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June 19, 2017

Five Essential Skills for a Career in Tech

By Special Guest
Samantha Garofalo, Principal and Collaboration Practice Lead at Aura IT Consulting

Perhaps you are a recent grad seeking your first career, or maybe you’re a seasoned professional looking for a career change. Regardless of your current standing, you have most likely noticed that business is booming in the technology industry. A recent Cyberstates 2017 report claims that 7.3 million workers joined the digital economy in jobs for software, cybersecurity and cloud computing. It’s obvious that people all over the country are paying attention to the rise of technology careers and wondering if they can jump into the innovative workforce.

While research has shown that  tech jobs are growing, why has there been such a push? Aside from the excitement surrounding innovation, technology careers seek to provide answers for problems that we all face in business and daily life. If you would like to be a part of a career that tackles these challenges directly, here are five important qualities to highlight when applying and interviewing:

1. An organized candidate is an efficient and effective one
Can you juggle multiple projects at once? How about shifting gears quickly from developing an app at an early stage to finalizing a CRM platform, then supporting a client having trouble with a completed project?

In a world full of updates, upgrades, new software or patches, rarely can a project ever really be closed. There are bound to be opportunities to support your clients during a time of transition, so the ability to jump quickly from project to project - at any stage in the process - is imperative.

2. Internal motivation and drive assures a long-term opportunity
While working on the back-end development of a project where work is rarely seen by the client or user, you might be facing a thankless job. Internal motivation through goal setting and personal drive can help you succeed during long deployment times, high-stress deadlines and frustrating troubleshooting moments. Additionally, staring at a computer screen all day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Are you motivated and driven enough to focus your energy on a project that demands detail and patience?

Working in tech careers might mean that you are guaranteed to face some necessary inconveniences but careers in tech are also known to innovate and change quickly. A candidate who is seeking a job in the field needs to ensure that their drive is able to match the speed of change.

3. Communication is key, so brush up on your languages
Sql, Java, C#, C++, PHP, Python, IOS... how many languages can you speak? Regardless of your specialization, one thing is clear: you not only need technical acumen, but also the skills to explain information efficiently and accurately. When asked to assess candidate skills/qualities, employers rated verbal communication skills the most important, according to a recent NACE Job Outlook Report.

Communication isn’t just verbal. When working in technology, writing skills are also a necessity, especially as workflows dictate different methods of relaying contact between the team or clients. You’ll be communicating difficult topics amongst your team via digital and in-person channels, but this information may also need to be shared with a client that has less industry-knowledge. Concerned about a project? Maybe you are hoping to introduce a new type of workflow or process, but your team is resistant to change? Expressing your thoughts with clarity and conciseness and the reason behind them ensures an open and productive dialogue.

Relaying your thoughts, ideas and questions in a professional manner is vital. You’ve heard the saying, “Communication is key,” but it’s not just a cliché. Communication styles abound, but knowing how to share input and deliver your message clearly will help you immensely.

4. Working in tech means working on a team
Speaking of the team, how are you at working with others? Development of mobile apps and software, for example, follows two primary types of models. Depending on where you work, you may be in an agile or waterfall style, and that means relying on others for a project’s success. No man is an island, and a team that doesn’t share in each other’s strengths is guaranteed to have trouble.

As clients and customers may already be a bit apprehensive about investing in new software that requires a change in workflow or habit, knowing that an expert and cohesive team is on their side can help to ease any potential fears.

5.  Take initiative on being a lifetime learner
Technology is an incredible field with many opportunities to grow. While school may be out now, there are many free and paid options available for professional development. Continuing your education in the office and outside the job will set any employee on the road to success.

These opportunities can help you gain important industry knowledge and gain accreditation in the field, which then opens opportunities for thought leadership. Advice, guidance and knowledge can be shared speaking at conferences, commenting on industry forums or writing articles for top publications.

Ready to dive in? Welcome!
In the grand scheme of things, this type of field is relatively new for the modern workforce, and that provides an excellent opportunity for professionals to ask themselves if they would like to change the direction of their career. Many companies will understand if your professional or educational background is outside of the current scope of work.

Consider this: most candidates didn’t have the opportunity to study app development while in school because it didn’t exist at the time. You have the opportunity to take charge of your professional development and invest in a career that’s growing in Indianapolis and the rest of the country.

About the Author
Samantha Garofalo is a Principal and Collaboration Practice Lead at Aura IT Consulting. As a Microsoft (News - Alert) certified partner, Aura IT develops and delivers custom applications, software platforms and technical architecture that enable clients to engage, collaborate and serve their customers and stakeholders.

Edited by Alicia Young

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