How to keep your tech profile hot in an ever-changing market
Technology changes every day. If you don’t prepare yourself to adapt, you’re headed straight for being unemployed and not in demand. If you’re paying close attention, upticks in tech, like Python, React JS and Ruby on Rails, won’t catch you off guard. But keeping up with what’s hot – and what’s not – is exhausting. It’s also not a wise investment of your time.
Forget chasing trends. Triple Crown recommends six ways you can keep a hot tech profile in a market that just won’t sit still.
- Make a plan. Obvious, right? But it’s also the most skipped. No matter where you are in your career, document your plan to adapt. Write down exactly what you’re going to do (i.e., learn one new platform each year), how you’re going to achieve it (i.e., investing 2 non-negotiable hours each week to do coursework) and when you’re going to do it (note: if it’s not on your calendar, it probably doesn’t exist).
- Read the news. Use Google Alerts or a tool like Feedly to collect and serve up targeted news for you. Also, listen to what engineers/recruiters are saying are the hot trends in the market. Be prepared and document how to make yourself the next big thing in the “hottest” skillset, whether it’s verification or Node JS, and you will be thankful in the long term. Get curious about products and technologies taking over industries. See what they’re made of, look at the companies using them, understand how or why they might change the way things are done in the future – and whether you should add something to the learning plan you outlined in #1, above.
- Read blogs. Google Alerts and RSS feeds will make filtering blogs easier for you, too. Get up close and personal with what members of the hardware and software communities see picking up steam or losing its cool (factor). Understanding what fellow engineers see rising and falling – not just the media – could help you prioritize what ranks on your to-do list.
- Take a class. Also an obvious pick as part of a learning strategy, but not simply for the reason you think. Leading organizations that offer tech coursework do their homework. They pay attention to what skills are needed in the workforce – and what will be in demand soon.
- Give yourself projects. Challenge yourself to do something differently than you have in the past. If it’s not appropriate to experiment with tech on the job, give yourself independent projects. Learn a new technology platform and build a product to test your new chops. Consider it like exercising – do it regularly to get stronger and stay that way.
- Stay curious. It’s the most important one on this list – and it’s the hardest one on the list! Staying curious across the trajectory of your career requires you to remain smitten with technology for decades. Never resting on your laurels, you keep your eyes open for new – nay, better! – ways to do things and how you can incorporate it into your next project. Staying curious will not only keep you ahead of the curve, no matter where you are in your career, but continue to grow your career and make it ever rewarding. Learn something new every day to keep yourself sharp. Once you stop learning, you become stagnant which is not putting you in a position to succeed.
Even if you’re not targeting a position change (i.e., growing from software engineer to architect) or you’re already a team lead, manager or architect, the advice above will keep you from becoming a non-marketable skillset. Not only will you position yourself to make the best technology decisions for your products, you’ll know – before the competition – what’s coming next and what talent you’ll need to stay ahead. In order to be the best, you must continue to grow every day.