Technologist Talk with Eaton and Kardel

How Tech Skills Can Pandemic-Proof Your Career

By R.C. Dirkes

Is it possible to pandemic-proof your career?

If so, developing IT skills may just be the way to do it – despite your current job experience.

In a recent episode of the award-winning Technologist Talk podcast, award-winning author Charles Eaton, CEO of CompTIA Tech Career Academy and Creating IT Futures, joins Amy Kardel, CompTIA’s vice president, strategic workforce relationships, for a conversation about how continuous learning, certifications and working for Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can help you transition or improve your career during trying times.

If pandemic economics have you – or someone you know – considering changing careers, the technology industry presents a tempting proposition. Despite the pandemic, many tech companies continue to hire new workers and many businesses in other industries continue to offer tens of thousands of positions working with technology.

Plus, per CompTIA's research, the unemployment rate for the tech workforce remains much lower than in other sectors, and IT salaries remain much higher than average compensation for many other entry-level jobs.

Still, if you have little experience working with technology, if you've never held a tech position, why risk jumping across your skills gap in pursuit of a job in IT?

Technologist Talk put that question to Eaton and Kardel to launch the “pandemic-proofing” discussion. Kardel spoke first, explaining that your tech success hinges on traits deeper than tech skills:

“One of the reasons to really consider a technology career is that you can add a lot of value and that's why the salaries are higher. If you think about what creates value, it's being able to serve as many people as possible, that ability to scale. And if you're working in IT, your ability to scale is greater and that makes you more valuable.”

Eaton reinforces Kardel’s message about a service-oriented mindset being a qualification for a career working with technology:

“…Because we've seen this in our IT-Ready Technical Support classes… It's not the technical knowledge that is the reason that someone gets into [a tech job.] They may have liked technology, wanted to work around it. But, really, what they like is solving problems, serving people, helping people accomplish things with technology. And, they also like to fix technology when it's not working, so that they can be of real value.”

Eaton says the secret to pandemic-proofing your is continuous learning:

“If you become a fanatical learner, you will be ready for anything that comes. …Even in technology, if you don't keep up, you can become outdated. But that mindset of always learning will help you adjust for anything.”

Kardel adds: “A desire to learn, continuously improve yourself, really grow as a person, intellectually and socially – that's a key component to succeeding as a technologist.”

“The most important thing you can do to land safely on the other side of a career is to be fanatical about your communication skills,” continues Kardel. “Being great on the phone… learning how to have that situational awareness and emotional intelligence that it takes to listen to a customer, understand what they're saying and respond succinctly. Be a fanatic about communication. Study the art of communication. Practice with those tools” as a way to pandemic-proof your career.

Next, says Kardel, develop a personal growth plan that includes IT certifications, “ CompTIA certifications have a life of three years, and then we retire them. And that's a good way to think about your skills. You need to be constantly refreshing… What interests you? Do you want to move forward with the next certification?”

Eaton elaborates, “[One of our IT-Ready graduates] had his A+ certification, did three contract jobs over three months in the Charlotte area, and then got hired full time at a company at a salary about three times larger than is typical for someone with that level of experience.”

Kardel believes an excellent entry point for workers transitioning into tech jobs is starting with a Managed Services Provider (MSP), a “local business that would provide IT services to other businesses.”

“We started an MSP in California over 20 years ago,” she says. “And over the years have hired hundreds of technologists [to] serve all sorts of businesses from wineries to manufacturing, to doctor's offices. [An MSP is] a great place to get that consulting background with more than one kind of business and see what you want to grow into.”

To hear the rest of the conversation with Eaton and Kardel, click here: “ Episode 32 – Talking Training: How Tech Skills Can Pandemic-Proof Your Career.”

 

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