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Reasons and Ways to Update Your IT Skills

We work hard to get where we want to go in our careers. We study hard throughout high school, college, university and sometimes by ourselves to gain the required skills to set ourselves apart in the labor market. The hard work finally pays off and we find ourselves where we want to be, or at the very least, on our way there.

Then something strange happens. We get comfortable and settle into the roles we worked so hard to acquire. We become MBA or professionals in the field we’ve chosen. The hard work has paid off so it is time to reap the benefits, but let us not be quick to forget to sharpen the iron from time to time. Here are a few reasons why you should constantly look to improve yourself and how to go about it.

Reasons to Sharpen the Saw

Change is the most constant phenomenon in our lives. Whatever you did to get you where you are will seldom take you to the next level you aspire to. Especially in this time and age, where new fields and specializations crop up in IT, any professional worth their salt must ensure that they keep their skills as up to date as possible. Not only will this ensure that you stay ahead of the pack, but this will give you an edge in your industry. When recruiters look for professionals highly skilled in their craft, updating your skills will ensure that you will constantly remain on their radar. They will be cherry pickings for you.

The next reason to update your skills is growth. Technology is constantly changing and improving, with new tech and systems cropping up with weed-like agility. This growth is seen across all industries and fields that incorporate technology into their operations. As a professional, career prospects and paths are at the fore of your goals and plans. Keeping your skill sets as finely honed and tuned to the ever-changing environment is the best approach to be up-to-date in the rapidly developing IT world. I mean, did you really work that hard to stay the same?

This is not news, but we all know that IT is a specialized industry. The skills required to thrive in it are just as unique and specialized as the industry itself. This alone should prompt you to evaluate your current skills and goals they meet, compare it with the industry you operate in and gauge whether they are specialized enough to give you a competitive edge. Agility and adaptability should be your new best friends when it comes to a career in IT. Almost every sector globally uses some aspect of technology, thus opportunities are abounding for the skilled. Find your niche and be the best at it.

Here’s How to Go About it

After dogs, books are rightfully man’s best friends. Or at least it should be if you are serious about an accelerated career growth and prosperity. Ever since the recognition of IT as a revolutionary industry, there have been books, websites, magazines and countless resources dedicated to IT written in the last two decades. Do a cursory search on Google and I guarantee that you will be astounded by the sheer number of books dedicated to your area of expertise. Some you may have encountered in your formal training at school, but I wager there are more that you have not. Read up on your current skills to ensure you have all the basics down then progress to areas that you wish to delve in. Soon, even your boss will start consulting you. That is the power of knowledge.

Learn as much as you can from your networks and industry affiliates. This may seem like a no-brainer, but a surprising number of professionals do not bother with the wealth of information that exists within their circles and professional bodies. Take the initiative to subscribe to leading magazines and websites that have been identified as authorities in your field of expertise. Learn from the best to be the best. It does pay to get out of your comfort zone. In the same breath, join industry groups. Go hang out with your fellow super geeks and take time to learn from them. Go for the cocktails and conferences these groups organize. Sign up for their workshops and do your best to attend seminars. They may sound boring and unexciting, but they will expose you and ensure your growth.

When you have time, take advantage of the free and affordable courses that are available online. Sites like the Open University, Edx, Coursera and Khan University (among a myriad of others) that give you access to elite courses that are sure to kick your skills up a dozen notches. Acquiring new skills and knowledge does not have to be an expensive affair. This requires a lot of discipline and persistence, but the rewards are amazing.

In a Nutshell

Read as much as you can, take the classes you can afford and learn from your peers. Do not forget to follow the experts in your field, they may lead you down paths that would be of immense benefit to you. A cocktail of these steps will expose and stretch you to new competencies and capabilities you never knew you had. Take the leap and dare to grow.

We applaud you for the steps you have taken to get to where you are. The late nights, tuition fees that you had to scrounge up, the never-ending tests and exams that accorded you the certification(s) that you now possess. That said, do not allow yourself to get comfortable. This industry is evolving and cutthroat. You always need to bring nothing short of A game. Take inventory of your skills from time to time, benchmark yourself against your peers and see what is missing. Then look for ways, many of which I have outlined above, and update your skills. Keep growing and remain teachable, then sit back and watch the world lay at your feet.

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