10 smart ways to survive the coming IT jobpocalypse

10 smart ways to survive the coming IT jobpocalypse

Summary: Since there is no doubt that the cloud has and will cause disruption, here are some constructive guidelines on how to strengthen your career should you face your own personal jobpocalypse.

TOPICS: Cloud, Data Centers

I always really enjoy participating in ZDNet's Great Debates. The one we just finished, Will cloud adoption bring about a datacenter and IT job apocalypse?, is no exception.

I will admit that winning the popular vote (I won 69% to 31%), but then losing the moderator's vote, is a bit of a bummer. Jason, my opponent, did make a strong argument, claiming that the cloud will cause disruption. To be fair, disruption and an apocalypse are very different things. Every tech cycle has caused disruption and this will be no different. A reorg and the end of the world are quite distinct from each other.

To be fair, if you're the one who gets downsized, it might feel like the end of the world to you, and I feel for you. Been there. Wrote the book on that.

Since there is no doubt that the cloud has and will cause disruption, rather than rehashing debate points here in this follow-up article, I thought it would be better to give you some constructive guidelines on how to strengthen your career should you face your own personal jobpocalypse.

1. Don't be a default empty head: I am constantly in a never-ending series of phone meetings with corporate and government officials I haven't met. So the very first thing I do when I get the meeting invite is look them up online.

While many have fully fleshed-out online presences, many of them are blank — very little in the way of a LinkedIn resume, no Twitter presence, no blog. When you find anything at all about them, their information is next to a default, empty head instead of a real picture.

The online is where it's at. Flesh out your online presence. Post a respectable profile picture.

2. Flesh out LinkedIn: Be sure to fully flesh out your LinkedIn resume. Add in all your information, and then ask people you've worked with to write and post recommendations. Participate in any appropriate LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn, today, is the first place corporate folks look when they want to know who you are.

3. Get on Twitter: If you don't have a Twitter account, get one. Use the same profile picture and a good, short bio. Tweet regularly (more on that in a bit).

4. Follow your leaders: Using Twitter (and to some extent LinkedIn), find out who the leaders are in your industry (and any industry you think you might want to jump to after the jobpocalypse). Follow them and read their tweets.

Go one step further. Don't just read their tweets. Retweet them. And read what they point to. It's a fast way to learn and a quick way to get a few followers.

5. Read the industry sites: ZDNet is a good start, but you'll need to do daily reading on a lot of topics, especially if you want to jump from regular IT to a related field (like health informatics). Read all you can so you can come up to speed with the players, the issues and even the jargon.

6. Go forth and schmooze: I'm not suggesting you take out a loan to fly to CES, but almost all areas have some local (or car-ride distance) events related to many different industries. Attend everything you can find. Mingle. Swap business cards. Help out.

I can't tell you how many jobs and deals I got in my early days because I went to all the tradeshows, but it was career-making. I met people. I schmoozed. I asked questions. I got introduced to other people. And I got hired. Do it.

7. Learn to program: Many IT problems can be solved by some neat little programming hack that mashes two separate systems into one. That mash-up usually involves some scripting or programming skills. It also allows you to cross areas of expertise, a skill that's valuable to employers and clients.

So, if you don't know how to program or to script, learn. There are a lot of continuing education courses, online classes and even free trainings. There's no excuse not to learn, so do so.

8. Don't be a one-vendor wonder: Are you all-Microsoft-all-the-time? Do you live and breathe Lotus (or IBM now)? Was Novell all you could think about? Is Oracle your oracle? Is HP your higher power? Does Cisco make you disco?

If you're all about one vendor, you're likely one of the few that are in real danger from the jobpocalypse. You must expand your skills and experience beyond that one vendor, because if that vendor makes a serious market mistake, your whole future is shot. I know it's hard, but learn something else.

9. Learn cloud systems: Jason's advice about learning cloud systems is valid: "Learn Azure, learn AWS, start familiarizing yourself with the various vendor private cloud stacks and public cloud offerings." Do it.

10. Volunteer your time: One of the biggest objections job seekers get is that they don't have experience with a given tool, platform, solution, whatever. One way around that is to find organizations (there are a lot of nonprofits out there) that need help.

Do some pro-bono work in areas where you'd like to build your career. It's a great strategy and you'll be doing some good at the same time.

That's it, my fellow IT pros! Go out there and conquer the jobpocalypse. You can do it.

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Testing

    Testing 1, 2, 3
  • Don't fear the cloud

    I've always seen cloud services as a complement to what I do in IT. My main concerns, like everyone else, is the reliability and security of the services. When someone else controls your data they can really do whatever they like with it. And that is a scary thought.
    • MStalnecker...you'll never have security without huge costs involved

      if you use anything Microsoft related.
      Over and Out
      • Did you consider ...

        that MStalnecker might be M. Stalnecker?
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Risk Management is still high

    If you haven't been paying attention PRISM has galvanized a groundswell of negative reaction to storing anything in the cloud.

    In fact, national reaction (German) is to move tenants currently using U.S. cloud service off-shore to safe haven ISPs in an effort to avoid the reach of the NSA.

    Enterprise has even more reason not to move their data centers into the cloud even if there is a cost reduction benefit. The risk of disruption (National Security Letter) and takedown is high (MegaUpload).

