Having desirable tech skills is key
The U.S. and Europe appear to be especially hard hit, though the downturn is being felt worldwide. Still, tech workers might consider moving to China, Canada, or other stronger markets where the demand for IT skills -- and the opportunities to develop new ones -- remains good. A move abroad may also give you more than technical skills: It can make you more appealing to companies that have global teams, an increasing reality everywhere.
To remain competitive, IT workers need a combination of the 30 essential basic skills -- including, according to one survey, strong ethics and morals -- and abilities in emerging recession-proof areas where demand remains high, such as security, VoIP, and wireless. And don't forget about not-so-hot areas that are critical to companies' abilities to keep running: Cobol skills can be great job insurance, for example. And don't forget about skills that have been hot for a while and thus tend to be neglected, such as open source, .Net, and Java.
Certifications also can help, especially management ones. But beware: Not all certifications are that valuable. Some are simply expected -- and may be necessary to even be considered for a job -- while others are superfluous. That's especially true for technical certifications; outside of security and networking, they're not proving that valuable. Those that do tend to give you an edge involve management and business-specific training -- skills that business managers more easily understand than technical ones.
Read the other stories in this special report: 2009 IT career survival guide