Keeping your IT career out of jeopardy through digital upskilling

August 5, 20195 minutes

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When it comes to the IT world, the meaning of the term “security” can vary. On one hand, you’ve got the most obvious sense: technology security—the management of which has quickly become one of the most important aspects of being a CIO or IT manager. On the other hand, there’s job security.

In a fluctuating tech market, new threats to your value as an employee are springing up every day. If you’ve ever felt a sense that you should take up some professional development opportunities, read on for a few tips on digital upskilling that will help you stay a step ahead of the competition in a field where continuous learning and adapting are essential.

What’s putting your job at risk?

Assuming you don’t make a habit of showing up to work in your pajamas at 11 AM, threats to your job as an IT professional can be classified into one of two types: internal and external.

Internal threats are probably the easier of the two to spot. These could come in the form of fresh talent—that hot-shot new hire with a shiny new, ultra-specific tech degree that didn’t even exist back when you were in college. Perhaps you’ve already seen a changing of the guard taking place in your office. If you haven’t, it’s only a matter of time.

External threats to your career are likely coming from less organic sources—think new technology with the ability to do certain aspects of your job with inhuman speed and efficiency. Automation ring a bell? Maybe IoT? Sure, these fancy configurations of silicon might never be able to single-handedly do your job, but you’re probably already watching them erode it one task at a time.

Don’t feel down, though. The simple fact of the matter is that there will always be someone or something younger and newer than you waiting in the wings. And you know what? That’s okay, because everyone is either in the same boat or will be in a few short years.

Staying valuable

What you need to prevent a pink slip is the opportunity to remind your employer why they hired you in the first place. Chances are good that it had something to do with intelligence, personality, and discipline. The great thing about those qualities is that no amount of new grads or trendy silicon can take them away. Here’s how you can put these traits to use:

Flex your industry knowledge and stay hungry for more

When it comes to knowledge, you may be at a slight disadvantage compared to those who are fresh out of a formal CISO education. With that said, you’ve got one distinct advantage: industry experience. You’ve already got your finger on the proverbial pulse of your industry, and all that’s needed is a little sharpening of the sword, so to speak.

Combine your industry knowledge with digital upskilling initiatives within your organization to continue innovating and proving your exceptional worth. Turn the tide on impending job takeover from new technologies by leveraging that tech in creative ways. Spearheading the deployment of new connected tech like smart lights and thermostats, secure printers, or other devices with embedded security can impress and free up your time to pursue new areas of education.

Stay personable and approachable

The personality side of this is easy. Keep being the flexible, approachable, and humble person that first interested your hiring team. Everyone loves to have a friend in IT who can ward off their tech gremlins, so beware the “us versus them” mentality when it comes to the non-technical people at your office. They really do appreciate your assistance.

Be ready to impart your years of experience and knowledge to those who are open to receiving it—hot-shot new hires included. Extending an olive branch can foster an environment of continuous learning, and you may even pick up a thing or two from them. A little kindness can go a long way in today’s business world; just ask Mark Cuban.

Focus on business needs

Finally, be disciplined in your professional approach to tech in business. It’s easy to become distracted if you try to “keep up with the Joneses,” but you know the areas in which you excel and the ones in which you face difficulties. Don’t be afraid to reach out to experts who offer device as a service (DaaS) assistance when you need a little extra help. You might even be applauded for streamlining document workflow throughout your organization.

Keep in mind, too, that despite the edge others might have on you when it comes to the newest innovations, you know the people, culture, successes, and failures of the company, so try to make yourself as much of a business consultant as a tech consultant to those above and around you. Consider letting the new guy handle the buttons and switches while you make your digital upskilling efforts manifest by stepping into a more managerial role and determining the mission and strategy of IT at a higher level. Keep your focus on tasks within your wheelhouse; you’ll be adding more with your continuous learning anyway!

Remember that in this industry, complacency kills. Stay on your toes and put these tips for staying relevant in an ever-changing IT landscape to good use.

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