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10 things to consider before leaving IT for the end business

If you’re hoping to climb the ladder on the business side of your organization, be sure to ask yourself these questions before saying goodbye to IT.

If you are employed in any enterprise where IT is not the end business, you will find IT is a support function. There’s nothing wrong with making an IT career in companies like this — unless you aspire to be the CEO. Companies almost always look for someone with experience in sales or in a line of business to fill that role. That’s why many IT’ers who have enterprise CEO aspirations decide to leave IT for a functional area that is considered strategic to the business.

But not so fast. Before you make the decision to leave IT, here are 10 things you should ask yourself:

1: Am I going to like being on the business side?

Once you make the transition from IT to a business area, your workload is going to change. There isn’t as much difference between IT and the end business if you are making a transfer into engineering. But if your new area is a product line for a heavy equipment manufacturer or sales or marketing for a retailer or card services for a bank, the difference will be huge. If possible, you should gain as much familiarity with your “target area” of the business as you can before you make the leap. Talk to others who are in that business area and learn everything you can about it. Most important, think about that area of the business and yourself. Can you see yourself there — and do you think you will be happy?

2: Am I going to be able to leave IT alone?

Often, the first thing a welcoming business area does with a new employee from IT is to put that person in charge of technology for the department. This can be a good thing, because it allows you (as a new business employee) to establish a worth and a credibility in your new department. However, it can also be detrimental if you 1) find yourself “stuck” in departmental IT so that you don’t get to learn the end business like you wanted to or 2) find yourself naturally gravitating to all the department’s IT projects because deep down, you really like IT better. You won’t meet your business career objectives if you step into any of these sand traps.

3: Do I have the business savvy?

The best business people have a natural savvy about how successful businesses work, and they don’t get sidetracked by the many incidental things that can come up during the day. They can also see the big picture of what the business must accomplish. By nature, IT folks are highly analytical and detail-oriented. Before making an IT-to-end-business move, assess yourself and your natural talents. Will you be able to focus on the business first — even if this runs counter to IT thinking?

4: Will moving to the end business hurt my career if I decide to rejoin IT?

Not necessarily. If you develop in-depth expertise on the business side, you can often find a path back into IT as a business analyst (always in short supply). However, if your IT skillset is highly technical in nature, you will find it more difficult to reenter IT the longer you stay away from it. The rule of thumb here is: If you make a move to the end business and decide to switch back to IT, do it as quickly as you can. This leaves less time for your skills to erode, and it usually is understandable to both the business and IT if a relatively new assignment just doesn’t work out.

5: Am I a “cyclical” or a “project-oriented” person?

I remember once walking to work with an accountant friend. She told me that one of the things she really liked about her job was that she knew exactly what she was going to be doing every day of the week. There are many people like this. They want an office life that is predictable. But if you’re in IT, life is anything but predictable! A system can crash or there might be an immediate need to provision a new server. IT professionals thrive on change and a constant stream of new projects. How do you like to work? This is a crucial question to ask yourself, because if you like the constant change of projects in IT, a more cyclical function (like accounting) — where you repeatedly do the same things daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly — might not be able to contain you.

6: Do I have the communications, political, and people skills?

One of the nice things about IT or engineering is that the people who work in these disciplines tend to be “thing” oriented, and less political. The downside of this is that IT folks often come up short in interpersonal and communications skills. These skills (as well as the politics) are important in most end business areas. If you don’t feel that you can do well in these areas, you might be best served to remain in a discipline like IT or engineering.

7: Can I think non-logically?

Areas like engineering and IT rely on logical and deductive thought processes to solve what in many cases are mathematical problems. But if you’re in a business area like sales or marketing, the emotional content of what people are saying and thinking becomes highly important. Intuition and creativity also count. This is in sharp contrast to the way IT thinks and works-so it is a good idea to assess how strong you are in the alternate forms of thinking before making a career change.

8: Can I handle open-ended situations?

IT’ers like clearly defined situations where something either works or it doesn’t. This is natural when the majority of your work life is in projects with tight deadlines that require rapid problem resolution. However, this mode of work can be different in other business areas, where decision-making can take longer and the work is more cyclical in nature and less project (and goal) oriented. Some IT’ers find this difficult to adjust to. You should ask yourself how well you do in a less defined and decision-oriented environment before deciding to make a change.

