It’s no secret that an information technology (IT) career typically comes with an above-average salary and ample opportunities for career advancement. Every company needs some IT expertise to repair their equipment, program their websites, build their software, maintain their databases, protect their data and keep them on the forefront of technology.
If you’re considering capitalizing on your technical know-how to help meet the needs of these businesses, you’d be wise to choose a facet of the field on which to focus your efforts. It’s great to be a jack-of-all-trades, but what companies are really seeking are experts in precise areas.
But which skills should you hone to stand out from the crowd? We enlisted the experts who hire for technology positions to find out which technology skills are the hardest to find in candidates. Mastering these skills will help you become the coveted IT pro these companies are seeking this year
6 In-demand technology skills in 2016
In a fast-paced field like technology, the landscape is constantly evolving. The skills that were sought-after last year won’t necessarily be the ones employers are seeking this year. So how do you know which skills to sharpen?
Who better to hear from than the very people who are screening the candidates? Learn about six of the technology skills hiring managers struggle to find.
1. iOS/Android development
Mobile technology isn’t going anywhere. More people accessed the Internet with mobile devices than laptops or desktops in 2014, and our smartphone usage is still on the rise. That means companies are on the hunt for iOS/Android mobile developers as they work to harness all of that mobile traffic.
A familiarity of older mobile web app frameworks is also a huge plus. “Having knowledge of previous frameworks can get you a big salary, too, as antiquated system designs and architectures look to move to newer development tech,” says Dimitri Semenikhin, founder of YachtHarbour and former development recruiter and consultant.
2. Data analysis
Like it or not, many of our routine activities are now conducted online, which means everyone from the government to Facebook to privately-owned companies are collecting user data. The problem? That data is worthless without skilled analysts to identify connections and highlight information that is significant to their employer.
That’s why any IT pro with the skills to “work with and draw useful conclusions from huge data sets” has the upper hand in the IT job search, according to Job Brown, head of digital at Roman Blinds Direct. Companies don’t want to see all that gathered data going to waste, so you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager if you bring this tech skill to the table.
Businesses are constantly trying to expand their tech options to keep up with the competition while still keeping a close eye on their bottom line. Developing stand-out new features takes time and money—which is why DevOps is predicted to be an in-demand skill for 2016. But what is DevOps, exactly?
“It’s the marriage between development and operations,” explains Jason Sherman, VP of engineering at the flower delivery site, BloomNation. “They allow developers to get their job done faster by building systems and tools that allow them to create environments quickly and easily.” A tech skill that saves time and money? It’s not hard to see why employers will be looking to hire DevOps experts this year.
API, short for application programming interface, is a vehicle programmers can use to efficiently communicate with an application. APIs are what allow programmers to easily and efficiently make adjustments to apps and other software. They’re used by everyone from the government to your favorite apps and social media sites—so it’s no surprise that hiring managers are on the lookout for candidates with this ability in their arsenal.
“Competition is high, and it’s difficult for us to select a candidate who has not already coded in our API,” says Frank Lee, HR manager at Rebates Zone. Lee notes that any candidate already familiar with their API will earn huge bonus points because of the efficiency of working with APIs on a daily basis.
5. Caching techniques
You’ve probably heard of caching before, but what do hiring managers want with this tech skill? “Companies use caching for highly-trafficked websites to enable the site to run quickly and reduce load on downstream servers,” Sherman explains. Without caching, a company’s website will run slowly and their system will be bogged down. A slow-to-load site often means losing customers who aren’t willing to wait.
Sherman has found that many IT candidates lack a solid understanding of caching skills and why they’re important. Though these skills aren’t typically learned at the beginning of your IT career, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager if you have a basic foundation in caching skills.
6. Open-source programming languages
Programming languages are always going to be in demand, but Sherman notes that open-source languages like Python and Ruby are sure to be especially popular in 2016.
“Companies are moving more and more towards open-source languages and frameworks, especially in the start-up space,” says Sherman. “All of these technologies are at the forefront of new development.”
Learning these programming languages can fast-track your technology career for years to come. “Physical infrastructure is updated every year and software houses are racing to develop the most optimized applications in the market,” adds Lee. IT pros will turn some heads by highlighting open-source programming languages on their resume!
Time to impress employers
Now that you know which in-demand technology skills can help you land your dream career in 2016, you’re prepared to stay on top in the ever-evolving IT industry.
Are you prepared to make this the year you kick your IT career up a notch? Learn how a computer science degree can open the door to several in-demand positions.