The battle for technological relevance continue to sweep across all industries raising high demand for Information Technology Professionals and more tech orientated personnel.
Companies are now computer systems driven and their survival is now hinged on the amounts they invest in building ICT infrastructures to support their operations in this dynamic digital age. Thus being said, to sustain a modern company’s operations, companies now need to recruit more IT experienced personnel to takeover critical responsibilities such as hardware maintenance, software development, web support, network support etc.
However, despite the obvious visible changes in career path, scholars especially in Zimbabwe’s local universities continue to pursue less marketable programs putting themselves on higher risks of unemployment after graduation. So if you are studying towards an IT degree or certification, here are a few tips of making yourself the most wanted skilled personnel in the industry:
1. Everyone starts off by knowing nothing. Apart from a small number of gifted people, the rest of us have to work hard to learn stuff and remember it.
2. In the olden days, you could get by just by being good at your job. Those days are almost gone now. If you want to be considered a professional then get some professional certifications. Deal with it.
3. You should aim to pass an exam every 4 months unless it is a very hard one such as the CCIE. Go for a mix of technical and complementary such as project management or design.
4. If you have been in the same role more than 18 months then chances are you have stopped learning. Look to advance in the company or move jobs. Don’t be a coward.
5. Technical people can no longer afford to be geeks. People with people skills get ahead, geeks are left in the basement to rot.
6. In order to learn you must have access to the relevant software or equipment. Try to bluff it with simulators and you will be found out come exam day or when you are hit with a crisis at work and there is nobody there to help you.
7. You are responsible for your success. Don’t blame your wife, husband, kids or boss for your lack of ambition or success. If you want it, go and get it. If your partner isn’t on side then it might be time to find another one.
8. Stop asking for career advice on forums. They are mainly populated by teenagers or frustrated geeks. Go ask somebody who is actually doing what it is you want to be doing.
9. If you want to perform well in interviews then work on your confidence, learn your subjects well (see 6), research the job and company and learn to negotiate. I’ve taken jobs and been paid $10,000 more then the guy sitting next to me because I learned to negotiate (see my Get into IT course for more info on this).
10. Everybody fails exams from time to time. Learn what you need to from the experience and move on. Don’t cry and complain about it, that’s what kids do.
11. Never choose a career path because you’ve heard it pays well. Even if it does, you will be miserable if you choose the career for money.
12. Work out what makes you happy and fulfilled in a job and build a career around that. Fixing things = technical, meeting people = sales, solving business problems = project management, designing things = design, sitting alone at a PC = programming. You get my drift.
13. The highest earners have good people skills, have stayed current with their skills, are certified, have worked for several companies and value themselves.
14. Your boss will work you into the ground if you let him. Shift work, on call without pay, no lunch break and zero training. If this is happening to you then find a better job and leave as a matter of urgency. Better to drive a van for FedEx than do that.
15. A degree in IT is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. After spending three years and around $50,000 you will be qualified to do nothing in particular. Meanwhile you will have lost out on three years salary and experience. Maybe you can ask to do some free intern work for another year and see how that works out!
16. If you want to be wealthy then a job will never cut it. Find out what the market wants and what you enjoy doing and then start your own business. Read some sales and marketing books and make a start, even if it’s in your spare time (see my IT Freelancing course). When I left Cisco I started my own company doing training and network installations. I quadrupled my income and worked around three days per week. (Also see my course How to Build a Million Dollar Company).
17. Don’t get too comfortable in your job. It’s easy to do when you are in a great team but consider your long term prospects and career. See 4.
18. Books, software and website memberships are not costs, they are investments. They are only a cost if you join and never take an exam (which is what 80% of people do which makes them a lazy slob). That $120 you spent on access to a training website will turn into your hourly rate when you are at a high level. Trust me, I’ve done it and more.
19. You will never feel technical enough. I used to work at Cisco and took calls from CCIEs who didn’t know how to recover a router with a lost password! The joke was this guy was earning $200,000 freelancing and I was making $35,000 on the helpdesk.
20. Make a plan for your career. Otherwise you will hit 50 and be stuck, frustrated and afraid of losing your crappy job but you will have kids to support by then. You can adjust the plan as you go along but no plan means you are doomed to let others make decisions for you.
21. Most internal promotions are based on who knows who, politics, personal preferences and prejudices. Keep your religious, political and sexual views to yourself but even then, don’t expect to get promoted on merit alone. It’s much easier to progress by joining another company at a higher level.
22. Never post insulting, drunk or naked images on your social media. It’s the first place HR look when they are considering you for a job interview.
23. Never use company resources or e-mail for personal reasons. Everything you do and write is recorded somewhere and may be used in evidence against you.
24. You are never too old to start a career in IT.
25. Don’t complain you can’t get a job without experience. If that was really the case then how the heck does anybody get a job in IT? Use a proven plan and then apply for 10 or more jobs every week until you succeed. Network with people, call 100 companies, visit job fairs and call recruitment agents. Do whatever it takes.
26. Your company policy may say you can dress down but cover up your tattoos, breasts, piercings. Get a shave, get a smart haircut, dress smart, smell good and what the heck, maybe even brush your teeth. It will make a world of difference.
27. At the end of you career you will remember the people you helped and challenges you overcame. If you aren’t doing either of these then you will have no fond memories (and probably no friends).
28. Share your knowledge. We all know that guy who things he needs to keep what he knows a secret. What a jerk.