I've known many IT professionals, throughout the years, who have wondered what it takes to move up the corporate ladder. I've contemplated this question many times and compiled the following "top 5 list" for moving up in the IT world.
1. Dress for success
The best advice that I've ever been given is to dress for the job that you wish you had. If you want to work in the mail room, then by all means continue to wear the jeans and t-shirt. If you want to be CIO, start wearing clothes that resemble what you expect a CIO to wear.
Plan your clothes based on your audience. I once read a sales book that said something like “wear clothes that are one step up from those that you are trying sell to". To move up the Corporate ladder you basically attempting to sell your qualities as a package. To get ahead you need to separate yourself from others while not looking like you're brown nosing.
2. Improve your communication skills
Improving your communications skills will help you in all areas of life, but especially in IT. Developers are known for poor communication skills, yet these skills are a must for those looking to rise through the ranks. To improve your skills, read books on the subjects of writing and public speaking. Also, take the occasional class. Most importantly, re-read your emails and be professional at all times.
Take the leap and go for that MBA. This degree will greatly improve your communication skills and will most certainly propell you upward.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
Develop your planning skills by seeing how others go about creating action plans for similar goals. Look to anticipate questions that might come up in that Dev. meeting or conference call. Continually refine your processes and look for ways to improve.
Decide where you want to be in 1, 5, or 10 years and make a detailed plan for getting there. Find others who are already there and figure out what path they took to get there.
Working out several days a week will keep you fresh and will put you a head of most of the other IT people out there. Also, let's face it, appearance does count.
Include working out with a quality diet. A quality diet is 80% of the battle for loosing fat or gaining muscle and it plays a huge role in how quickly your mind works and continues to develop.
5. Become the expert
Finally, you have to become the expert in your field of choice. Some ways to do that are:
- Be quick to volunteer for projects (the more you have done, the more you will know)
- Read technical books on your desired subject area
- Gain a basic knowledge of other technologies that may not directly relate to your position at the moment.
- Keep an eye on new technology and be prepared to share your thoughts on that technology.
Start a blog about what you are learning.