Think You Know AI? Why Tech Professionals Should Keep Chasing These Skills

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By Randi Weitzman, Executive Director, Technology and Marketing and Creative Talent Solutions for Permanent Placements The only way to stay ahead in your tech career is to never let your knowledge fall behind. For tech professionals who want to succeed in this AI-shaped world, upgrading skills is not just helpful — it’s essential. According to Robert Half’s e-book, Building Future-Forward Tech Teams, 90% of technology leaders said they plan to implement initiatives involving AI this year. So I encourage anyone working in a tech or IT position now — even if you have no plans to look for a new role — to focus on staying competitive by getting some experience with it. It’s being said in recruiting circles that it won’t necessarily be AI that replaces you, but a human who can better work with AI. This technology is rapidly creating new requirements for roles — and in some cases entirely new positions — that didn’t exist a few years ago, which means incredible opportunities in just about every industry. Digging deeper into AI and its still-evolving capabilities positions you as an innovator at your organization. You can take the lead in applying new technologies that can streamline operations and add real value.
Sixty-five percent of tech leaders surveyed for the e-book report a skills gap within their department, and they ranked AI and machine learning as the area where these skills gaps are most evident. What’s more, 48% said the lack of AI skills is their greatest barrier to success for their department or company’s AI strategy. Depending on a company’s priorities and projects, the AI expertise and experience they seek when hiring or developing professionals can vary. Based on insights from technology experts, the e-book highlights some of the most sought-after skills tech professionals can build to more effectively work with AI — and make themselves more marketable. Here are some to consider: Programming: How’s your fluency in Python, Java, C++, R and Julia? These are widely used tools for AI development, and each language has different capabilities and benefits when it comes to working with AI. When deciding which languages to master, be sure to choose those that best apply to your project needs or applications. Data analysis and statistics: Think about whether expanding your ability to evaluate and understand complicated data sets — a key component of working with AI for many roles — could help your career. As noted in the e-book, some skills you could acquire or brush up on include how to perform statistical analysis and derive insights to assess model features, conduct hypothesis testing and interpret model results using tools like NumPy and statistical modeling techniques. Machine learning: A smart career move may be boosting your ability to develop algorithms that allow computers to learn from data to make predictions or perform specific tasks. Consider expanding your knowledge of techniques like regression, classification, clustering, deep learning, reinforcement learning and natural language processing. Software engineering: It may be time to advance your understanding of and experience with software development lifecycle management, software design patterns, version control, testing and debugging, in addition to deploying AI solutions. Ethics and responsible AI: This emerging technology is a new, unknown territory for most companies, and employers are looking for professionals who are deeply aware of ethical considerations and responsible practices for developing and deploying AI. When working on projects or learning new skills related to AI, always keep fairness, transparency, accountability and privacy in mind. Want to explore other AI focus areas — like big data technologies, deep learning networks and computer vision algorithms? Find them in the e-book.
Here are some avenues for learning that can help you close the gaps in your AI knowledge and make yourself more marketable for new roles or promotions:
    1. Pursue continuous learning through online courses, workshops and certifications focusing on AI and related fields. Many institutions offer cost-effective, specialized programs to help professionals learn new skills. 2. Connect with professionals in the AI field. Go to industry conferences, join online forums and take part in community events to keep up with the latest trends. 3. Apply what you learn to projects or tasks in your current role. Hands-on experience is priceless and shows your dedication to mastering new technologies. 4. If your organization doesn’t offer opportunities to flex your new skills, take the initiative to propose new projects or processes to your manager that will. This demonstrates initiative and drive to help the business succeed. And when you no longer feel challenged and there is little room to grow, you could consider looking for a new role. 5. Become an AI thought leader. Share what you’re learning and creating with AI with your online network or through blog posts, articles or speaking engagements. Doing so can help position you as a go-to source for the latest knowledge.
By actively enhancing your skill set and staying up to speed on AI developments, you can help secure your current position and create opportunities for future career growth. The investment in your professional development is an investment in your future success in any industry.