Five Things to do Today to Advance Your Career in IT

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You’ve been working in IT for some time and you’re eager to move up. You’ve laid out a long-term plan for advancement and have been following it religiously. But somehow, promotions have passed you by. Time for some short-term action items—things you can do today that will get your career rolling. Actions that will get you called into the boss’s office to “discuss your career.” 

Item 1. Sign up for a Class

Talk to you boss today about signing up for a class in an area you think would improve your knowledge, skill or productivity. Sell the idea to your boss in just those words—how what you’ll learn will directly improve the group or division’s bottom line. Choose a class that will add to your roster of technical certifications. Stress that you’ll be taking the class during off-work hours. You don’t want to come across as someone who just wants to get out of the office to avoid work.

Item 2. Find a Mentor

Every organization has one or two people who love to give advice. You’ve probably encountered them and never thought twice about asking them to mentor you. Carpe diem. Make the call or send an email and ask. Let your boss know that you’re looking for a mentor. Schedule a sit down with your potential mentor at lunch or after work at the local watering hole. Buy them a drink and start them talking. You’d be surprised at the reservoir of knowledge they can impart.

Item 3. Accept a High Visibility Assignment

March into your boss’s office and ask for a high visibility assignment. Make sure you’re relatively caught up with your current workload before you do. Tell him or her you’re ready to take on more responsibility. Suggest some assignments you’d like to take on—and back it up with your skillset, certifications and past successes. All your boss can do is say no. If the answer is no, you’ll at least have put the bug in your boss’s ear that you’re ready for more challenging assignments. When something does come up, your boss won’t have to wonder if you’d like to take it on.

Item 4. Volunteer for Your Boss’s Pet Charity

Most bosses have a pet charity they’re engaged in and habitually haranguing their staff about. You probably ignored these pleas in the past, being either too busy or disinterested to get involved. Do a turnaround and get involved—but do so visibly. Make sure the boss knows what you’ll be doing—donating your time during off-work hours is best, especially when the boss will be there. Don’t just donate money. The goal is to spend some off-time hours with your boss in a non-work setting to talk about the charity and gently steer the conversation into your career. This will take some subtle maneuvering. Don’t bring this up the first day you volunteer, and don’t spend a lot of time on your career talk, either. It should be just in passing.

Item 5. Get Noticed at Today’s Meeting

Whether it’s a morning meeting, a lunch get together or an EOD meeting, make your presence known. Sit in front. Get into the conversation. Make suggestions. Bring along a paper or report you’ve put together. Use it to introduce a way to improve the workflow, efficiency, or maybe just a news item that will impact your department. The point is, you want to increase your visibility and showcase your knowledge. Just be careful not to be too chatty. Keep it short and relevant.

Want to advance your career in IT? Try these short-term action items today to get your career moving forward. 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/



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