The In-Demand Skills for IT Pros
For job seekers and individuals looking to get ahead in IT, one question always seems to be top of mind: What skill sets do employers value most in today’s market? Robert Half Technology staffing and recruiting professionals across the United States are seeing strong demand in a variety of specialties, but a few areas stand out, including:
- .NET development: Those who possess .NET development skills are in particularly strong demand. With renewed budgets in hand, many companies are upgrading old systems, and high on the priority list is the migration to .NET technology. Companies that already rely on Microsoft products are especially motivated to make the shift to .NET.
Because .NET is still relatively new, a limited number of developers have related experience. Therefore, demand for this expertise exceeds supply in some cities. Developers with object-oriented programming skills (such as Java, C, C++ or Visual Basic) often find it easy to learn .NET, so many employers will provide on-the-job training, or they will pay for formal instruction with this software.
- SQL Server development: A company’s ability to process, organize and mine data can be critical to its competitiveness. Many companies are turning to SQL Server Reporting Services to manage their data, which is creating demand for database administrators and developers skilled with this application, particularly those familiar with SQL Server 2005. Experienced professionals are needed to manage everything from database planning and development to data modeling and performance optimization. Employers also value knowledge of SQL Server security issues, as well as backup and recovery strategies.
- Windows 2003 Server administration: In the just-released Robert Half Technology 2007 Salary Guide, chief information officers said the technical skill set most in demand in their IT departments is Microsoft Windows (Server 2000/2003) administration. Companies seek candidates with previous Windows 2003 Server experience, including Active Directory and Exchange 2003 administration skills, to oversee daily administration, system upgrades, troubleshooting and backups, among other responsibilities.
Landing the Job
You’ll have more leverage in the employment market if you possess high-demand skills. That doesn’t always guarantee you’ll secure your ideal position, however. Employers seek IT professionals with well-rounded abilities who can present their qualifications effectively during the hiring process. Here are some strategies for doing just that:
- Be specific: Make it easy for hiring managers to understand your qualifications. Create a special section on your resume that lists your technical skills. Then use your work history to provide concrete examples of how you have used those technologies. Don’t forget to mention any training in progress. The fact that you’re enrolled in a .NET class, for instance, might be just enough to capture employers’ interest.
- Don’t undervalue soft skills: Hiring managers look for IT professionals who not only have strong technical expertise but also can communicate effectively and work well with others. Your job application materials provide the ideal opportunity to showcase your writing abilities and offer examples of being a team player. Use the interview to demonstrate your interpersonal skills and professionalism.
- Know the business: Companies today seek IT professionals who can make effective business decisions and offer solutions to problems. When promoting your skills with employers on paper or in person, demonstrate you understand how to apply business knowledge to your IT role. For instance, you might note that you have a record of developing applications that offer practical solutions to operational challenges or making cost-effective purchases that enable firms to remain on the cutting edge in their industries.
Possessing a “hot skill” can open doors to many opportunities in the current hiring environment. If you lack expertise in these areas, consider enrolling in courses toward a certification or gaining on-the-job experience.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.