9: How committed am I really to a career in business?

Many IT’ers find that they really miss IT after they leave it. Unless you have an arrangement with your company that you are going over to a business area for a specific period of time (to enhance your business background) and that you will return to IT, you should be absolutely confident that a long-term career in business is what you really want.

10: Does the company really have an opportunity for me?

If your primary reason for switching to the business side of the enterprise is for long-term career advancement in the company, do all your due diligence up front before you make the move. Several years ago, a colleague of mine who was managing IT wanted to transition to the business side of the community bank he was working at because his ultimate goal was to be the bank’s CEO. He spent time in the bank’s branch system and ran the loan department. Today, he is the CEO — but he had a clear-cut goal in mind and had met with other bank officials to discuss the feasibility of this career path.

Credit to the guys and girls at TechRepublic for the original article.


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Salary Guide (from The IT Job Board)

Are you earning enough?

The average salary of IT professionals is always changing. If your skills are in demand you could be earning more. Take a look at this easy to read,
free salary guide from the folks at The IT Job Board and see if you could be getting paid more.

With the 2012 salary guide you’ll be able to see:

  • Average permanent IT salaries by skill
  • Average contract daily rates by skill
  • Average contract hourly rates by skill
  • Year on year increase or decrease

Check it out here – http://www.theitjobboard.co.uk/browse/salary-guide-2012/en/


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Agile Careers

If you’re a software developer looking for work then this news might be of interest to you. The Scrum Alliance have announced their partnership with Agile Careers; a careers website aimed at agile practitioners.

 

AgileCareers.com is the only careers website dedicated exclusively to the needs of the Agile community, offering job posting and resume services as well as an interactive community which broadcasts news articles and information relevant to Agile and Scrum practitioners.

This partnership provides Scrum Alliance members (i.e. certified Scrum practitioners) with valuable benefits:

  • Scrum Alliance members seeking new employees can post open positions on AgileCareers.com with the confidence they will be viewed by Agile and Scrum enthusiasts worldwide.
  • Scrum Alliance members seeking new Agile career opportunities have greater visibility into potential positions with companies who desire Agile and Scrum expertise. Visit AgileCareers.com to post your résumé.

To celebrate our new partnership, AgileCareers.com is offering free postings for a limited time. After that, Scrum Alliance members will enjoy ongoing discounts for all AgileCareers.com job posting services.

Check it out and let me know what you think?


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Why women won’t apply for IT jobs

Women won’t apply for IT jobs unless they are certain they meet every single criterion for the gig, according to John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation Trust Fund (ACSF).

Ridge and the ACSF run a national Work Integrated Learning scholarship scheme for IT workers in Australia and have, over the scheme’s ten years of operations, placed 3,850 workers in one-year gigs designed to bridge between the worlds of university and work. The scholarships are designed to make it cheaper and easier for employers to hire entry-level staff, while giving graduates the chance to learn practical skills in the workplace and, often, to upgrade their university-taught technical knowledge to modern skills real businesses actually use.

The scholarship scheme struggles to attract women, largely due to pitifully low enrolment rates in Australian universities. Ridge also mentioned horrifying drop-out rates for women in IT courses, citing research conducted by the University of Wollongong that he said found 72.9% of women are unhappy with the IT courses they pursue.

The few women that do pursue a career in IT, he said, are then reluctant to seek opportunities like ACSF scholarships because they feel it is important to meet every single criterion an employer desires. Men, by contrast, happily apply with only half the skills an employer lists as desirable.

“Industry wants women,” Ridge said. “But women talk themselves out of applying for jobs”.

Credit to Simon Sharwood and The Register for the original content.

Remember to keep an eye on the jobs page over at The Register, it’s a great resource;

http://www.theregister.co.uk/jobs/


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Unique Job Tracking Methods for Success

So you’ve found yourself back in the market of looking for a new job. In order to stay one step ahead of the game and ensure that you’re up to date with the progress of each and every application you make, it is vital that the most time efficient and functional tools be utilised to keep the headache out of job hunting. To be most successful it is recommended that a job application tracking system be implemented to careful monitor your progress throughout this process.

