Technology, especially business software, evolves quickly and dramatically. In just a few years we have seen applications such as Dropbox, Google Docs and Skype for Business become essential to many industries. What is more, in 2013 some of the world’s most familiar software programs such as the Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative suites, implemented cloud-based systems known as Office 365 and Adobe CC.
But what does this all mean for candidates in today’s job market? Well, if working through cloud-based apps on handheld devices sounds intimidating or innovative to you, you are several years behind many of your more tech-savvy peers. In a competitive job market, superior IT skills will distinguish you as technically nimble, a quality that many employers and recruitment firms now consider to be vital in today’s workplace. With this in mind, we have prepared a three-step approach to developing your technical expertise:
Step 1: Do a technical skills assessment and identify gaps
Would the ability to create custom apps for iPhones make you more valuable to an employer? Perhaps. But if your background is in administration or accounting, on your resume application development may look at best like a hobby (or at worst be an irrelevant aside). Remember, practicality is central to professional development. To identify the skills you need we recommend that you consider your past performance appraisals and what your managers suggested that you work on. Likewise, consider any blind spots in your technical knowledge and experience that may be listed in job descriptions you read. The aim is to realistically identify where you can improve your employability in your chosen field by gaining working knowledge of a marketable technology.
Step 2: Keep up to date with the latest technologies
Why learn Google Docs when Microsoft Office still dominates the market? Why should I know about OneDrive when Dropbox is the cloud storage leader? Because what is current one day can be shelved the next. Household names such Netscape, Myspace, Flash quickly became redundant when Internet Explorer, Facebook and HTML5 cornered their markets. A working knowledge of alternative and up-and-coming technologies will make you an essential resource to employers as it evolves. One of our favourite resources for industry news is Tech Vibes.
Step 3: Develop your ‘third dimension’
Your ‘third dimension’ is the skill set you develop to complement your fundamental experience and abilities. Once you have completed steps one and two, you are ready to broaden your horizons by adding additional technological know-how to your profile. Thankfully, there are many resources available to those seeking to improve their technical skills. YouTube is awash with training videos and the online training site, Lynda.com, even offers a ten-day free trial of its services. In many instances, the ability to demonstrate your proficiency in a specific technology is just as marketable as formal qualifications. Thankfully, learning new technical skills is always valuable but it does not always have to be expensive.
“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets”
– Leonardo da Vinci