What qualities might make a particular IT job role a safe bet in what has been and will continue to be an unpredictable labor market? Based on the results of its 2006 IT Professional Salary and Skills Pay surveys, research firm Foote Partners has identified some vocations that offer job security.
In the past, Foote Partners used the term “hot” to characterize these occupations’ prospects but has opted for the term “in play” of late for semantic reasons, said David Foote, the organization’s CEO and chief research officer. “We decided that the way to describe a hot job is not to say ‘hot,’ because hot is like Paris Hilton now—what does that mean? So instead we call them in-demand or in-play jobs, meaning that as far as internal hiring is concerned, these are your best bets. They’re the most offshore- or outsource-proof. If you’re a manager or decision-maker, then these are the jobs where you’re going to have to adjust pay for the long haul and create career paths for.”
These professions can be divided into three broad categories. The first group is enabler jobs, which usually require high levels of both enterprise and technical knowledge, and often involves exposure to confidential organizational information. This collection would include IT architects, business analysts and project managers. “My favorite category would be an enabler job,” Foote said. “Enabler jobs are usually focused on IT business alignment and enablement, and keeping the business goals and technology in lockstep. Basically, you’re not going to give that to an outsider, because now you’re talking about highly confidential, family-jewels kinds of stuff.”
The second group, which is more focused on clients and consumers, is comprised of jobs such as help desk specialists, applications developers, and enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management professionals. “There’s been a big budget swing back to products and services,” Foote said. “Customer-facing jobs are really back in a big way. Employers have shifted a lot of their resources in 2005 and going into 2006 from infrastructure-centric regulatory stuff to new products and services and customer-support systems. You’re not going to outsource anything that requires customer- or industry-savvy workers.”
Finally, certain jobs in the infrastructure category will be relatively secure in the coming years. Some of these include security managers and forensics specialists, wireless engineers, disaster recovery experts and Storage and SANs administrators. “The infrastructure jobs, especially those that support online computing systems, continue to show strong demand, but there’s still a lot of spending on security and compliance requirements, even though we’re past the date on that,” Foote said. “There’s still a lot of spending on building bulletproof IT infrastructures and processes. You can outsource some of the infrastructure stuff, but I think Web-enabled business models are locked in for the long haul in a lot of companies, and now even a little downtime on these systems can have a huge impact on revenues and, more importantly, shake customer confidence.”
Foote explained that the one of the keys for a satisfying career was selecting an in-play job—not just for the financial stability, but also for peace of mind. “If you work in the IT world, you’re thinking about how to keep your job and you’re also thinking about how to get forward in your career,” he said. “The worst thing you want to do is point your career toward insecure jobs—those that are not in play. Nobody wants to be in a job where they’re nervous every minute of the day as to whether their job is going to be outsourced.”
For more information, see www.footepartners.com.