If you want to move up through the ranks in your technology career, talent and hard work are the bare necessities. But they aren’t enough to make you stand out.
Expanding your skills, actively promoting your accomplishments and using promotion strategies will help get you on the short list and into the “yes” pile.
1. Sharpen your skills
of employers take certifications into consideration when deciding between two equally qualified applicants. Commit to acquiring at least one new certificate every year if possible.
Know (and learn) what's hot
put end-to-end business technologies at the top of their list of emerging technology trends. Add the internet of things (IoT) and current solutions like the cloud, mobile, and data analytics and you should have enough long-term knowledge on your plate to last you the next few years.
Love what you do
You are going to spend 8-10 hours a day at your job, plus extra hours acquiring more knowledge. Make sure the direction you have chosen is one that fills you up at least as much as it drains you out.
Try new things
It’s important to know how to do one thing really well, but don’t stop there! Experiment with solutions outside your comfort zone until you develop enough general knowledge to be useful or provide cross-over support.
Follow the 80-20 rule
You have a job description and 80% of your time should be spent doing that job. Use the other 20% to expand your reach into other projects or for exploring solutions to current challenges within your organization.
Become a communication master
The higher you move up the ladder, the more imperative it is that you can communicate with others well- in print and in person. You need to be able to communicate with your internal team as well as present ideas outside of your department, and even outside of your company.
Practice management skills
No matter how talented you are, you can’t move into a management position if haven’t demonstrated the ability to manage people. Take initiative and increased responsibility in projects, be trustworthy and a supportive leader.
2. Set yourself up for success
Your goal should be to get at the top of people’s minds when a technology issue comes up. This means being knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. People at the bottom of the list may be extremely smart, but they won’t get promoted because people. have reservations about working with them.
Interact outside your department
Getting to know people outside your department is just good business. It gives people a chance to get to know you when you
aren’t in the middle of a tech emergency, and it gives you an opportunity to learn about common issues that people in other roles are trying to tackle—issues you may be able to help resolve. Read how to improve communication with non-IT departments
Act the part
The old-fashioned adage about dressing for success and being on time exist for a reason. You don’t necessarily have to suit up, but dress and act in a way that shows you take your job seriously. Don’t dress for your job, dress for the job you want to have.
Don't be invisible
If you want to be considered for a promotion, you can’t be invisible. Being a team player means being a part of team activities outside the scope of work—like team building activities, corporate sponsored sporting events, social gatherings, etc. You might find yourself in a great conversation with the CIO.
Document your achievements
If you resolved a big issue, went above and beyond, or devised a creative solution for an ongoing problem, make a note of it! When the time comes for a performance review or quarterly update, bring this list to highlight your accomplishments.
Manage you reputation
Establishing a reputation within the greater technology industry is important. Being able to point to a well-trafficked personal blog, authored articles on LinkedIn or successful solutions you provided on forums will show the higher-ups that you are a respected expert outside of work.
Check in with your managers
You might think you are a great employee, but there may be room for improvement. Be open to criticism and always look for ways to improve yourself. Ask your department manager if there is anything in your performance that would stand in the way of a promotion, and if there are any pet projects you can spend a little of your extra time on.
Be a businessperson
3. Create a growth strategy
If you want to move up, you are going to be moving closer to the business side. If you have enough knowledge about your company’s business landscape, you can implement solutions that are sensitive to the business’ client-facing operations
(you know, the ones that make money).
Ask before you speak
Before you propose a “better” solution or wonder aloud why things are done backwards, kindly ask why things are the way they are. You may find out it was your department manager (and the one recommending you for your next promotion) who built the backwards platform to begin with.
Remove the I from team
Are you the one on the team that jumps in to do it themselves if they want it done correctly? If so, how do you expect the company to replace you? You are too valuable right where you are. Make yourself replaceable by fostering a team that can tackle the issues with your direction, not your hands-on intervention.
Find a mentor
Develop a relationship with a higher-up in your department that has a vested interest in your success and can direct you, advise you and recommend you when the time comes.
Know the impact of your job
In order to do your job well, you need to know why your job exists and why it matters to your organization specifically. If you are a front-end developer, you aren’t just coding to specifications, you make it possible for customers to sign up, and learn about your company. Your work directly impacts sales and marketing on the other side of the building. Having that kind of overview means you are more likely to propose solutions that don’t just resolve problems, but prevent them and add value to the business.
You can’t be promoted if there isn’t an open position or money in the budget. Have an open conversation with your manager to find out how the company is doing and whether the position you are after will be available in the near future.
Now that you know the secrets to a successful career in technology, remember to use the knowledge wisely. Don’t get dragged into office politics, stay humble and keep solving problems with a smile. Experts Exchange can be there every step of the way, from building your reputation, to picking up freelance gigs, to finding your dream job - we’re here to help.