How’s the market? What skills are HOT in the market?
Invariably these are the questions which everyone constantly asks, including prospects, clients, acquaintances, or candidates. Somehow the general feeling is that if the market is doing well, everything is doing well and everyone is hiring. If it goes south or if the employment numbers are low, everything stops.
Deep inside everyone who wants to know the pulse of the market really wants to know how marketable their skills are. The work they are currently doing, does it have any value elsewhere? If anything happens to their job, will they get another job easily?
Let me break the fallacy; if the market is doing well it does not mean everything is perfect and if it is not doing well, the world will not come to an end. Yes, it surely has an impact on the overall job market but does not mean you cannot get another job. Same goes for what is HOT in the market. In the ever-changing IT field, what is HOT changes rapidly. If you continue to chase after what is HOT, you will not be able to keep up the pace.
Your mantra should be to excel in whatever skill you have, be it development, business analysis, project management, program management, etc. Understand the trends in your market and allocate some time for study. Have the latest certification, interact with industry peers and see what things they have done in their organization. Take part in discussions on LinkedIn or participate in industry groups or organizations. Keep up with these activities regularly.
Don’t be blind-sided by your current situation. I have seen many profiles of those who have stayed with one company for 15-20 years and once they were let go, had no clue about the outside world. For example, I still see resumes without even a word on scrum or agile. I see the resumes of developers who are still working on older versions of the software as their organizations have not moved with the times. Spend some money, time and energy in staying apprised of your skill.
I have seen a few market downturns, but the candidates who followed these suggestions were never out of jobs as they kept their skills current. Yes, it is good to be aware of what is happening in the market but stay focused. In any market scenario, even the smartest person can be laid-off.
So, above all other questions, what you really need to ask yourself is HOW CURRENT ARE MY SKILLS??