On of my readers needs help with putting together his career advancement plan. I posted the information I provided to him below. If you have any question about this or about your career, post it as comment at the end of the post and I would answer it for you.
Set a SMART Goal
Begin by creating a comprehensive end to end career roadmap or plan.
Your career roadmap needs to include a SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goal) That means that you need to define an end objective (for example, mastering business analysis or learning computer programming or improving your software testing skills) and a timeline for achieving it.
Follow a Strategy
Then you need to have a strategy for achieving your career goals. Your strategy is the “how to achieve your goal” part. So without a good strategy, you are not going to achieve your goal, no matter how hard you try at doing so.
Your core career strategy needs to include: “gaining the requisite knowledge, skills and experience” needed to advance in your career as well as soft skills like “technical presentation / interviewing skills”.
Execute your Strategy
You need to define the specific tactics that would allow you to achieve your strategy. Your tactics is more like a day to day plan that you would carry out that aligns with your strategy. Your tactics is the execution part of the plan and if you don’t execute your strategy well, all the goal setting and strategizing in the world won’t help you.
How to Follow Through On Your Career Strategy
How do you ensure that on a daily or weekly basis, that you will get the knowledge, skills and experience required to succeed in your career?
To ensure that you succeed in your career, you need to define:
How you will gain the requisite knowledge
How you will gain mastery and turn your knowledge into skills
How to gain hands on, real-world, experience. Note that without experience, you won’t get be able to transition to new roles or get hired or get promoted
Here is some more information on how to gain more knowledge, skills and experience … which is required for IT career success:
How To Improve Your Knowledge:
Would you use books, free website content, onsite technical training, online training, coaching or mentoring services, newsletters, etc. You need to come up with what works best for you based on your work, family and budget
How to Turn your Knowldege into skills:
Note that knowledge and skills are not the same. Knowledge is theoretical and skill is practical. You must turn theoretical knowledge, education, certifications, etc into practical skills to succeed in your tech career
How To Gain Hands On Experience:
The most valuable asset in your career is your hands on, real-world, experience. IT careers unlike careers in law, medicine and some other professional disciplines put more emphasis on experience than accrediattion.
So, before you do anything, you need to make sure you have defined the specific steps you will take to get your hands on experience. Also, not every experience is equal. Employers give more weight to experience gained in some specific ways compared to experience gained in other ways.
TO CERTIFY OR NOT?
This is a hot topic. Tech workers are worrying if their certifications, degrees, education, would hold up in the current economic climate.
There seems to be two schools of thought. One school asserts that certifications and educational degrees are everything. The other school asserts that certified tech workers may not necessarily have the experience to back it up and that certifications don’t matter anyway.
There may be a better way to answer this question. Instead of worrying about your certifications, educational qualifications, etc. focus on a developing complete, end to end career plan. In a complete career plan you may get additional certifications and educational qualifications as long as you do not neglect the core essentials needed for information technology career success: knowledge, skills and experience.
So, I want to know hear from you. Was this post helpful? Do certifications, degrees and educational qualifications matter? Does knowldege, skill or experience matter? If you have a question or concern I can address, post it as a comment at the end of this post and I will answer it for you.