In some e-mail with a fellow certification market follower recently, my correspondent opined that those who find themselves out of work in IT can look for a silver lining in such dire circumstances. The sudden change of work status creates a fabulous opportunity for study, learning, training, or other activities that can sharpen current IT skills or help to develop new ones.
Of course, the recently unemployed don’t usually have nothing but time on their hands, so this will take some effort, some ingenuity, and above all, some motivation to keep digging into something that isn’t paying very well at the moment. Don’t forget to file your job loss paperwork, make your unemployment claims, and go through whatever motions your local job placement authorities may require of you. Obtaining more income must always come first. But pursuing IT skills and knowledge should come a close second, because it may open more doors for your job search,. It could also broaden the field of positions you could fill, thereby increasing the odds of finding something new, and hopefully shortening the time it takes to get into a new job.
Given that unemployed people are rightfully wary about spending money on anything, you’ll want to be creative in finding materials for your hurry-up and unexpected learning adventures. Ask around to see who’s got books and study guides. Check out your local library to see what’s there (if you can’t afford Internet access at the moment, you can often sign up to use Internet-connected PCs at that same place). Surf the Web for good, free materials. You’ll also want to check out local community colleges for classroom training: these are the most affordable adult education providers around, and your (un)employment status may even qualify you for reduced- or no-cost training.
While you’re looking for that next job, this might be a perfect time to pursue that credential you’ve always been interested in, but never had the time to go after. It could also give you the opportunity to investigate interesting technologies or platforms that you never had time to dig into before. Think about high-demand IT specialties, such as storage, information security , ERP software, software architecture, databases, identity management, and so forth, and pretty soon you’ll have a wish list that’s at least enough to keep you busy, if not enough to last a lifetime.
As the old saying goes, a problem for some is an opportunity for others. Turn your employment (or underemployment) problem into an opportunity to learn more, and pretty soon you’ll be doing more, too!