Stay connected in bad times – Metro US

Stay connected in bad times

While the unemployment rate in Canada rises, job opportunities are growing for people ready to meld their information technology (IT) know-how with business and communications skills, experts say.

Terry Power, president of IT staffing firm Sapphire Technology Canada, says IT skills have become a focus of employers who are actively looking for people with the right combination of IT and business skills, especially to take on executive and management positions.

“Anything that marries business and technology together will continue to be important going forward and we’re seeing the greatest strength in senior-level roles,” Power said.

While the unemployment rate recently surpassed eight per cent across the country, Powers says the jobless rate in IT hovers around 3.5 per cent, showing that businesses place a high value on technology skills.

“IT has become much more strategic for many businesses over the last four or five years,” he said.

While the IT sector is faring better than others in the current economy, Powers warns that the trend doesn’t mean all IT jobs have stronger employment prospects — in fact it’s the higher-level IT positions requiring specialized experience and skills that are in the most demand.

“There’s an increase in positions requiring people with very specific experience and high-level skills. The generalist, without a lot of experience in a given area, is having a tougher time finding a job while the specialists are in demand,” Power said.

For people with more general IT skills, Powers says the key to success will be to focus on the specific business advantages you can bring to the table.

“You must enhance your business relevance. Look at the last company you worked for and outline how you made a difference. Try and understand the business value that you bring,” Power said.

Powers suggests thinking about how you can merge your business skills with technology in an effective way that maximizes your value to employers. Specifically, jobs in business analytics (analyzing data to explain trends and inform business decisions), customer communications and IT-based accounting skills are growing in demand, he says.

Even if you’ve lost your job, make sure to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry and don’t let valuable contacts slip away.

“The best advice I could give to anybody looking for a job is to stay connected — find a way to stay out there in your industry community and do your homework,” Powers said.