May 26, 2013

Career 101 – Career Tips for IT Professionals

I have mostly been on the "hiring" side of the table. Based on that experience, I am listing down few career tips – mostly around soft skills. Again, the tips are directed towards professionals in IT industry, but it should be applicable in every industry with some modifications. I am happy to hear (or read) your perspective and learn from the same.

1) Pace out your career!

There is no rush. You do not need to achieve the pinnacle of your career by the age of 30. It is not important to simply scale the peak. The journey is more important than the destination. It is equally important to stay put or at least climb down gracefully when your capabilities are not in line with the ever changing and growing demand of your professional career.

It is okay to push yourself and improve your capacity and capability in a sustainable way. But do not be reckless.

2) What is your ROI?

Think over it. Calculate it. Ensure that you calculate it before your boss does. Are you able to deliver what is expected at your level? You can only grow if your value proposition is high, distinct and visible. Set clear and high goals and milestones. Make sure that you only work with a company that has alignment with your personal goals. Align your goals with your organization's. Take help from your management team to do so. Without clear ROI, you can never have a satisfying and rewarding career.

3)  Stay well oiled

If your job is to carry heavy machinery on your shoulder, make sure that you exercise and keep your body in top shape. If your job is to write software code, ensure that you exercise your brain. You can do so by learning new technologies (with self initiative), having intellectual discussions around your subject to add to your knowledge. Observe how people make decisions, ask questions, understand the decision making processes – this will make you sharper and valuable.

4) Love your work

Do not take up a profession that you do not LOVE. If you do not love unearthing accounting frauds, do not get into Audit as a profession. If you do not like writing software, do not get into a programming job. It will be an ordeal – for you and your employer. If you are doing so – change it today. It is said "Do what you love, and you will never have to work ever".

5) Work for excellence

You must be proud of your work. Not for the sake of it, but because you are confident that your work is best in its class. It needs a lot of passion, hard work and self criticism to achieve this. To be excellent, you need to have laser sharp focus – to learn, to observe and to absorb from your peers and ones who have excelled.

6) Love your company

Yeah, I know – its being idealistic. But, honestly if you do not respect your organization, you should not belong there. It is important to have a feeling of ownership, a sense of mission and a state of belongingness to be able to achieve and deliver. Every organization (and people) will have their strength and weakness. We need to understand, adjust and improve them ,if we can. Criticizing them wont help anyone. If the weaknesses far out-weights the strengths, and you cannot love your organization, its time to move on. But, as long you are associated, there has to be 100% commitment.

7) Surround yourself with good people

In every organization you will find different kind of people. It depends upon you, whom you choose to spend your time. Spending time with the right people will help you acquire the desired skills (soft and hard) that you need to achieve your goals. Indulge in healthy debates and discussions.

Avoid smalltalk and gossips. Remain positive. Have your own perspective that you must derive from your own logical thinking instead of simply adopting conclusions from people around you. Share your opinion and thoughts – not only with your colleagues, but also with your seniors and take feedback. Keep your mind open. Every coin / thought has two (or more) aspects.

8) Create value for clients

You work for a company, but your salary bills are paid by the clients that the company has. Think about them. Benefit them with your skills. I call it top-down value creation. If the client benefits, your company benefits. If your company benefits, you have better ROI (see point #2). And if you have clear ROI, you move up the chain.

9) Let go the ego

The higher you need to rise, you need to shed the weight of your ego. Some learn it the difficult way, and some adopts humility as the way of life. The higher you move, the more you need to get things done from your team members AND the more you need to align up with clients. If you want to take them along, you need to respect their ego more than yours.

10) Ethics – the real #1

My definition of morals and ethics is: Do to others as you would have them do to you.(Luke 6:31).  I have seen many people justify their acts as "ethical" and "legal" because that benefit them. But the best way to judge that is – will you like your friend to do it to you? or will you like your employee do it to you? This is the real #1 tip!

Remember: The journey is more important than the destination.

I am sure you all know of 100 more tips and feel free to add to this list..

 

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