Irresistible IT Skills

These are the competencies and combinations of expertise that will get you hired today.

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General networking. No matter where you work in IT, you cant escape the network, so non-networking professionals need a basic understanding of networking concepts. At the very least, they should brush up on basics, such as TCP/IP, Ethernet and fiber optics, and have a working knowledge of distributed and networked computing.

Theres an acute need for people writing applications to be aware of how their applications use the network [and to] take advantage of the network in their application design, Scott says.

Network convergence. With more companies implementing voice over IP, theres a call for network administrators who understand LANs, WANs, voice technologies, the Internet and how they all converge. When something needs to be fixed, companies dont want the network administrator to say, Oh, thats a phone problem, and the phone guy to say, Call the networking guy, says Hopkins. Theres a huge demand for people who understand both worlds.

Open-source programming. Theres been an uptick in employers interested in hiring open-source talent. Some people thought the sun was setting on open source, but its coming back in a big way, both at the operating system level and in application development, Ebner says. People with experience in Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, collectively referred to as LAMP, will find themselves in high demand, he says.

Business intelligence. Momentum is also building around BI, creating demand for people who know how to apply technologies from companies like Cognos Inc., Business Objects SA and Hyperion Solutions Corp. to the business. Clients are making significant investments in business intelligence, Ebner says. But they dont need pure technicians creating scripts and queries. To be a skilled data miner, you need hard-core functional knowledge of the business youre trying to dissect.

People who can do both are some of the hottest talent in the country right now, he adds.

Embedded security. The trend to integrate security into day-to-day operations has yielded a surge in employers looking for security skills and certifications in all IT job applicants. In virtually every job description Ive seen in the last six months, theres been some use of the word security, Schmidt says. Whether the person is running the e-mail server or doing software development, its becoming part of the job description.

Companies will still need security specialists and subject-matter experts, Schmidt says, but more and more, every IT person will need an understanding of the security ramifications of his area.

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer in Newton, Mass. Contact her at

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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