Most of my blogs lately have updated you on new courses we have in the works. So today, I figured I would change things up and start this blog with a story: Nearly 20 years ago, when I was still in my rookie year in my Information Technology career, I was sent on a business trip far, far away from my home base (well, not that far, but a plane and a time zone change was involved so, far enough).
I was there to do some software installations and software support, as was my role in this company. When I arrived, I was handed my to-do list for the day. The first half of the list looked fine. The second half of the list was all Windows Server tasks. One problem: I barely knew Windows Server existed much less have the ability to actually do anything with it. And being several hundred miles from home, I couldn’t just say “not my thing” and walk away. And they did not have an IT person on staff.
So what was I to do? Back then, I couldn’t just whip out my smartphone or tablet and start looking for how-tos or solutions online. And I knew that making a wrong move on Windows Server could take down the server. So I did not want to make any mistakes there.
That very day was the day I discovered a very important word in the IT business: Resourcefulness! I immediately thought “what resources do I HAVE”, not “what do I not have”. My resource: the lead network and server administrator back at the home office. I called him up, explained the situation, and after he laughed about sending a rookie to do a non-rookie’s job, he spent, off and on, two hours on the phone with me, walking me through, step-by-step, what to watch for and what to do. As a result, I got through almost every item on that list that day before I had to catch my plane home.
Continuing this, over my first year at this company, I made it a point to never say “I can’t do this.” I always tried to be as resourceful as I could be to tackle user problems and new challenges. This got me a new position and a substantial raise just one year into the job.
Now, what I have shared with you is just one of many examples where I have had to stop, think about how I could be resourceful when trying to solve a problem, and then use whatever resources I have. 18 years ago, it was a phone. Now, it’s a smartphone or tablet and a lot of searching and testing (and, yes, the occasional human contact, too).
No matter how new or not-so-new you are as an IT professional, every situation where you don’t know the solution right away gives you two choices: To be resourceful, or not to be resourceful. Are you the one who is willing to find a solution (and of course, verify before implementing it if you can), or, the one who says “no can do” or worse, you try something and make the problem worse?
There is no reason to not be resourceful nowadays. You have search engines, tutorials on YouTube, LearnKey courses, white papers, forums, and a whole host of other avenues to use. And, one of the best ways to be resourceful is to befriend those who are experienced in your field of work. Figure out who is willing to share knowledge and make those people your best “work” friends.
If there is one thing I can say from experience and observation in my almost-20 years of being in the IT industry, it’s this: Those who demonstrate resourcefulness move up the ladder from position to position and salary scale to salary scale. Those who aren’t either stay where they are, or they find themselves looking elsewhere for work.
So, no matter where you are in your IT career, remember the “R” word: Resourcefulness!
Do you ever feel trapped in a dead-end job or feel like you’ve reached the height of your career? I’m sure most of us have felt that way at some point in our lives. Most of us want to advance in our careers, but we don’t always know where to start.
A couple of years ago, I worked on a course which required extensive research on how to succeed at work. While I’m sure there are many things we could add to the list, all of my research seemed to boil down to six simple steps that anyone can follow to advance in their career.
While it can be fun and exciting to be spontaneous, it is rarely appreciated in most workplaces. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun at work, but inconsistency can quickly kill your career. Simple things like following a set schedule, arriving on time for your job, and maintaining a high quality of work can put you on the fast track for a promotion. There are few things more frustrating for a manager than not knowing when employees will show up or what the quality of their work will be like when they do.
No matter how enjoyable your job is, performing the same tasks day after day can get repetitive and make you feel like you’re in a slump. Sometimes the fix for this can be as simple as developing a better way to complete a task. If that’s not an option, you may choose to volunteer for new assignments or use your downtime to work on new projects.
Another way to challenge yourself is to learn new skills. Many employees have access to training programs through their companies, and for those who don’t there are many online options, such as LearnKey’s self-paced training courses. The more knowledge and skills you can acquire, the more valuable you can make yourself to your company.
You may not always agree with everything, but supporting your manager’s decisions can go a long way toward advancing your career. Your manager may not always do things the way you would do them, but that doesn’t mean their method is wrong. Don’t undermine your manager’s authority by airing your grievances publicly. Carefully determine which battles are truly worth fighting and talk to your manager privately if you have a legitimate concern.
Admit Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. John Wooden once said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.” When you make a mistake, you have two choices: try to blame your mistake on someone else, or admit your mistake and work to correct it. In all areas of life, those who freely admit to their mistakes and work to correct them gain more respect than those who are constantly trying to push their mistakes onto others.
Stand Up for Yourself
You are an important asset to the company, and sometimes you need to remind your manager of that. Find ways to subtly market yourself, like offering to help on a project for which you have a private talent. Make a list of contributions you have made within the company and use those when asking for a raise or promotion. And don’t be afraid to ask. If you feel you are unlikely to get what you want, start with something bigger and negotiate down. If your manager has concerns about your work or qualifications, ask for feedback on how you can improve.
Find a Mentor
Sometimes all you need to get ahead is someone to show you how it’s done. Find someone you look up to and observe their work habits and methods. You can even formalize the relationship by asking the person to mentor you. Many companies have structured mentoring programs where you can set guidelines and define your goals and expectations. In the absence of a formal mentoring program, mentoring can happen as a natural outgrowth of mutual respect.
I hope you find these six tips useful and good luck in your career advancement!