Posted by Robert Half on 02 December 2015
While the thought of writing a line of code might go against every instinct you have, learning how to code can give you a distinct edge in today's digital job market.
To make their teams as lean and mean as possible, agencies and in-house departments are hiring digital professionals who can sufficiently handle the tasks of related disciplines – from SEO to programming to writing code. Because of the digital workplace in which we live, the ability to code –even in its simplest form – is becoming a skill that is highly sought by hiring managers. Put simply, if you're a digital professional looking to boost your career then having coding skills makes you a hot commodity.
Despite this opportunity, some digital professionals are reluctant to jump on the coding bandwagon. Many see their roles as purely "creative" and feel developers or computer programmers, for example, should be responsible for the "technical" aspects of a given project. Granted, with digital professionals the line is starting to blur with developers on a day-to-day basis, but learning a coding language could benefit you career.
If you can get over this way of thinking, then learning how to code is in your best interest. It will enable you to:
1. Add to your skill set and boost your marketability. As you keep yourself up to date on existing digital trends, coding is a completely new, yet related, competency that more and more employers seek. You might not need to get started on learning how to code today, tomorrow or next month – but eventually you might have to. As noted, there's already a demand for this skill. If only learning the basic, starting to learn how to code now will help give you an edge.
2. Stretch your definition of innovation. Digital professionals are known for their innovative thinking. When you think of coding languages, innovation might not be the first word that comes to mind. But think of what they're capable of producing: responsive websites, complex gaming worlds, smartphone apps – the list is endless. Here's a good analogy: Think of code like music. Both require knowledge of a specific language: Java for coders and musical notes for musicians. Innovation comes into play when that knowledge is applied – when you're able to string together notes or pieces of code to create something complex, intriguing and revolutionary, like say… the internet. In that same vein, approaching innovation through coding may help you explore new possibilities.
3. Send hiring managers a message. Even if an employer is not specifically seeking a digital pro who can code, the fact that you know how to do it tells them that you're versatile and willing to learn new things.
4. Be an invaluable liaison. Knowing how to code puts you in the unique position of translating between two languages – ‘design-speak’ and ‘code-talk’. If you've ever worked with Product or Engineering departments, sometimes the jargon they're using makes absolutely no sense to you. Knowing a bit of their lingo can also help fill the gap.
5. Be more collaborative. By filling in those gaps, you start to foster a more collaborative environment among the entire team. Productivity goes up and squabbling goes down. And, as an extra benefit, you're strengthening yourself as a leader.
6. Bring your digital skills full circle. Instead of advising changes or updates to the tech team, take the reins and make the changes yourself. It might seem like a longer process but, in the long run, it can be more efficient. No back-and-forth emails or "need clarification" questions. It's all in your control!
7. Feel the coder's pain. OK, so you gave coding an honest try, but you're just not that into it. Not to worry. Going through the process of learning to code should give you some idea of what die-hard coders have to go through to produce quality work. As a digital professional, you know how maddening it is to hear someone complain about a change that is seemingly minor to them but is of considerable importance for you. Don't be that person for coders!
Coding skills will give you another perspective to consider in your career work, help you empathise with full-time coders and, ultimately, strengthen your team. Design might always be your core competency, but understanding programming and coding will make you that much more desirable to hiring managers.
Are you a digital professional with coding skills? Looking for a new challenge? Get in touch with us today.
This article was adapted from The Creative Group