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Management Strategies

02:15 PM
Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, <i>InformationWeek</i>
Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, InformationWeek
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IT Professional Need to Improve Soft Skills to Ensure Job Security, Experts Say

Project management, leadership and communication among sought-after IT skills.

For CIOs looking to advance their careers, becoming a package deal may be the answer. Employers are looking for IT pros with training that goes beyond just tech certifications, says Elizabeth Holloran, program manager at SkillSoft (Nashua, N.H.), which offers IT and business-related e-learning courses. Most in demand are certification combos that show an understanding of business, technology and "soft skills," such as communication, leadership and project management.

Certifications sometimes are perceived as a dime a dozen because the value of tech-specific training lasts only as long as the specific technology is hot. But training that combines technology, soft skills and business acumen is more valuable, Holloran says. Among the most popular certifications sought by SkillSoft's 3,000 customers are Six Sigma and project management.

The Society of Information Management (SIM; Chicago) sees a similar trend among its CIO and tech executive members. Project planning, functional-area process knowledge and company-specific knowledge were the skill sets they identified as most valuable to companies.

Beyond improving an employee's value to the firm, project management certification also can boost salaries. Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute positively influences pay at all levels of experience, according to data from PayScale, a Seattle-based provider of online, global compensation data. Certification hiked the pay of IT pros with five to 20 years of experience between 4 percent and 6 percent, PayScale says. But experience is assumed to be as relevant as a certification, so the longer a person is in a job, the less the certification matters, notes Al Lee, PayScale's director of quantitative analysis.

Courtesy of InformationWeek, a CMP Technology property.

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