How to Future-Proof Your Tech Career
A sustainable career isn’t a given in tech. Your job’s tasks could be flipped upside-down when the next breakthrough occurs, making it vital that you stay on top of trends and new developments.
We spoke with Domniki Demetriadou, partner and director of assessment services at The WorkPlace Group, a recruitment and staffing consulting firm, for tips on how to future-proof your career in tech.
AIM FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
“It’s very important for computer science graduates to maintain and continue to build their expertise,” Demetriadou says. A WorkPlace Group study on résumé characteristics that influence interview decisions found that employers were more likely to choose candidates who had relevant, current and continual work experience.
People must “monitor new developments and trends,” she says, suggesting attending tech conferences, signing up for relevant news feeds, joining networking or special interest groups in your industry, and monitoring governmental or regulatory developments. Also, don’t underestimate the power of talking to co-workers as a way to stay in the know, she says. “By reading and talking with others, you keep a finger on the pulse of the environment within which you operate or have an interest in.”
EXPAND AND USE YOUR NETWORK
Demetriadou says networking needs to be “a state of mind” instead of a scheduled activity, and that it essentially requires the ability to dive into a moment and make connections anywhere. When you cross paths with others, seize the moment and make a connection that could help you now or in the future. She says to not limit yourself only to those in your field, because connecting with people in other industries “gives you some perspective on where your work fits in the bigger scheme of business and provides you with opportunities to identify areas where your work can be applied.”
Networking with professionals in and out of your field is important, but forming connections within your own workplace is also crucial to staying informed of industry and company changes, she says. “Pay attention to where changes and new ideas come from within your company and build relationships with colleagues from those areas,” Demetriadou says. By talking with these workers and asking questions about decisions that led them to success, you will gain new insights on the company, which will help you stay informed and relevant.
SEEK OUT WAYS TO STRETCH
Exercising your skills and developing new ones is vital to sustaining a tech career, Demetriadou says. She suggests looking for projects or assignments that help you use your current skills and gain new ones. Ask your boss about taking on assignments, seek out co-workers who need project help or be on the lookout for new projects in the works. If something truly interests you, Demetriadou says, speak with the project lead and ask to be part of the team. Take it a step further and suggest improvements or project ideas to your boss, and if the project is approved, ask to lead it.
In these new projects, work on your technical skills, but don’t forget the importance of the nontechnical as well, such as collaboration, leadership, negotiating and cross-functional communication, Demetriadou says. “Beyond keeping up with one’s technical skills, it’s those nontechnical and transferable skills that ensure a sustainable career — and career progression — within a company,” she says.