[Editor's note: This article is part of a series highlighting the most in-demand IT skills in 2021, how job seekers can learn these skills, and how they can stand out in an interview.]
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the year will bring, and businesses need people with a range of skills – particularly the ability to roll with the punches. For that reason, adaptability is one of the most important skills for IT professionals in 2021.
Of course, core technology skills have always been table stakes, and these will continue to be more important than ever as companies shift to new digital models. Experience with native cloud development, serverless technology, programming with Python, React frameworks, and more will be essential. But just as important will be soft skills like communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving.
[ What skills are hottest right now? Read also: IT careers: 10 critical skills to master in 2021. ]
Pre-COVID, IT was a department, a function. Now, IT is the business: Every business today must be a digital, information technology, and engagement business. As a result, the ability to not only do your tech job well, but to work effectively and cross-functionally across the business is critical.
IT has become integral to a business’s ability to grow organically and sustainably through new lines of business, value propositions, customers, products, markets, and solutions. For that reason, it’s helpful to be able to put yourself directly in the mindset of users.
How to build adaptability skills
There’s plenty of competition for strong talent, so keep your skills fresh and stay marketable by adapting to new ways of working, learning, and communicating.
Participating in various tech communities, completing certifications, training on new skills, and taking courses online can all help you prepare for the year ahead, which may require the need to switch gears at a moment’s notice. Also work to scale your skills and share your experiences by speaking at industry conferences and trainings, and more.
How to stand out
The best leaders are storytellers. Be prepared to tell the story of your career – how you’ve progressed and adapted to new situations, challenges you’ve overcome, what you’ve learned, how you’ve raised the team around you, and whether you were a force multiplier or an individual contributor.
In particular, make clear the tangible value of your contributions to your product, team, business – and most importantly, customers.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]