Trying to climb the corporate IT ladder is tough enough, but differentiating yourself from the pack is even tougher. Learn what it takes to build a plan for success and get ahead as an IT pro.
IIt has been a good year for the technology field with experts reporting that 10 percent of all new jobs in June were within the tech market--a trend expected to continue through 2013. This is good news for those IT professionals thinking about moving up, changing positions or finding a new job. But to make those moves possible, you need to make yourself more valuable to employers.
According to CIOs, career consultants and experts, just showing up and doing a great job isn't enough. You need to show a dedication to professional growth and the ability to evolve with technology. The blueprint for success may vary from company to company, but the items in this slideshow will help you succeed.
Talk With Your Supervisor and HR
Let your boss and HR representative know that you are serious about doing what it takes to succeed. According to David Brookmire, a corporate professional development consultant, if you're in a mid-to-large company, the HR department will have established competencies by levels such as IT pro level, director level, for example.
"Go to HR directly and ask, or your company's portal may have the information," says Brookmire. This is a great way to begin to develop your career development plan.
Find a Mentor
A mentor can be helpful in a number of ways and is, in many cases, essential to climbing the corporate IT ladder. They can offer advice on tricky career situations or offer a recommendation for an internal promotion. They have a wealth of knowledge on both the technical and business sides and are willing to share it with you. The bottom-line is if you don't have one, find out if your company has a mentoring program and get one.
"Mentoring is critical," says Hugh Scott , CIO at Energy Plus, "[and] one of the requirements to learn and grow is through working with someone in a formal or informal capacity to build that mentoring relationship."
Work on an Open Source Project or Volunteer Your Time
"The ability for personal growth and development happens all around us and not just in a formal classroom setting," says Keith Perry, associate vice president and deputy CIO at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. There are a number of outlets where as a programmer/developer you can work on projects that interest you and help you become a better IT professional.
You could try volunteering your skills at a nonprofit that is investing in a technology you are excited about. There are also local UseNet developer groups teeming with people who are excited and passionate about the technology they are using. Be careful; it can be contagious.
Learn More about Your Company's Business
"My biggest suggestion for IT professionals is find an industry in which they have a passion and invest in understanding the business, not just the IT aspects," says Keith Perry, associate vice president and deputy CIO at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Knowing how the business works will allow you to leverage your technical skills to innovate and solve the businesses problems. "While IT supports the business strategy, technology advances also inform the possibilities for where the company can go," says Tana Heminsley, CEO and Founder of Authentic Leadership Global.
Develop Your Network
Most jobs are found through professional networks, so get out there. Whether it's at events, developer meet-ups or social media, you've got to grow your network of trusted professionals. "You have to be proactive. You have to reach out and identify the folks who make the decisions and build a relationship with them. Most of us are so busy that we aren't going to go out and seek those meetings or connect with those people," says David Brookmire.
"Relationships are essential to getting anything done; and while they are skills that can be learned, they are not always ones that you are taught in the IT field," says Tana Heminsley, CEO and Founder of Authentic Leadership Global, a company that offers leadership development programs.
Know What You Want
"When advancing within a company involves managing people, it might become difficult for some highly technical employees to find that promotion. I find it common for IT professionals to lack any interest in managing, leading or coaching other IT professionals, and I believe that is critical for promotions," says Guillermo Ortiz de Zarate, director of information systems at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Its hard to get excited about what youre doing if you're not really that interested in it. "Find your passion within the field. Don't follow the money or the fads", says Zarate, "If you develop skills in the subjects you love, you will have no problem with continued success."
Set Realistic Goals
Setting clear and concise professional development goals is paramount to career success.