More and more, we see indications that the number of technology jobs is increasing. However, whether you’re looking for a new job or not, you should be thinking about career planning. It's an essential component to your longevity and competitiveness in the IT marketplace.
As someone who works with talented tech professionals every day, I see people who understand the challenges of career planning and advancement. But many others make some key mistakes that could hold them back. To help with both your short- and long-term planning, I’ve identified three key traps you could be falling into right now. While I'm at it, I’ve got some tips to help you remedy them.
- Trying to be an expert in everything. Expanding your skills is an excellent way to stay fresh and up-to-date in an industry that's constantly evolving. However, the trend I've been seeing from employers recently suggests that specialization is highly sought after in most candidates. So finding an area of interest and pursuing skills there could give you a great boost. Seeking mentoring opportunities or additional training and certification in a specific area (MCITP, VCP and ACSP are some certifications that are in high demand right now) can help make you more marketable, and more like to get hired.
- Focusing solely on technical ability. Though technical skill is essential, many professionals make the mistake of focusing all their attention on gaining and honing those skills. In today’s workplace, all professionals—including IT professionals—are expected to have a certain level of business acumen, as well as a high level of interpersonal communication skills. In other words, they're expected to offer more than tech skills to their team. From volunteering to lead committees to offering basic training to others, there are many ways to improve the overall package of your talents.
- Not tracking your successes. Maybe you're extremely happy in your current position and aren’t actively looking for a new job. Or maybe you’ve put hours into your resume and are happy with how it looks, so you really don’t want to spend any time trying to make it more effective. In either case, avoiding this mistake can have one of the biggest impacts on your career: tracking your IT successes. When your work directly leads to an increase in productivity, a decrease in cost, or any type of improvement within your department or organization, track it with as much detail as possible. Numbers and percentages make the most impact.Now this will undoubtedly help you to stand out if and when you search for a new role.Tracking your successes can also impact your current job. During annual reviews or when you’re asking for a raise, your ability to present concrete data to support your accomplishments and prove your value will help maximize your leverage. So start tracking your accomplishments now, and if you can recall enough detail about previous achievements, take a few minutes and write them out so you’re not scrambling for them in the future.