Three ways to capitalize on the tech skills gap

This guest post is written by Raffaela Rein, the founder and CEO of CareerFoundry, a leading vocational edtech platform in Europe for the digital economy.

tech-skill-gapIt’s no secret that the tech industry is experiencing a scarcity of talent, with jobs in tech opening up at a rate that simply can’t be filled. Daily reports reveal a dramatic lack of the right people with the right skills training.

This is no bad thing: the tech skills gap should be seen as an opportunity. We’ve put together a list of three ways in which you can capitalize on it.

 

1. Find your niche

Why find a niche? The tech industry as we know it is less than fifteen years old, with new sub-industries emerging on a daily basis. Because of the speed at which the field is expanding, finding a niche, and becoming an expert in that niche, could mean that you soon find yourself to be a sought-after industry leader.

Honing your talents for a specific “skill industry” – for example positioning yourself in the field of UX Design or learning how to program in Ruby on Rails or Python – and you’ll find that within just a few years you could be one of the most senior on the market. Focusing on an “emerging industry” – for example studying developments in edtech, fintech, wearables or 3D printing – could also give you an advantage. Of course a mixture of both a specific skill and in-depth knowledge of an emerging industry (for example a UX specialist for the fintech industry) and you will certainly be one of a very small group of specialists with expertise in this area.

How do you find “your” niche?

Well there is no simple answer to that. It’s a mixture of hard work, luck and intuition.

Make a list of up and coming industries.Which do you think has the most potential? Which fits your experience, personality and interests? Which fits with your personal life goals? In which would you feel the highest degree of purpose? And finally, which do you have a reasonable chance of getting into?

If you’re stretching yourself far beyond your possible expertise it might be better to find something a little more realistic. Attend local events – Meetup or StartupDigest are great places to find events near you – and get a feeling for the culture, the people and requirements of your chosen industry. Additionally, ask friends and family for advice – they know your strengths and weaknesses and may be able to provide some interesting and perhaps surprising answers to this question.

2. Skill up

If you’ve not got the skills to apply for jobs in tech, it’s time to retrain and take advantage of that skills gap. Web Development or UX Design would be a good place to start as even if you don’t want to work in these fields the skills you’ll acquire through training will automatically increase your market value and show your passion for and interest in the industry.

Here are the top three options to get you skilled up in tech:

– Online courses, such as MOOCs are free, online and globally accessible, Massive Open Online Courses are a great starting point to learn a new skill as they are won’t cost you anything, are convenient to take on and have a wide range of topics.
– Offline intensive courses such as Dev Bootcamp are a great new emergence: over three months they teach students a range of tech disciplines and then connect them to companies for hiring at the end. They start where universities fail: education that actually gets you a job.
– Online boot camps combine the best of both online courses and offline teacher-led programs. They combine mentor-driven learning with a mixture of online, accessible course materials. These are ideal for people who cannot leave their job or family to do a full-time course. As with all industries, having a mentor or teacher figure is crucial for thorough and fast career advancement and the approach of these combination programs is making learning a flexible, inexpensive option.

3. Sexify your personal brand

What´s all the fuss about personal branding? During the job application process tech employers are very likely to check the Linkedin, Github, Twitter and Dribbble of any prospective candidate, as well as other social channels that are publicly available. Somebody applying for a job in tech without a Linkedin or Twitter page can seem a bit disconnected from the world they want to work in (“is this really a person who wants to apply for a tech job?”) and, above all, outdated. A good online presence increases trust and confidence in that candidate. Employers have little time to evaluate new candidates so the more you can help them – with an easy-to-find, attractive, professional online presence – the more you are helping yourself get that job.

Raffaela Rein Guest Writer

Raffaela Rein
Guest Writer

Make sure you have populated the hottest sites in your chosen field. If that’s web development then you need to be on Github or Stackoverflow. If you’re in design then create a profile on Dribbble and Behance. If your skills lie in social media it would be unforgivable not to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

But social media profiles alone don’t make a personal branding campaign. Expertise, interest and personal motivation are key. You can showcase your talents and interest in the industry – and your personal niche – by voicing your thoughts on key industry news. Use social media and comment on relevant stories; communicate with influencers. Again, showing passion and interest will increase an employer’s confidence in your ability to do a great job.

Make your public persona easy to identify with, so your audience can quickly relate to you.Your personal brand is your personality and that needs to be easily digestible, trustworthy and authoritative in order for people to then take you seriously. You can then sell yourself on the uniqueness of being YOU. That is your unique selling point! Think hard about what makes you different from everyone else out there.

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