Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How to avoid jobs ripe for outsourcing


Some jobs will stay an integral part of your company over the long haul; some are headed elsewhere. Here’s a rough guide to telling the difference

It's not enough to be a hot code jockey anymore. There are thousands in India and China -- not to mention U.S.-based outsourcers -- just waiting to take your job.

"Purely technical skills are the ones most likely to be outsourced," says Kate Kaiser, associate professor of Information Technology at Marquette University.

In a ground-breaking study published in 2006, Kaiser interviewed more than 100 CIOs and senior vice presidents, asking them what skills will stay in-house during the next few years and which are more likely to be outsourced.

The gist: Jobs that combined business-savvy with technical expertise will remain; purely technical positions are vulnerable.

That's not to say premium development expertise is unappreciated. Indeed, startups tend to set the technical skills bar very high. Without them, you won't get in the door. "I need someone strong in the fundamentals that come from a good school. I take that as a given," says David Smith, vice president of applied engineering at Firefly Energy.

Perhaps the best way to understand the skills you need to succeed in today's startup market is to think of a multistage rocket. The first stage -- hard skills such as a deep knowledge of programming and development languages -- get you off the ground. The second stage -- business, leadership, and communication skills -- sends you into orbit.