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The IT Career Builder's Toolkit, Chapter 8: Technical Skills

Another Perspective: Transcendent Skills

This concept of the value and need for ongoing technical skills development is driven by a misunderstanding of what is truly valuable. Recently on an employment discussion forum, a technologist was bemoaning this fact.

He was asking for input on what skills had the longest useful life. The concern was that the constant grind of learning and trying to figure out what skills were the next hot ones on the horizon was burning him out. What skills, he wondered, would yield a value for more than two years? Many others shared this concern.

There are two things to note here:

  • Soft skills are transcendent.
  • Most technology skills are similarly transcendent.

The first point might be well understood, if not adopted. Yes, soft skills provide ongoing bang for the buck after you learn them. Communication skills, although needing practice to remain sharp, do not change with technology. The medium of communication might change, but not the ability to communicate.

But what about the second idea? Aren't pure technology skills quickly made obsolete? How can they be transcendent? Just ask all the Cobol programmers of the 1970s and early 1980s. They will be the first to tell you that their skills became obsolete because they didn't update them.

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