As more and more businesses shift towards acquiring and developing technology, the demand for information technology services is expected to continue growing. However, while career opportunities for IT talent are exponential, technology is also moving at a fast rate.
To stay on top of the IT career ladder, IT professionals need to be forward-thinkers and have a clear vision of where they want their careers to go. Whether you’re in cybersecurity, software development, or any other field in IT, here are a few ways you can enhance your IT career.
Be open to change
The only constant in this world is change—but especially for the technology industry. Every year, new technologies are developed, and IT professionals need to ensure that their skills aren’t outdated like obsolete software.
Developers need to stay abreast of developments in information security and their respective programming languages, among many others. IT professionals should also be in-the-know on what technical skills are most in-demand.
For instance, a lot of organizations today are trying to adopt cloud technology into their business processes (and many experts agree that the cloud is more than just a fad), so many IT workers are moving towards or looking into careers in cloud computing.
Successful tech professionals are those who quickly adapt to change, so always be ready to update, evolve, and even expand your IT skills repertoire.
More than any professional in any industry, IT practitioners must make learning a top priority. Given the nature of rapidly evolving trends and challenges in the field, IT professionals need to be proactive about training and development opportunities.
Say, a platform that you regularly use is undergoing major updates, look up any upcoming training schedules and go over it with your manager. Emphasize that your productivity and even the company’s security is dependent on being an expert on the infrastructure in place.
Finally, while degrees in information technology or computer science are common among IT professionals, you may also want to consider pursuing higher education in business analysis, business management, quality assurance, and project management. Enroll in online courses to learn new languages or to get into a completely new but growing field like virtual reality.
There are also many valuable certification programs available such as the ITIL certification that can serve as a strong foundation for IT practitioners.
Work on your communication skills
For tech workers who are mostly writing code and working with tools, communication skills are often considered an afterthought. However, according to a report, the CIOs surveyed have said that a major area that IT professionals could improve on was communication including both written and face-to-face. They also agreed that communication skills are needed to advance a career in technology.
This means that it’s not enough for tech workers to know the software development or any other technical aspect of their job. They need to know how to successfully explain and even teach how a piece of software or technology can help the company achieve its goals.
A good investment that any IT worker can make is the time, money, and effort in a technical writing class (or get management buy-in to invest in you and/or your team). This can help you write better emails involving complex problems or explaining solutions to a new client, improving the communication and collaboration between you and non-technical individuals.
Many IT professionals such as support technicians face customers on a regular basis and are expected to have customer service skills. However, even web developers, quality assurance specialists, and other tech workers in non-customer-facing positions should always have the end user in mind if they want to advance their career in IT.
Work on your interpersonal, problem-solving, and listening skills. When you are helping customers or developing programs for people who did not receive a technical education like you, be patient as they depend on you to help them use a product.
Build a network
The need to network cannot be overemphasized as an IT professional. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know but who you know.”
Joining tech meetups is one of the best ways to meet people within the IT industry or specific field and enable you to build relationships that can prove to be valuable when you are looking for new opportunities, clients, or freelance projects.
If you’re not ready to attend local tech meetups and network face-to-face, start with social media. Be on LinkedIn, complete your profile with interesting and useful details, and add a photo that communicates your professionalism. Join groups relevant to the work that you do and participate in conversations.
The technology job market may be growing, but any tech worker who wants to be successful should be proactive about advancing his/her IT career. Be ready to adapt to change, have a desire for learning, develop your soft skills, and build a solid professional network, and you’re on your way to having a satisfying career in the field of technology.