IT survivor: 7 tips for career growth in tight times
- 02 December, 2008 09:26
IT survivor tip No. 6: Schmooze it -- or lose it
Everyone hates a suck-up. And yet the world is full of them, so they must be doing something right. The people who are retained in a downturn aren't always the most competent, notes Lore. They're often the ones who are the best liked and know the right people.
"You've got to network inside your own company," says Lore. "Make sure the senior people know who you are, the contributions you've made, and that they like you. Create a wider circle, so other people start talking about you. Very often, techs are shy about being forward with senior people in the company. This is not the time to be shy."
Although the cliché is that geeks are notoriously bad at social interaction, these are skills that can be easily learned, says Lore. In fact, he adds, they're the same skills found in books that teach nerds how to pick up girls -- mimic your boss's body language, speak in the same tones, talk about the things they're interested in, and so on.
Joining user groups and professional associations will expand your network, exposing you to new skills and potential employers, notes Buik. Donating your tech skills to worthy organizations can also raise your profile.
"IT experts who volunteer their time to upgrade the network for a nonprofit tend to gain positive press and build name recognition in their locality," says Ari Kaplan, author of "The Opportunity Maker," a book on creative networking and business development.
Online networks such as LinkedIn can help, too. "Don't just put a little bit of information in there," says Buik. "Sell yourself. Tell everyone within three feet of you what you're trying to do. If you're looking for new opportunities, let everyone know."
Just be sure to use social nets wisely. Building up your résumé on LinkedIn is a good idea; sending your zombie to attack your boss' zombie on Facebook is probably sending the wrong message about how you spend your time at work.
IT survivor tip No. 7: If all else fails, move to Australia
Now is not a good time to be job shopping. Even if there's a photo of your boss next to the Wikipedia entry for "jerk," it's generally better to grit your teeth and stick it out until the economy recovers. But if the worst happens and you get downsized, you still have options -- like relocating to Australia, for instance.
"A raft of big projects is keeping the local IT market relatively buoyant, and demand for skills remains solid," notes Peter Acheson, COO of Australia's largest IT recruiter, Peoplebank. "There will still be strong demand for IT skills in the market here in 2009 -- in fact, in some sectors it will still be tight."
Another option is to join the temp-to-perm workforce, says Tom Hart, executive vice president at staffing firm Veritude. Staff augmentation services offer both businesses and employees more flexibility, he says.
"There are so many good reasons to be flexible, even if all you've ever done is hold down permanent jobs," Hart says. "It gives you the opportunity to feel good about a potential employer, and for them to feel good about you. And you continue to collect a paycheck as you wait for things to get better."
It could even be time to consider going back to school or changing careers, says Lore, especially if technology isn't exactly your life's calling.
"Many people went into IT because they had strong analytical skills, not because they enjoyed the work," Lore says. "For them, a career change might be the best solution. Just because you have long legs doesn't mean you'll be happy as a Rockette."
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
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