Tuesday, 16 August 2011

10 Tips on How To Improve Your IT Career

Know Your Value Outside The Company

It's helpful to know what your value is in the IT industry - that is, outside your own company. Knowing what other companies think of you is a good way of knowing your own value. There are several ways you can do this:

• Find out what other people with similar experience and skills to you are being paid. This can be done by searching job websites (not at your work though!) or asking job forums.
• Getting interviews with other companies. This may be hard to do while you still have a job, and may not always work, but it can be a good way to know what other companies are willing to pay you.

Also, if you're an Australian IT worker, the job website Seek has a great tool that you can use to work out your expected pay range and benefits.

Make Lists to Keep Organised

How do you ever know what you need to do, if you don't have a record of it somewhere? It might be a good idea at the start to go by a few emails you get or what your boss asks you to do. But the best IT employees use their own organisational system or set of lists to keep track of what they need to do.

The type of lists you use will depend on your preference and your job, but a simple To Do list should be enough to start. Many email programs contain a list system (such as Tasks in Microsoft Outlook) that you can use. Even a notepad or an Excel file can work.

Bonus Tip: Sign up to my email newsletter on the right of this page (the big blue box - you can't miss it!) to receive BOTH an eBook that outlines some productivity tips for Outlook, as well as an email that shows you the inspiration and reasoning behind the greatest productivity system I've seen!

Join LinkedIn
Social networking is a big thing these days. You may be on Facebook, or Twitter. Another great social networking site for professionals is LinkedIn. Essentially, it's like Facebook but for professionals. You set up your profile, add your education and work experience, and connect with people. Reasons to do this include:

• You can keep up to date with your current and former co-workers
• It's like an online resume - potential employers can find you based on your experience
• You can find jobs via LinkedIn as well
• Other people can offer you recommendations - publicly writing how good you are at your job. Which you are! Or, you will hopefully be if you've been reading the articles on my site!

Join A Group Or Association

Many industries and sub-industries in the IT world have associations or interest groups that people can join. They can be groups based on specific technologies (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint), based on specific sub-industries (Business Analysis), or workers of a certain area (IT Workers in Chicago).

Joining these groups will not only connect you with like-minded individuals, but you'll have access to a lot of information, from both the organisation and the people inside it. This will be a great benefit to your career.

Personally, I've joined a few newsletters/groups that I'm interested in, such as Oracle developers and Project Management groups. There are a lot out there - have a look around!

Get Additional Qualifications

Arguably the best tip on how to improve your IT career is to obtain more qualifications. These should be in the industry that you're aiming to improve in, but general qualifications can help. Project managers, security and networking professionals, and even specific technology developers all have a range of qualifications they can obtain.

They usually involve studying the course material, enrolling in an exam, paying a fee, and then (hopefully) passing the exam. Depending on the courses, the fees may vary. But, in the long term, you should make that money back, both in benefits to your employer and future pay rises. People with extra qualifications usually get paid more - both from their current employer, and if they decide to change employers.

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