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Career Watch: Escaping from a bad boss

By Jamie Eckle, Computerworld
November 16, 2009 02:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Scott Newman

The chairman of IT at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology answers questions on dealing with a bad boss, the top tech skills for the future, and entering the IT field.

My boss has a fiery temper that seems to me and my peers completely inappropriate for a professional manager. He's a good pal of his boss, who doesn't seem inclined to address this problem. What can we do? Unfortunately, there generally isn't much a person in your situation can do -- beyond reporting this as the reason for your departure during your exit interview. Your best option will probably be to update your résumé, fine-tune your skills (if necessary) and find another position under a manager you enjoy working with. If you stay in IT long enough, you'll most likely have an opportunity to lead others yourself someday. The silver lining of your current situation is the perspective you've gained on the kind of manager you don't want to be.

What are the top two or three technical skills that would help someone remain employed in the IT profession over the next few years? Obviously, the response to this question will vary depending upon the employers and workforce sectors unique to a particular area. Nevertheless, generally speaking, information assurance/digital forensics skills (e.g., system auditing and incident response) are and will be among the most in-demand for the foreseeable future.

Not all of the survey's findings were positive, though. For example, of the respondents that had increased the amount employees pay for health care premiums, 66% said they don't expect to reverse that decision. Also, 40% of companies plan to increase the percentage of health care premiums that employees pay. Another 41% said they will increase the deductibles, co-pays or out-of-pocket maximums for their 2010 health care plans. And as for retention, it might not be a real problem. The survey found that 83% of the respondents expect to see a rise in the number of employees who continue to work past the age at which they would have preferred to retire.

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Recent Career Watch Columns

* Asking for training when money is tight

* Bad work habits can hold you back in tough times

* Coping with the recession

There is no question that mobile technology will play a major role in our industry's future -- and there are relatively few individuals with the skills necessary to meet current and emerging demands. Therefore, expertise in working with the tools and technologies relevant to the mobile environment could prove invaluable to someone with an interest in software development.

The knowledge and skills necessary to design, implement and manage data centers vary from those required by more traditional infrastructure roles and are therefore in short supply. Just about every organization has at least one data center, and a number of major IT players have been moving into the market over the past several years, so opportunities for employment will almost assuredly continue to increase.

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