Building and growing a successful career in IT does not happen by accident. It takes lots of learning, planning, and strategizing. You will need to choose your area of expertise, acquire the right skills and knowledge, brand yourself and, above all, keep improving your IT skills and knowledge.
So, what does it take to launch a successful IT career?
Be a Life-Long Learner
The IT industry is extremely dynamic, changing faster than ever. To stay on top of these changes, it is immensely important to cultivate an always-learning mindset. Taking a university diploma in IT is not enough to succeed. No matter if you want to become a cybersecurity professional, learn a new programming language, or embrace the movement to the cloud, continuous education is critical for you as an IT professional.
- Take IT courses online.
- Find vendor-provided training opportunities.
- Register on e-learning platforms.
- Listen to podcasts.
- Read books by authoritative people in the industry.
- Go to relevant conferences.
- Participate in online communities.
- Read industry-specific whitepaper and blogs.
Keep Improving Leadership and Management Skills
If you want to climb the corporate ladder, manage projects from start to finish, and even start your own IT business at some point, you will also need to work on leadership and management skills.
- Ask questions continuously.
- Take on more responsibility. Work on different projects to gain wide experiences.
- Improve your soft skills. Be a great communicator. Learn to listen.
- Learn to solve interpersonal problems, instead of ignoring or encouraging them.
- Develop situational awareness. A good IT professional can see a bigger picture and anticipate potential problems before they even come up.
Specialize in Something
When just embarking on your IT career, you will want to become a jack of all trades. While any IT professional should have a range of different IT experiences and skills, it is still important not to spread yourself too thin.
Remember that the IT industry is wide. Your goal is to pick the area of IT you like the most and become an expert in it. Mediocrity won’t help you get noticed and land your desired job. Choose a few areas that are related and master them so you can find a better-paid job and be an expert in your team.
For example, if you want to move into cybersecurity, there are the three fundamental certifications to get – CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+. Take accredited cybersecurity courses that cover these key subjects and help you learn at your own pace.
Like I have already mentioned, IT is hyperdynamic. Every few years, there will be new trends and technologies to play with. You will need to keep learning continually, be able to adapt, and stay on top of industry trends in order to stay competitive.
No matter if you have just graduated from college or looking for a job at a prestigious technology corporation, you first need to set yourself apart from other candidates and grab recruiters’ attention right from the start. In the fierce IT sector, personal branding plays an immensely important role.
- Be aware of a colossal impact of social networks on the IT industry.
Many companies are now using LinkedIn to connect with the right candidates. This is the largest social network for professionals that lets you join communities, network continually, and connect with prospective employers on a more personal level.
To harness the power of LinkedIn, choose a professional photo. Write a catchy summary of your skills, education, and personality traits. Add relevant skills to your get enough endorsements. Write articles to position yourself as an authoritative figure. Communicate with the connections from the industry and provide helpful tips.
- Write an exceptional resume
Did you know that a recruiter takes 6 seconds to skim through your resume? Use this time to grab their attention, intrigue them, and convince them that you are the right choice for them. Focus on the most essential skills and background information. Adapt the resume to the recruiter’s specific needs. Remove any spelling and grammar mistakes. Most importantly, invest in the design of your CV. Keep it professional, legible, and engaging.
Learn about the Business
Apart from your IT skills and knowledge, you should also learn about the company you are working at. Being an amazing C++ programmer, for example, is not enough for you to succeed. To meet your employer’s needs, you first need to understand your industry and know how your company does business. Only this way will you be able to provide your organization with the IT products that align with their needs and help them improve performance.
When starting a career in the hypercompetitive IT industry, you need to have a solid plan. These tips will help you position yourself as an IT professional, nudge your career in the right direction, and keep your eye on the future.