Workplace 2014: Things are Heating Up

dv740103For those of us here in the Northeast where it’s been an unseasonably chilly spring, it’s hard to believe that the very first graduates of the class of 2014 have already donned their caps and gowns, taken that memorable trip across the stage, smiled for the cameras and excitedly accepted their hard-earned diplomas.

Soon the freshly minted class of 2014 will be joining the ranks of the national workforce. Among the most pressing questions on the minds of not only these new graduates, but also their counterparts already in the workforce: what is the “big picture”employment environment they face? What specific jobs are in greatest demand by employers? What skills can help them stand out from the crowd?

These are among the most common questions we find ourselves answering for both clients and consultants on a daily basis.

The good news is that with the national unemployment rate holding steady at 6.7 percent, the job picture is looking considerably better than it has in recent years. Okay, so maybe that does not qualify as a “stop the presses” newsflash, but it’s worth repeating: unemployment rates are pretty low, competition for talent remains fierce across the board.

The picture is brighter if you are about to gradate with a STEM degree, or are an experienced IT professional. Opportunities in the technology and professional services fields are in a word, BOOMING! The unemployment rate for technology professionals fell significantly in the first quarter of 2014,’s Technology Employment Snapshot recently revealed. Tech unemployment is now at 2.7 percent, less than half the national rate, thanks to rapid growth in fields like technology consulting.


Since IT and tech consulting are a bit broad, here’s a deeper dive on what’s hot based on ongoing discussions we have with hundreds of clients in a variety of industries.It reads a bit like alphabet soup:

  • Analytics
  • Big Data
  • Cloud
  • Data Warehousing

To help meet the increasing demand for qualified professionals in these areas, we recently unveiled CLASS, a world-class, competency-driven IT services model which leverages our specialized Competency Units (CUs). Each CU is comprised of experienced technical recruiters who are proficient in identifying and recruiting professionals with highly specialized domain- and skill-based capabilities for these most critical, in-demand IT positions.

Beyond these all-important areas of technical specialization, it is critical for IT employees to demonstrate the “soft,” or interpersonal, skills, which unlike tech skills, are not as susceptible to becoming outdated. Infact, most stand the test of time. Here’s our top five list:

  • Effective Written/Verbal Communication. Given the number of emails, proposals and workflow design documents IT professionals write, written communication is essential. Verbal communication is equally important as IT employees often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for clients, team members and supervisors.
  • Strong Teamwork. IT projects are often managed and completed by teams of professionals, rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential and the best IT pros can communicate their ideas, listen to others’ suggestions, and know when to assume a leadership role and when to be a team player.
  • Leadership Capacity. Even for those not in a management position, project or team management opportunities frequently arise. Project management requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and an unwavering focus on the end goal. IT professionals are also frequently involved in vendor management so communication with vendors and partners is essential to ensure client needs are being met efficiently.
  • Creativity in Problem Solving. IT professionals are constantly looking toward the future, anticipating and developing solutions for potential tech problems and needs. This sort of forward thinking requires a lot of imagination and creative problem solving. Employers therefore seek out tech professionals who are able to develop creative solutions, often on the fly.
  • Effective Negotiation. Arguably every position in IT requires some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling ideas to your organization or client. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make candidates stand out and can often lead to the management track.

Take an inventory of your soft skills and think about where you’re strongest and where you have room to grow. Focusing on improving these key skills could be what helps you land that dream job.

MORE: Does college prepare students for work

Ashwin Rao

Ashwin Rao
Ashwin Rao is the executive vice president and chief sales officer of Collabera, a U.S.-based IT services firm that provides onsite, offsite and offshore services to Fortune 500 clients worldwide.

Ashwin Rao

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