UC&C and the job market: Career advice for IT pros

The founder of a coaching services firm talks about the demand for unified communications and collaboration experts and whether technology professionals should upgrade their skill set

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For IT professionals looking for that new job, boosting your UC&C skillset may be your ticket to stand out from the rest of the pack.

Canadian companies like to talk a big game about eventually adopting unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) tools but it seems that many are finally putting their money where their mouth is.

Spurred on by the growth of social media and a rise of consumer devices in the enterprise, a recent IDGN study notes an increased UC&C adoption in the next three years — with 90 per cent of survey respondents looking at UC&C investments within the next 12 months.

This includes investing in enterprise IP telephony, collaborative applications, videoconferencing equipment and enterprise mobility. And as firms place increased value on deploying and managing UC&C technologies that unite and enable seamless interaction between employees, customers and partners – and as vendors like Cisco and others create products to support it – they’ll need IT pros with the skillset to support it.

So could becoming more experienced in UC&C get you a promotion or a better job? Indeed, more often that not, it’s a UC&C skills gap in a company’s IT department, not any indifference to the technology.

Whether it’s UC&C or any other growing technology, IT pros should already be looking at their skill set as a prized and attractive asset, notes Alan Kearns, founder of Canadian career management and coaching services firm CareerJoy. Looking at the UC&C market, Kearns notes that IT is clearly moving towards an integrated platform and professionals need to pay attention to ensure their skills are up to date.

“No professional athlete simply expects their team to keep them on the roster. They understand that they have to keep in shape and in top form. It’s the same thing with IT professionals when looking at improving their skill set,” he offers.

As a recent TechRepublic article notes, things like not staying up-to-date with technical skills and not fully knowing the job market can serve to stall an IT career. It has truly become about continually looking at training and certifications  — and on an IT professional’s own time and dime, if need be, says Kearns.

“Changing in tune with the market is a lot different now than a decade ago. It’s a balance between chasing UC&C certification versus balancing market realities. You could very easily go from a hot space to a cold space in a matter the 36 months. This wasn’t the case in the past; you had long cycles of opportunity to get in and out of markets. You need to be careful of that. IT professionals need to carefully gauge the market to understand when it is important and valuable to get certified,” says Kearns.

With the Globe and Mail recently reporting that Canada is heating up as a destination for tech employers, IT professionals should already be “kicking the tires” on UC&C and looking at ways to improve their skillset to incorporate a working knowledge of the technology.

“Look at it like personal training for your career. It’s ongoing training on an ongoing basis. Not just when you’re laid off or when you’re job hunting – and not just when you’re getting promoted.”

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