ADVANCING YOUR CAREER
Education can serve as a strong foundation for advancement. There are degrees and certifications which may enhance an IT professional’s career path. Degrees in computer science and computer engineering are common amongst developers, but can also be helpful to business analysts (BA), quality assurance specialists (QAS), and project managers (PM). BAs and PMs may also benefit from degrees with a business emphasis, such as business management. There are also countless certification programs available.
Although it may be tempting to enhance a resume with as many degrees and certifications as possible, most recruiters and IT hiring managers will agree that is not an effective strategy. Instead, IT professionals should focus on the training behind the education and ask the question “will this training translate into
There is no substitute for job experience. Career advancement possibilities improve dramatically for those with over 2 years experience in a given area. In general, the more the experience the better, as the most sought after candidates are those with 6-10 years of it. Given the nature of rapidly evolving trends in information technology, experience by the number of years doesn’t necessarily translate into career advancement. Candidates must be able to demonstrate that they’re staying abreast of emerging technologies. Ten years of experience with legacy technologies is only going to be desirable to a narrow segment of potential employers.
No matter how skilled you are, without the requisite soft
- Communication: Written and verbal ability to effectively communicate ideas.
- Business-Tech Liaison: A subset of communication, this is the ability to speak in the language of both business and technology.
- Presentation Skills: Another subset of communication, the ability to present well to a group can open up the doors of advancement.
- Team Skills: Working well with others, both leading and following well, and the ability to add value to the team.
- Work Ethic: Possessing a strong motivation to get the job done.
- Focus and Vision: The ability to focus on the details without losing sight of the big picture.
- Positive Attitude: Optimistic, energetic,
good willedindividuals make better team members.
- Time Management: Taking a “Getting things done” approach to IT work.
- Self Confidence: Believing in your own ability and not being afraid to ask the tough questions.
- Response to Criticism: The best learners respond well to and actively seek out criticism for
- Flexibility and Adaptability: The ability to be a generalist when required.
- Handling stress: The ability to perform well under the pressure of tight deadlines.
- Etiquette and Punctuality: Things like returning calls, being on time, table manners and saying “thanks” really do matter.
Goals, both personal and professional, should be an important part of any career advancement plan. Goals should be SMART, that is, they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive. Personal goals can include financial, developmental, health, relationship, and other goals. Ultimately, it is these goals which drive your professional goals. Professional goals are all about knowing where you are
For IT professionals who are intently focused on the software code, the tools, the technology stack, the project deadlines, etc., networking may seem like an afterthought at best. However, networking can become an integral part of a successful career advancement plan, the operative word here
Developing a Career Advancement Plan
Luckily for IT professionals, the IT industry provides good opportunities for career advancement, but advancement possibilities can always be enhanced by a good plan. A good plan should incorporate all the aforementioned elements.
- Education can serve as a solid foundation and, when used as a springboard to acquire new experience, can be a viable long term advancement strategy.
- There is no substitute for experience, especially critical skill experience in a team environment.
- Soft skills, particularly communication skills, are a must even for the most highly skilled individuals.
- Personal and professional goals can be a key driver and send a signal to employers that their investment in your career advancement will pay dividends back to them.
- Having a good professional network can encourage success, whether you need a reference for your resume, a mentor for professional development, or just someone to bounce ideas off of.
In the end, IT professionals should not merely be thankful they are in an industry with career advancement opportunities. They should craft a plan to take advantage of that possibility.