stay relevant in tech industry

How to stay relevant in a constantly changing tech landscape

The technology in our world is constantly evolving. Something that is popular today could be obsolete by this time next year. Think about where we were just ten years ago – Facebook was still relatively new, storage was done primarily through CD-ROMs, and smartphones and tablets were barely even a thought yet. While the ever-changing tech landscape can be great for consumers by offering them new and better products on a consistent basis, it is not always that great for people working within the field.

To have a long-lasting career within the tech industry, it’s vital that you keep on top of the latest trends. If you don’t, the tech world will soon pass you by, and it will become harder to find a job or advance your career.

Old skills become outdated

One of the most obvious examples of the changing tech world is in its programming languages. For years, PHP was a popular language, and was the focus for many students earning their degrees. As things have changed over the past few years however, the focus has shifted, with Java, Python, and other emerging programming languages becoming more prominent. While there are still companies looking to hire PHP developers, they are becoming less frequent. This has happened with many programming languages over the years, and will likely continue in the future as well.

What is the reason for this shift in tech? It can be argued that as something develops, it becomes better understood. As more and more people begin to study and work with something, the knowledge spreads faster, and the tech becomes more commonplace. While just a few years ago it required a PhD to work with cloud systems, now a Bachelor’s Degree and enough years of experience might be enough. At first only a select few will understand how to work with a new technology, but as more people begin to study it, the faster it spreads. This leads to further advancements, and improves the tech, making it more desirable.

Jobs roles are being consolidated – or removed entirely

When the popular tech changes, so too do the jobs associated with it. System admins are rarely needed in-house anymore because companies are beginning to store all their information elsewhere on the cloud. Not long ago, a company would hire an SEO specialist, a web master, and a social media manager – but now all three of these functions can be handled by the same person.

20 years ago someone might have specialized in CD-ROM storage for critical business data. If that same person tried to use those skills to get a job today, they would be hard pressed to find an opening. While these jobs don’t suddenly disappear all at once, it is important that those people working in the tech industry keep their eyes on the future, and make sure they are prepared if their skill set begins to become obsolete.

Knowing what to learn

There are a few ways you can go about keeping up to date on the latest trends. For starters, attending industry events are a great way to see what new technologies are being introduced, and to network with others in the industry. Here is a great list of upcoming tech events that you can attend.

Besides that, you should keep your eyes on the news. Read the Technology section of newspapers, subscribe to some tech-related websites, and follow tech companies and leaders on social media. Make consuming tech news a daily part of your life, and you’ll be less likely to be caught by surprise.

Keeping your skills relevant

The best way to ensure you don’t fall behind is to always be looking for new things to learn. Once you graduate with your degree, that does not mean your learning should stop. Every couple of years you should consider going back to school, or perhaps participating in a coding bootcamp. If you think it will help your career, you could always get a higher degree, such as a Master’s or Doctorate, but this isn’t always necessary. You may be surprised at the advancements made while you’ve been working, and by learning the newest material, you’ll be prepared to make a job shift when the time comes.

If school is too expensive for you, there are other ways to learn something new. For example, plenty of online resources exist to help people learn new coding languages. If there is a coding language you are unfamiliar with, and you notice it is starting to gain in popularity, take a weekend to learn the basics. You never know – in a few years that coding language you spent a few weekends learning could be the most popular, and the only way to get a job.

Finally, the last way to stay relevant is to not be afraid to try something new. If your company is looking for someone to take on a new tech-related responsibility, you could consider doing so, even if you are not entirely familiar with it. This will allow you to pick up some new skills while on the job, and make you look good to your manager(s). There may be some bumps along the way, but if you take some time to learn everything you can about your new role, you should be able to work your way through them.

Never let your skills become outdated

It’s very easy to become complacent in your job – you have skills, you know how to use them, you do a good job, and you figure that’s enough. And while many people can float by on their skill sets for years, this is not always true for those people working with tech. Technology changes too rapidly, and complacency is not really an option if you want a long lasting career.

Staying on top of the latest trends will take some extra work on your part, and you’ll probably have to learn some new things in your free time. But when you start noticing the number of job postings for your role are diminishing, and that new job you want requires a skill you haven’t learned, you’ll wish you had taken the time to keep your skills up to date. Develop a learning habit now and it will help you the rest of your career.

For more information on available tech job opportunities in the South Florida area, be sure to check our available openings or to connect with one of the recruiters in our IT Services Division at 561-475-4007.