Blog posted by: Adam McCullough, Senior Program Manager, 02 June 2023.
Like a car, your career needs routine maintenance. And that means investing in upskilling and networking to make sure your skills and employability remain relevant.
This is even more vital in the context of technology job losses: according to Reuters, tech companies “shed more than 150,000 workers in 2022” with “more layoffs expected as growth in the world's biggest economies slows”.
Of course, there are people who don't prepare for this; instead hunkering down and waiting for the storm to ride out, hoping it doesn't catch them.
Rather than leaving it to chance, I think “career hygiene” is important; like having a “parachute” packed just in case, as job loss can happen to anyone at any time.
Auditing your skills and market value
You need to get into the routine of reviewing your skills and doing research into the employment market. What are the vacant jobs that require my skills and what are they paying? Has the value increased or decreased?
For example, if you're looking at LinkedIn and only three jobs specifying your skills and qualifications pop up, that's a red flag. Conversely, if there are thousands of vacancies, what level of certification are they looking for and what are the salary ranges?
Ensuring your skills, certifications and resume are up to date is important to do before you need to think about applying for a new role. If you don't, you'll be in panic mode.
Assessing the value of certifications
The choice of certifications for IT, service management, project and programme professionals is endless and, by looking at the top 10 certification lists published every year, you get an idea of which are “in demand”.
However, one of the perennially important skill-sets to have is governance around IT processes and people: having a framework with which to make sense of IT and ensure what it does is connected to an organization's overall strategy.
The ability to bring business and IT requirements together means it will be more likely everyone across an organization is aligned.
In that context, the evolution of ITIL over the past 30 years - to ITIL 4 Foundation, Managing Professional and Strategic Leader designations today - now leans more heavily into the business; helping organizations through digital transformation and preparing them for what comes next.
This is about streamlining and running businesses as efficiently as possible and being ready for the next stage of technology, such as AI.
ITIL 4 - a foundation for future success
Continual improvement is a core concept in ITIL - and this can apply equally to an individual's upskilling mindset.
For me, after having already achieved the level of ITIL v3 Expert, this meant studying and taking the ITIL 4 certification.
Though I had options to go down different learning routes into deep tech, ITIL is still the foundation of who I am and what I enjoy doing: as a program manager in a major technology company, I continually incorporate ITIL approaches. And these ideas are always well received by people going through improvement programmes.
And, in one-to-one mentoring, I reference ITIL as something people should explore as way of growing their career as a well-rounded professional.
I was 25 when first exposed to ITIL in my first job and I'm now 40. Today, is ITIL the only game in town? No. But has it helped me to be successful? Yes. There are multiple paths to follow in IT and service management careers, but many people have been able to pivot to different careers on the back of their ITIL knowledge and certification.
In your career, if you say “I'm done learning”, you'll inevitably lose out to professionals who have chosen to continue.