We’ve all experienced the flurry of activity involved in researching, selecting and applying for new jobs. The applications are sent out, we move onto the next job and then we sit and wait for the responses and invitations to interview to come in. Over time, it can become very easy to lose track of where we are with each individual application or even which position links to which company and the specific skills and achievements we’ve relayed to each of them about ourselves.

To avoid embarrassment, particularly when called on the telephone by potential employers, it is essential to have a system in place that allows you to clearly refer to your job application record and identify exactly where you are at any given stage. Some people like to organise themselves by using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, which is a useful, if not time-consuming tool that allows you to keep your recruitment history organised. However, this method takes a reasonable amount of motivation to set up and complete on an ongoing basis and is only as useful as your commitment to regular data entry.

Thankfully, with the advances in technology and the move towards integrated online systems there is now a new option available to optimize your job hunting potential all in one place. Imagine a system that lists hundreds of jobs from top recruiters across the country, updated daily and covering all industries. No longer do you need to trawl the many different websites of recruitment agencies and top employers to check out the latest job opportunities available. At YourJobList.com everything is provided on one website.

Not only does this save you time and energy in registering and making searches on the different websites but it also ensures that you never miss out on the latest new job posting. Add to this a built-in job tracking device that saves and manages your applications every step of the way and you are well on your way to recruitment tracking heaven. Each position you apply for, no matter through which agency, is logged onto your account, available for you to view at any time and check the progress of your application at any stage. It’s as simple as that.

YourJobList

With this user-friendly job application tracker system in place it becomes easy to set yourself simple goals to maximise your recruitment success. For example, you may decide that you want to apply for four jobs per week, or follow-up on every application two weeks after submission, or send a thank you letter two days after each interview you attend. This virtual tool simplifies the achievement of such goals and is more likely to make your employment dreams become a reality.

Can you afford to not give it a try? Give YourJobList.com a try today, it’s free!


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How CIOs are hiring and engaging with staff

Whether blogging about their area of expertise or tweeting about business best practice, more CIOs are choosing to express their views through collaborative technology.

More senior IT leaders are beginning to dabble in social media and are finding new ways to help the business. So, where will social CIOs go next? Do IT leaders use social media to attract potential employees and do they use collaborative tools to keep new workers engaged?

JJ Van Oosten is an experienced IT leader, and former board member and CIO at Tesco.com, who believes LinkedIn and Facebook are very useful tools for recruiting potential staff. He pays particular attention to LinkedIn, drawing on his experience at large firms which suggests employees across all ranks of the business are connected through LinkedIn.

“The inhouse recruitment team does need to understand and create an excellent LinkedIn presence,” he said, referring to the need for human resources to take a structured approach to sourcing via social media. “The best talent is global, mobile and well connected. LinkedIn should play an essential part of building a good brand as an employer.”

Van Oosten said he has less personal experience of Facebook being used in a recruitment context. However, he can think of ways the tool could help. “If I had to recruit some developers, or other new talent in marketing, I could imagine organising some cool, interactive and rich events,” he said, before also suggesting that social networking can provide a strong hook for acquiring new talent.

You can read the full article on techrepublic here;

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cio-insights/linkedin-twitter-facebook-how-cios-are-hiring-and-engaging-with-staff/39747318


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Make yourself indispensable: 10 tech skills you need to remain employable

This is a re-post from a silicon.com article that I read last year. Some of it is very obvious and some of it is probably debatable (virtualisation), but its worth a quick read. This article was aimed at CIOs, but I think its pretty relevant to anyone in the IT industry.

1. Virtualisation

2. Business Analysis

3. Social Media

4. Mobile Development

5. Project Management

6. Security

7. Data Management

8. Cloud Computing

9. Soft business skills

10. Keeping ahead of the game

You can find the full article here; http://www.silicon.com/management/cio-insights/2011/11/10/make-yourself-indispensable-10-tech-skills-you-need-to-remain-employable-39748183/