Technology is an excellent career choice, but not everybody makes the most of it. There are those who advance, staying on tech’s cutting edge or moving into management. There are also people who spend years doing the same work and putting themselves at risk of becoming obsolete.
Here are five areas to address if you want to maximize your tech career.
1. Set Goals
Goals focus your effort. Without specific, time-bound goals, it’s easy to drift from month to month and keep putting off career development. To ensure you’re focused on goals that are truly career-building, do your homework and keep up with trends in the industry. If there’s a specialty that interests you and is growing, there could be an opportunity to become an expert in an area of demand.
2. Upgrade Your Skillset
Because IT changes so fast, it’s important to keep your skills current. Education and training is one way. For example, there are bootcamps in general skills such as Java and also in more specialized disciplines. These camps often have both live and remote options.
College is another route. Not only can you learn something new, but applicants with a degree have an edge. If your goal is management or a specialized field such as data science, a master’s degree may be necessary. Again, online education is an option if live attendance is impractical.
Informal education is also good. You might recruit several colleagues to meet regularly and discuss an emerging technology.
3. Create a Portfolio
IT is still a field where a demonstrated ability to do the work often trumps formal education. What better way to prove that ability than to show how you’ve done it. If there are multiple candidates for a job, one who can provide examples of their work will stand out.
4. Develop Your Network
You can’t get jobs that you don’t know about, and employers won’t reach out to you if they don’t know you exist. Maintain a diverse set of contacts both inside and outside of your current workplace. Tell these people of opportunities you know about. Maintain a profile on business sites such as LinkedIn. Take the opportunity to attend lunches and social gatherings.
You might learn not only about new job opportunities but also about chances to attend seminars or otherwise expose yourself to new technology.
5. Develop Your People Skills
Some people pride themselves on being “supertechies” who work alone and minimize contact with colleagues. However, everyone ultimately interfaces with people, even if they’re independent consultants working remotely.
Communication is at the top of the “soft skills” list. For those who find this uncomfortable, it’s worth taking the plunge by stepping up to lead a meeting, give a presentation or take charge in a volunteer group.
And a Bonus Suggestion
Go the extra mile. Do a little more than what’s assigned to you. Go out of the way to make a colleague’s job easier. This kind of effort stands out.