''There's going to be fantastic opportunities for people who heeded the warnings about diversifying their skill sets and understanding the business,'' says Kevin Knaul, executive vice president of the Hudson Highland Group, a professional staffing and outsourcing company based in New York City. ''Those folks will put themselves in a great situation. But those folks focused on a specific technology run the risk of finding themselves in a tighter market and tighter circumstances.''
Becoming business focused is the main piece of advice for IT professionals these days. It's no longer enough to be a skilled technician. It's no longer enough to be a specialist. Today, the professionals who companies are looking to hire will not only have a wide-ranging skill set, they'll also understand how the business works and they'll have participated in business-side projects and teams.
''They need to get out of the server room and spend more time understanding the business aspects and the ramifications of technology decisions that are being made,'' says Knaul. ''Those skill sets and experiences are becoming more in demand. Go beyond the technology and involve yourself in committees, organizations and the whole business operation.''
Another hiring theme for 2006 is project management, according to Scott Melland, president and chief executive officer of New York-based Dice Inc., an online recruiting service for IT professionals. With business picking up over the last year, the time is ripe for companies to begin upgrading their systems and taking on new IT projects. That means they'll be needing some new project managers to run the show.
And a third theme for the new year is open source. ''Last year, we saw a 90 percent increase in that skill set,'' says Melland. ''We still see a lot of companies out there switching to an open source platform. This trend will continue well into 2006.''
Here's what Melland and John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company, say will be the hot jobs -- and skills -- for 2006: