How to take control of your IT career professional development

June 12, 2013

For many professionals, getting a foot in the door and landing IT jobs is the easy part. What’s more difficult is the long process of developing one’s career, starting from entry level and working one’s way up to the top.

If you’re in this position, the challenge can at times seem overwhelming, and at times it looks far beyond your control. Your job performance is part of it, but other factors – movement above you on the food chain, the whims of your bosses, dumb luck – play major roles.

Sometimes working to advance your career might seem like a lost cause, but still, you should never stop trying. Here are a few tips on taking control of your own career.

Have a plan and monitor your progress
All those clichéd questions you hear in job interviews, like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” They might actually be useful for gauging your career progression. Think about how quickly you’d like to move up – in status, in authority, in salary. If you’re not meeting your goals, then be more proactive by asking for a promotion or applying for a new job.

Be self-aware
In order to advance your career, you must be keenly aware of your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a skilled programmer, then push for more coding responsibilities in your position so you can showcase your skills. If you’re not great with people, then don’t work toward a position that entails more customer service. Find niche roles that play to your strengths.

Gain new skills
If you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut professionally, it couldn’t hurt to gain new skills. It will boost your self esteem and help you qualify for a wider range of future positions. Information Week explains that in the IT sector, you can add such abilities as big data analytics, mobile device management, security and product marketing, just to name a few.

Be a risk-taker
Business 2 Community says you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Ask the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” It’s OK to ask for a promotion or raise even if you’re not confident that you’ll get it. Even if your request is denied, nothing bad will likely come of it, and at least you’ve proven that you care enough about your career to take initiative.

Indeed, initiative is the name of the game in IT jobs. Advancement is hard to come by in the professional world, but good things come to those who take matters into their own hands.