IT professionals tend to get caught up in their job titles. Why? I'm not sure. IT director and enterprise desktop administrator are nice titles, but does anyone really care? We often focus more energy on what’s on our business cards and email signatures but forget why we were hired in the first place -- to add value to our organization’s bottom line. How do you stand out above everyone else in IT?
Here are 12 things you can do to become a more valuable IT professional:
1. Get more involved in the business. Attend meetings and just sit, listen and observe. Look at the bigger picture and determine the areas where you can put your IT skills to use beyond your immediate responsibilities.
2. Understand what’s expected of you. Are you on the same page as management? Are you focusing on the right aspects of your job? You’ll never know unless you ask.
3. Think about how you can work more efficiently. Doing so will help you address the IT issues that are both urgent and important.
4. Continually ask yourself: Is what I'm doing right now the best use of my time?
5. Focus on striking a happy medium among your technical, business and personal skills. Technology is not all about bits and bytes. Take classes and attend seminars. They will help you become a more well-rounded IT professional.
6. Keep all the right people in the loop. Demonstrate how your time and effort are paying off. Fortune Magazine did a study that found that the closer you are to the revenue stream of your organization, the less likely you are to be laid off. If you can tie what you do in IT into how the business generates income, you’ll be more valuable.
7. Don’t just tell people what they want to hear. If there is a problem or if you need help, ask for assistance.
8. Make the conscious decision to go beyond what’s expected of you. Going through the motions and putting in your 40 hours a week to earn a paycheck is a surefire way to stay where you are. You will not improve yourself or your career by doing so.
9. Become and remain visible in your organization. Step outside of your server room and interact with co-workers, especially those in management positions.
10. Set goals for yourself, and share them with your manager and team members. Hold yourself accountable for those goals. Set high standards for yourself, and give every project your very best.
11. Network both inside your organization and around the IT industry. Remember, it’s about who you know and who knows you. Be the go-to person that co-workers count on. Create a reputation for yourself and make it a good one!
12. Never forget that perception is everything. How you and your contributions are perceived is everything. Think about how co-workers would describe you when you’re not around. Are you an important contributor or just another warm body in IT?
About the author
Kevin Beaver is an information security consultant, expert witness and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. With over 22 years of experience in the industry, Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments revolving around information risk management. He has authored/co-authored eight books on information security including The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance and the newly-updated Hacking For Dummies, 3rd edition. In addition, he’s the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at www.principlelogic.com and you can follow in on Twitter at @kevinbeaver.
This was first published in March 2011