    Unless you store data in the cloud using Zero Knowledge encryption it's going to gain high exposure.

    Google is now beginning to encrypt Drive in an attempt to mitigate their current public relations fiasco, but it should be done the right way on the first try. Zero Knowledge.

    Zero knowledge automatically hands over the keys to the owner of the data. The renter of said storage has no knowledge of what is being stored. Thus they have plausible deniability in having no participation in any 'illegal activity' and third-parties have no recourse for gaining access to stored data unless they address the owner's of the data directly.

    No more National Security Letters. Zero Knowledge.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz + Your Linux Advocate
    • Spot on

      Excellent post, Dietrich.
    • DTS, there's off-shore and there's off-shore

      Be careful about letting your data pass through undersea cables. In fact, a country known not to be a lackey of the U.S. government would be a good choice. Hmmm ... Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Might want to consider moving to South America. More here:

      "The Creepy, Long-Standing Practice of Undersea Cable Tapping
      Jul 16 2013

      Back on topic: Number 11: Get a job with a government agency and learn all about decryption and big data.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Minus the Tweeting, I am all set.

    I run a lot of multiple platform environments and so I don't see this as a problem. I do need to get out a bit more, but I am working on that. The main problem I have is that I am a jack of all trades and master of none. Happens, but I can continue to work on that.

    I am not worried about the cloud and my job. What many managers are seeing now, and those who don't buy into the buzz is that the cloud is a security risk. You can have your data protected much easier when it's on your premises, but when you move that out to the cloud, you are trusting someone else with all of your gems. Someone who also handles a lot of other gems. Some can do this very well, but can all cloud providers?
  • Cloud is complementary, not a replacement

    We assume the cloud is going to kill physical servers and hosting, but for that assumption to hold hosting and hardware costs must remain constant. Much of my company's computing resources is devoted to crunching a steady amount of data, 24/7/365(6). We've experimented with cloud deployments, and for constant usage it is cheaper to buy physical hardware and host it. Where we can gain some reduced costs will be in elastic scaling -- i.e. budget physical capacity to always be full, and then offload the overflow to the cloud when it comes in. This actually creates more of a demand for IT, not less
  • LinkedIn?

    Most people I have looked up on LinkedIn just look like corporate d*cks. I dabbled with joining but I wasn't impressed the way it tried to mine all my Gmail contacts without my permission. No doubt some people find it useful but personally I'm going to stay well clear.
    • I like LinkedIn

      ...and I found that I have a very high degree of control over my privacy. My email ID is NOT exposed (unless I want to), and it doesn't try and mine into any of my contact lists.

      To digress a bit - contrast this to WhatsApp - as soon as I installed it, everyone on my contact list who had WhatsApp was instantly notified that I was now on WhatsApp. Horrifying! I un-installed it within 3 minutes.

      Anyway, whether you like it or not, LinkedIn is definitely the first stop for headhunters. It's like going to a trade show in the cloud.
  • Twitt

    So, start tweeting, and re-tweeting, and follow people around repeating what they say, just so people can see that you are on twitter, and get lots of people repeating what you say about what your followers say?

    Then enjoy your new position in the big circular human centipede.
  • Non-sequitur

    If all the IT jobs are going bye-bye, then most of those tips you provided are - forgive me - futile.

    I also feel sorry for college students going into IT nowadays...

    Oh, many people lack the time to volunteer and the word, which is an obfuscation for "volunteer non-wage slavery", doesn't put food on our families (remember who said that little gem?) Volunteering IS a good social camaraderie exercise, but only when one has a job that pays enough so one can have time to do other things.
  • jobpocalypse? impossible

    How could anyone have trouble holding a job when there is supposedly such a shortage of IT people that we need a massive increase in H1B1 visas?

    After all isn't that what MSFT, GOOG, FB etc are screaming?
    • They don't want to pay the money

      That's why it's in their interest to use slave labor
  • IT job and experience.

    The article was great I liked it. But if you know a public building that receives government grants such as a K-12 school is nearby you can try a job their. I never thought of it and was hired right on the spot because it was a small town that was one of a handful of IT jobs in that town but it allowed me to meet connections. What about word of mouth? Or coop's/intership's? So cheers I was two steps ahead of you on that one. I prefer windows or Linux but at a K-12 school you at forced to already to work with all 3 (Windows, mac, and linux) and you need to like it! Everyone loved me their. I loved that job it was the best programming/IT hybrid job. So your wording is spot on to look local and "schmooze" before wasting precious gas into a venture somewhere else. I was working with Kinect as a replacement for smarttech's smartboard. I would have to disagree with profile pictures as it would give the employer a chance to discriminate based on appearance.
    • error

      should be "you are forced already to work with all 3".
  • flesh out

    for your self-pic, buy yourself a cheap pair of dark sunglasses, then wear them. Now pull them down just low enough that your pupils have "eye-contact". Take the shot. Post as your new, fleshed out self.
    Mr. Science
  • well said

    Hard to know exactly what's being referred to when one says "IT" any more, thus perhaps some of the criticism in the comments... But, your advice is good advice, IT-specific or otherwise, really.
  • Cloud is coming? Psshhh...

    I already work for a company who makes clouds. http://www.theonion.com/video/hp-on-that-cloud-thing-that-everyone-else-is-talki,28789/ What is better job security than that?