IT or Not IT: Which Career Path Is Right for You?

Are you thinking about changing jobs, or are you ready to start your first job ever? Perhaps your company is not providing you with the possibilities you were hoping for, or maybe it’s simply time for a change. No matter what your reason for seeking a new opportunity might be, you may want to look into a job in tech.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in the United States alone, there have been on average 13,000 jobs added monthly in IT vs. 5,000-8,000 in other areas. Thus, almost twice as many. And, the need for IT positions will continue to increase, still according to BLS, as much as 13 percent on average between 2018 and 2028. 

In this article, we’ll provide general tips for determining if a job in IT is right for you.

First Steps

IT, however, is a very big category, so where should you start? It all begins with you. The first step is to assess your current skills, competencies, and interests – especially if you’re not already playing a role in IT. 

Let’s start by defining the difference between skills and competencies. A skill is the knowledge or ability to perform a specific job. For example, the ability to write code is a necessary skill for a software developer. Other skills might include proficiency with a specific development tool or the ability to prioritize tasks and complete them according to a time plan. A competency relates to the knowledge and behaviors that make it possible to be successful in a job. Competencies describe “how” you prefer to approach work, for example, through strategic thinking, an analytical approach, or relationship building.

Based on this description, you can now make a list of your skills and your competencies. At this stage, make sure that you list ALL of the skills and competencies you can think of. For example, are you good at drawing or painting? Do you speak another language? Or, do you have the ability to plan long-term? 

Now, let’s focus on your interests. This step is important because naming and understanding what you are interested in will help you define two things: Is IT even an option for you? And if so, toward which specific area of IT do you want to orient yourself? For example, do you like gaming and enjoy participating in gaming events, or are you fascinated with the look-and-feel of apps and other software, and have maybe even thought about how you would make an app look different.

Priorities

Once you have concluded this self-assessment, you can take the next step by defining other aspects of a job that are important to you. Make a list of all the things that come to mind regarding salary, benefits, working from home/office/anywhere, 9 to 5 or flexible hours, company infrastructure available to you, company culture and values, working environment, local, regional, global, ability/requirement to travel, just to name a few. 

Next, you’ll want to prioritize the items on the list. For example, is working from anywhere more or less important than being available 9 to 5? Or, how important is working in a global/international environment vs. a company culture that values team collaboration vs. individual contribution?

Opportunities

In the next step, you’ll focus on understanding what opportunities are available and what their requirements are. You can start by looking at specific job descriptions or open positions in areas that match your interests or by talking with people who have jobs similar to what you want to do. 

This step will allow you to understand whether you can immediately apply for a job or whether there are some gaps between your skills and competencies and the typical requirements for the kind of positions you are aiming at. Do you have what it takes? Great, then you can go ahead and apply for the positions that most resonate with you, also based on your list of expectations.

However, what if you don’t have all the skills required? In that case, you need to understand the exact gaps between your existing skills and competencies and those required by the position. How wide are the gaps and how can you get closer to your goals? We’ll look at these topics more closely in future articles.

A wealth of opportunities is out there for you. The process of finding a job might feel overwhelming, like searching for a needle in the haystack, but following the steps described here will help you filter through the many options and narrow them down to a realistic and manageable size. No matter which direction your career path goes, it all starts with you. 

Just remember one thing: It can be one day or day one – it is up to you!

Come back by to read more articles about applying for a job and how to be successful in your position.
 

FOSSlife Newsetter

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