The industry of technology is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. From security threats to software updates, there's always something new on the horizon. It is for exactly this reason that IT employees, regardless of area of specialization, must continue to evolve in order to remain high-value business assets.
How do you become indispensable to an employer?
1. Get into your employer's business – fast.
Spend some time getting to know more about the company you work for, their mission, their operations, their clients, and their vendors. Make sure you know short-term goals and longer-term strategic goals. If you work for a publicly traded company, read their annual reports and talk with management who are willing to share insights. In order to be fully effective in your job, you must have a broader understanding of the business, the corporate culture, as well as management philosophies, internal policies and procedures, departmental relationships, strengths and weaknesses, and often times basic unpublished and unsaid practices.
2. Make that strategic IT connection.
Now that you have gathered as much information as you could about your employer, business goals, and other pertinent information, analyze your role in technology and tie all of your job-related activities back to department level and company-wide objectives. This may even be an activity that will require support from your immediate supervisor. Not all of your information technology activities will be easy to tie back to high-level business objectives, but they should at least indirectly. Activities that serve no direct or indirect purpose in relation to business goals should be re-evaluated. Assessing your value in relation to company-wide IT initiatives helps you, your department, and your company determine the best fit for your skills and knowledge.
3. Get real about the good, bad and the ugly.
It's time to focus seriously on your own IT based strengths and weaknesses. This is the time to be completely honest with yourself about what you have to offer and what you really need to work on. Itemize your IT related strengths and prioritize them in order of highest-value skills and capabilities. What would an IT employer value the most? When it comes to your weaknesses, determine which is of greatest risk to them and your career. This internal assessment is better conducted by you now than by an employer later.
4. Work on being at least one step ahead.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned early on in my career was to anticipate and prepare for what my direct supervisor or her supervisor would expect from me before being asked. My supervisor at that time was a very kind, fair, yet highly demanding woman who always challenged me to think outside the basic business expectations. Each time before I walked into her office, I began to think about what I may have missed that she might ask me about later, striving to remain one step ahead whenever possible. This eventually became the natural critical thinking and analysis process in all of my roles throughout my career. When doing your job, don't just do your job - challenge yourself to anticipate next steps and constantly improve. Perfection is not the goal; ongoing improvements in service levels should be.
5. S-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself to remain flexible and adaptable.
Technology waits for no one. As an IT employee, you need to keep up with important technological advances that impact how well you do your job. This is not to say you need to keep up with everything, but focus on core technologies that enable efficiencies and workflows. Try to remember technology has the ability to lighten your workload and free up time for more value-added, higher-level responsibilities. Remain flexible to change, and use technology to help you enable and teach other people within the company.
6. Play nice in the sandbox… with everyone.
When communicating and interacting with peers, management, vendors and clients, strive to remain professional, pleasant, consistent, and fair. Regardless of the position a person holds, people are all just people who possess a basic need to be treated well. Try to remember, your professional title does not define you; how you treat others doesTake advantage of expertise from highly experienced IT recruiting firms like Modis who can help IT employees, contractors, and executives develop and refine high-level attributes.