Competition for IT roles is fierce right now, but don’t despair. These strategies will work to set you apart from the crowd, no matter how big the crowd is.
1: Spot the silver lining
So you’ve been stuck with a boring code-monkey job, or worse, a job that doesn't even use your technical skills. Look for the positive. What made someone think you’d be good in that role? Maybe you’re a great communicator or have a talent for organisation. Highlight that on your CV. Identify the standout skills that make you good at your lousy job, and start selling them to people who can give you a better one.
2: Know the business
Take the time to look through your employer’s quarterly and annual reports. They’ll give you insights on how to deliver value that the top brass will notice and thank you for (hopefully with a promotion).
3: Take a course in sales/marketing
If you’re like most IT professionals, you hate sales, and your personality is the opposite of a typical salesperson’s. That’s exactly why it’s worth taking a course. You need to be able to sell yourself and your skills. Most IT professionals won’t study how to do that; when you do, you’ll set yourself apart.
4: Brush up your communication skills
If you’re aiming for a leadership role in IT, start by acting like a leader on a smaller scale. Volunteer to lead a meeting or give a presentation. This may be uncomfortable, but it’ll help people start seeing you as a potential leader.
5: Volunteer for projects nobody wants
Step forward and take on failing projects. See if you can turn them around. Once people notice you doing this, you’ll be in line for promotion.
6: Find your Gandalf
There are many experienced and talented IT professionals out there who are happy to share their knowledge. Shadow one closely, and you’ll become a master of your craft much faster.
7: Stay up to date
Don’t just read the news on your own area of IT. Use periodicals, trade groups and courses to become an expert across the board.
The more people you get acquainted with in IT and the business, the more people will know what you have to offer. Individual performance excellence is always paramount, but so is exposure to those who can help you advance your career.
9: Make others feel like winners
Rather than taking all the credit for yourself, make projects feel like a team effort that boosts everyone’s self-worth. People love winning, so they’ll love the person who makes them feel like winners.
10: Add a little extra
Delight your customers by throwing in a little free extra feature or function with each piece of work you do. Word will spread, and you’ll be in demand.