I'll never forget the day I was working at Cisco, and I looked out to the car park and saw the guy who was my bosses, bosses boss walking towards our office. Next to him was the head of HR. I knew they hadn't come to thank us all for our hard work.
They told the entire department of 50 people that we were being let go, and we had two months left. It was 2002, and thanks to high-speed internet, many companies were outsourcing to cheaper countries where they could hire staff for a fraction of the cost without all the headaches of employment laws, taxes, benefits, and unions.
It's coming round again, as I'm sure you can see from the news. Many countries are going into recession for a number of reasons we don't need to go into here. What we do need to cover is what plans you need to make so either you don't get let go (because you are too valuable), or if you are, you will be snapped up quickly by another company or can freelance for a high day rate.
We won't look at soft skills in this post because I'll cover those another time, but for now, being a good team player, having a can-do attitude, and being an agreeable person will take you a long way. I'm sure you know people who are the opposite of this.
I'll cover a few key areas you should seriously consider having skills in. Of course, you may well want to be an expert in one but dip your toes in the others. They all offer foundation-level certifications, so there are no excuses.
Company owners are obsessed with security for a number of reasons. There have been so many reports of large companies falling victim to ransomware attacks or having their customers data stolen. It's awful for trust with their customers and, of course, can lead to serious legal issues.
The foundation security certification is the Security+ from CompTIA, which covers everything from hardware, attack types, wifi security, as well as reporting and compliance. There are other entry-level certifications, but Security+ is the benchmark.
You can, from there, choose a number of career routes from ethical hacking, penetrating testing, network security, wireless security, and Linux security. Look into the Cisco CyberOps Associate, Juniper Security, Linux LPIC-3, Wireless Security Professional, SSCP, or cloud security with Amazon, Google, or Microsoft.
Linux pretty much powers the entire internet but many people wouldn't know this because they only work on desktop PCs using Windows.
Linux skills are crucial for network administration as well as security. If you plan to work for a large company, then Linux skills are essential. You can learn the basics and then progress onto security, network administration, virtualization, cloud, DevOps, data centers, and more.
Start off with the Linux Institute LPI essentials and then look into the CompTIA Linux+, which will get you to a good level of knowledge. You could also consider taking the LIPC-1, which is pretty much the same as the Linux+, so no extra work is involved.
I've lost count of how many companies I went into to train network or security staff or consult, only to find that team members were missing a fundamental understanding of the TCP/IP protocols. I'm talking about DHCP, DNS, IP addressing, NAT, and so on.
There are no excuses for not understanding the foundations of the entire internetwork, from homes to the internet. The good news is that it's easy to learn.
Everyone uses the cloud already, but they probably don't know it. TV streaming, apps, email accounts, and more.
Cloud networking offers so many benefits to companies that many use it either partially or exclusively. All the hardware support, software updates, and security is taken care of by the host, and you can scale up or down for servers, CPUs, hard drives, and more with the click of a button.
Cloud engineers are in high demand, and you can specialize in cloud security, DevOps, and more.
Start with the CompTIA Cloud Essentials and then choose a vendor from Amazon, Google, or Microsoft. They are all very similar in size, so you can't make a bad choice here. Each vendor has its own certification path from novice to expert.
You don't have to be a project manager in order to manage a project. Even if you do want to be a project manager, you can be a technical PM or sales PM.
Nothing happens without a project manager coordinating all the suppliers, vendors, contractors, and customers. The PM is the glue that holds the project together.
If you have technical and PM skills, you will likely never be let go from the company because they can't get anything done without you.
Look at the CompTIA Project+ first, and then you can consider PRINCE, ITIL, or others.
There are so many choices for your IT career, but you need to choose something that will stand the test of time and be in demand over the coming years. Of course, nobody can predict the future, but the above skills aren't going away anytime soon.