Five Ways to Succeed in Your IT Career

IT careers differ from other types of IT careers in that the tools you work with are constantly changing and the competition among IT pros is fierce. In other words, an IT career pro’s is not a 30-year stint of routine days followed by the reward of a gold watch.

If you want to stay at the top of the IT game, you have to be vigilant and always work to improve your game. Here are six tips for making sure that you do just that:

Keep Learning

This might seem like a lot to ask from IT career pros who typically work over-40-hour weeks. The last thing some of you want to do after hours is a study for a cert or scour the web for information about the newest corporate tech phenomenon. But keep your eyes open and your curiosity keen is what’s going to make you more employable.

I’m not just talking about earning a certification that will aid you in the field you’re currently in. You should be aware of the current terrain in corporate IT. For example, the IT career pros who knew about the cloud when it was just emerging and were able to talk to company management about it had a leg up.

Make yourself focus on a new and different skill every quarter or twice a year.  And those skills you learn about don’t always have to be strategic ones to make you do your job better. One IT Career pro I spoke to recommended IT career pros learn “basic” skills like doing sysadmin work from the command line since new technology products don’t always have powerful GUIs.

Don’t Focus Just on the Break/Fix Aspect of IT

I understand it’s pretty easy to get caught up in putting out fires all day, particularly if your company is working with less-than-optimum tools or the staff is short-handed. But try when you can to look up from the grindstone now and then to focus on more strategic aspects of IT career, like software deployments and optimization, and tools that can fill business needs.

Don’t underestimate People’s skills

Also called “soft skills,” these are the personal qualities, attitudes, and social graces that make someone compatible to work with. A lack of people skills can stall your career like nothing else. You might be able to be snarky toward that end-user who loses his password daily, but sooner or later, you’re going to be the one known for a bad attitude.

But “soft skills” isn’t just “getting along with others.” They include problem-solving skills, a strong work ethic, the ability to work well under pressure, flexibility in your attitude, etc. Think of it this way: Who do you think will get further in a career–the capable guy who people hate to talk to or the capable guy who is also approachable?

Make Your Resume a Live, Ongoing Document

Just because you keep your resume honed and up to date doesn’t mean you’re not loyal to your current employer. But be aware that anything can happen — an unexpected layoff or company reorganization — that will make you glad you have your resume at the ready.

Here’s another reason for keeping your resume up to date: You’re less likely to forget about those little projects and career coups that you do at your current job if you don’t make note of them when they happen. I had a co-worker once who wrote down every “win” she experienced at work, whether it was a presentation she put together or a small project she completed.

These small types of things might not seem relevant at the time but it’s better to have more career “feats” to choose from than too few when filling out a resume.

Build Your Contact List

You know how they say it’s not what you know, but who you know? I’m afraid there’s a lot of truth to that statement. But more and more, it’s not about having your uncle’s best friend get you an interview at a company.

With social media and the internet, it’s much easier to meet people who are in the same field and who share many of the same interests. If you are a regular poster in any other tech site, you’re bound to develop relationships with others in your field. Then, if you’re looking for a job, you have a ready-made network of friends who can let you know about job openings. It’s sometimes hard for an IT career pro to stand out from the crowd, but by following these five tips, you’ll have a leg up.

Boost Your IT Career With Cross-Training

Cross-training in the workplace involves the practice of training a person to do someone else’s job, whether that be within the same department, within other departments, or at other levels of responsibility.

Benefits of Cross-Training in the Workplace:

In a busy IT department, you may find that certain people have unique skills that are in a lot of demand, and therefore get assigned a disproportionate amount of work in comparison to their teammates.

While there may be enough employees within the IT department to get all the work done, some of those staff may be overworked and may consequently fall behind in their tasks because they are being assigned so many duties. The other employees, on the other hand, may become bored because they are not getting assigned enough work.

Cross-training can fix this by giving other workers a chance to learn some of those in-demand skills and taking some of the load off the overworked employees’ shoulders, thereby reducing backlogs without having to hire extra staff.

Other reasons to cross-train include:

  • Preventing risks to the company is associated with having only one person know how to do a particular job, which can become a problem in the case of illness, vacation, retirement, or other circumstances that cause absence.
  • Preventing people from getting so specialized in one area that they hoard all the work or refuse to learn something new.
  • Improving communication and promoting a team atmosphere and a sense of ownership and understanding of the things that go on in other areas of one’s department, in other departments, or at other levels of the company.
  • Providing opportunities for rotation and promoting peer oversight to more easily pinpoint areas of inefficiency or corruption.
  • Boosting morale and motivation by giving employees a mental break from what they’re always doing and offering some variety.
  • Giving employees a chance to grow and learn new skills without having to leave the company or go back to school.

Barriers to Cross-Training

Some employees may be reluctant to cross-train for several reasons:

  • They like being irreplaceable and feel like they won’t be as important to the company if someone else learns how to do their job.
  • The extra time it takes to cross-train someone may seem like a waste for employees who are used to working at a certain pace or have deadlines to meet and would rather just do it themselves.
  • Some people may be intimidated by the idea of mentoring or teaching others.
  • Some employees may be comfortable with what they’re doing at the moment and may not be interested in learning someone else’s job, or they may fear that if they acquire more skills, that will result in more duties piled on their plates.

True cross-training, however, is not designed to jeopardize a person’s position in the company. Even if it takes time at first, it is supposed to alleviate everyone’s workload in the end and is not to be used to dump extra responsibilities on people.

And for those employees who fear they are not good teachers, one-on-one cross-training is not necessarily ideal in every single situation; sending an employee to a training course may be more appropriate.

About the author: Stacie Orlandi is a professional essay writer reddit. She has experience in the field and has written several articles. In addition to writing, she likes Psychology and takes part in conferences and presentations to learn more about this discipline. Her dream is to help people cope with their problems.

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