In almost every high-growth business market, technology professionals are in high demand, as businesses migrate to more complex operational needs to stay competitive in the global market. The technology sector is constantly evolving and innovating, and professionals employed in IT, security, software development or management roles must keep pace with the rapid changes, to remain competitively employable.
Tenure and good performance are not enough to guarantee advancement in today’s global economy; you have to be ready with a plan and prepared to make the extra effort to direct your career for growth. If you enjoy your current role and employer, you can create a strategy that increases your opportunity for advancement, by using these seven methods.
1. Get Personally Involved in The Goals and Success of Your Organization
When the CEO of your organization hosts a meeting to discuss the Q1 to Q4 goals of the organization, benchmarks and vision for the direction of the company, are you digging in to learn what you could do to be part of that success?
Technology professionals who successfully position themselves for corporate advancement, actively seek out information and ask questions about the direction and goals of the organization. When you understand where your employer would like to be, you can begin to think creatively about how your department can be a significant contributor to realizing those goals.
2. Look for Opportunities to Demonstrate Leadership and Talent
Has your management team asked your department to work together on a group project or SCRUM for new product or service ideas? Take the lead, if you want to get noticed. The rewards greatly outweigh the risks, and while you will have to contribute more effort than other members of the team, it is that drive and leadership that becomes something for consideration, when organizations look internally for professionals to develop into advanced roles.
Stay positive and manage the project like a professional. Don’t complain or allow the opportunity to be tarnished by disagreements or conflict within the team. Show your managers and directors what you can do, when given the opportunity to apply your talent and your cooperative interpersonal skills to produce a valuable deliverable for the organization.
Take on the work that no one wants and provide exceptional results. Trust us; they’ll be watching and taking notes.
3. Continual Learning in the Freelance Market
You have a full-time job that you love, and it’s a handful already. So why would you want to consider freelancing and offering your skills on the open market? Because it is one way to put yourself right in the middle of the most competitive market and test your skills while learning new ones.
One of the great benefits of freelancing part-time, is that you will learn what skills are being sought by start-up’s and medium sized organizations (who may not have their own in-house technology department). Learn what is driving innovative new businesses, the products and services they are looking for, and how they apply technology to lean start-up business models.
You may not want to risk working full-time for a tech start-up but contracting a few hours per week can provide a lot of great experience to augment your portfolio and help expose you to other organizational cultures (which is valuable learning).
4. Stay Industry-Active on LinkedIn
Want to keep ahead of the constant changes in the IT industry? Use LinkedIn for more than just your work history and profile. Research and connect with groups on LinkedIn that are specific to your field or area of expertise.
There are many benefits to joining (and being active) in strategically selected LinkedIn Groups. First, it’s an excellent networking opportunity where you can refer (or be referred) to both contract and full-time opportunities. Second, you’ll get articles and conversations about technology that help keep you informed about innovations, changes and demand niches, to help you keep on top of your continual learning and accreditations that will keep your skills at a competitive level.
Another great reason to stay active in technology focused LinkedIn Groups, is to learn about events that can help expand your knowledge, and introduce you to new colleagues, corporations and recruiters. From hackathon’s to conferences, webinars and other learning opportunities, your LinkedIn Groups will keep you in the loop with what is going on (and worth exploring or participating in).
5. Develop Key Soft Skills
If your career goal is to advance to a managerial or director position, start working now on your most important soft skill; communication. While technology talents are comfortable tackling projects that require analytical software solutions, IT professionals can inadvertently become siloed in the workplace.
Historically the IT department was a quiet place within any organization, without much fraternization or collaboration with other departments. But advancing within a corporate environment requires more than just creative web development and code writing skills; it requires a demonstration that you are able to work seamlessly with other teams, including sales and marketing.
Broaden your social and volunteer focus, to indoctrinate yourself to other key department areas and develop positive relationships with colleagues in other scopes and responsibilities. Not only will it help you network within your own organization, but it will broaden your experience about workflows on other teams, which can help you innovate new ideas.
6. Seek Out Mentors
Finding a mentor within your organization is idea, but sometimes difficult to achieve, without appearing almost ‘too eager’ for advancement. But mentors are critical to helping you evaluate your career trajectory and learning from professionals who ‘worked their way up’ is a valuable opportunity to apply the same successful strategies to your own career.
LinkedIn has a new service that allows professionals to seek out free career advice, from global professionals within their industry. Learn more about LinkedIn Career Advice and register as someone who would like to be mentored in the technology sector. There is no cost involved, and the career insights you will gain (and networking) will help you direct yourself to high-growth behaviors and opportunities.
7. Share the Credit for Successful Projects
The most successful executives are habitual about sharing the credit for a job well done. They speak in terms of ‘team’ and ‘we’, rather than ‘I’ when reviewing the results of a difficult or challenging project.
If you are a high performing technology professional, naturally you want your contribution to be recognized. But if you are constantly projecting your own victories, you may be creating resentment and damage to a corporate culture that favors a team-oriented approach. Make an effort to recognize other colleagues for their innovation, and productivity (without sounding disingenuous). Shine the spotlight of recognition on your team for achieving results, and you’ll find your colleagues reciprocate in kind, and provide more acknowledgement for your contributions as well.
A recent study by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) revealed that employment in the technology sector outpaced the 2017 economy six to one. From healthcare to research and development, IT security, finance and manufacturing, the demand for skilled technology workers will only increase over time, leaving plenty of room for advancement in the future.
Look for opportunities to expand your knowledge base, become more actively involved at all levels within the organization, volunteer, seek mentorship for strategic planning, and build your advancement strategy toward a rewarding executive role in the future.