lack of job security that everyone must face one time or the other. I have already started to experience this myself from being able to find my successive contracting assignments almost immediately to having 1-2 month gaps for various reasons like competing with lower salaries and rates, over supply, specialized skill requirements, being over qualified, etc. So, you must be prepared to look at the big picture and change your tactics.

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything" -- George Bernard Shaw

Many companies do not appreciate your skills and expertise until you decide to leave. Do the following statements sound familiar to you when you hand in your resignation after getting another job offer? “Can I tempt you to stay? what can I do to keep you here?” etc. You might even think why you waited so long. One of the dilemmas many professionals face is when to jump the ship? versus when to steady the ship? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and the answer depends on the individual circumstances.  Learn more at are you feeling stagnated? Don't make a hasty decision.

The best way to make an impression in any organizations is to understand and proactively apply and resolve the issues relating to the 16 Key Areas discussed. Add value to the business. Love your job, and do your best to accomplish your personal and company goals. Do your work duties with pride of performance as opposed to fear of consequences. Be a team player, be tactful and don’t be critical of everything, do not act in a superior way and have a sense of humor.

What is your goal? Is it to keep the pay checks coming at a steady rate or to advance your career. If your goal is to keep the pay check coming, then you will have a better chance of surviving if you are viewed as indispensable. Just IT skills alone can be easily replaced, but good business knowledge, great soft skills, and right attitude are very hard to replace. Be proactive and develop additional skills and knowledge in areas where others in your department are weak. Take initiatives and be positive when things aren't going well for you or for the company.

If your goal is to advance your career, then expand your network, horizons, and visibility through blogging, self-publishing books, learning new things, developing your own products/services, publishing articles to popular sites, guest speaking, attending industry specific events, etc. Allocate time to regularly review your career progress and set new goals/challenges. It is easy to get into a comfort zone without having any future plans or not acting on your current plan. IT salaries start to plateau in 8 to 10 years unless you have a clearly defined management path. Alternatively, you can build a passive income generating path by converting your network into your clients/customers.This takes time, and better start early. It took me 2.5 years to have 25k unique visitors a month and 1000+ Google+ followers. Competition is fierce and global.

It is a very crowded and competitive world out there. More and more jobs are going overseas, and salaries are under immense pressure. So, you need to be agile enough to change career paths if required. So, it really pays to invest in so called the transferable skills.

What are the transferable skills? Communication skills, problem solving skills, team work skills, time management skills, researching skills, learning skills, leadership skills, job hunting skills, marketing skills, creativity skills, computer skills, etc.

Transferable skills = better employment prospects

“Technical skills must be complemented with good business and transferable skills.” 

Technical skills alone are not sufficient for you to perform well in your interviews and progress in your career. Your technical skills must be complemented with business skills (i.e. knowledge/understanding of the business, ability to communicate and interact effectively with the business users/customers, ability to look at things from the users’ perspective as opposed to only from technology perspective, ability to persuade/convince business with alternative solutions, which can provide a win/win solution from users’ perspective as well as technology perspective), ability to communicate effectively with your fellow developers, immediate and senior management, ability to work in a team as well as independently, problem solving/analytical skills, organizational skills, ability to cope with difficult situations like stress due to work load, deadlines etc and manage or deal with difficult people, being a good listener with the right attitude (It is sometimes possible to have “I know it all attitude”, when you have strong technical skills.

"Love your job but don't love your Company because you may not know when your company stops loving you" -- A p j Abdul Kalam

It is also important to effectively market your skills and services.  Code, draw, and market for your programming career success

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