Career Tips For IT Pros In A Rotten Economy - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
Commentary
11/18/2008
02:13 PM
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Career Tips For IT Pros In A Rotten Economy

The economy has everyone on edge. But during these uncertain times, there are a few maneuvers tech professionals can make to help survive -- and maybe even thrive -- during the downturn.

The economy has everyone on edge. But during these uncertain times, there are a few maneuvers tech professionals can make to help survive -- and maybe even thrive -- during the downturn."When IT is in the crosshairs, the tendency is for people to freeze up and hide out," says Michael Kirven, co-founder and principal of IT staffing and consulting firm Bluewolf. But that duck-for-cover instinct isn't the best tactic for advancing your career -- or just keeping your job -- during hard times, Kirven said during an interview with InformationWeek.

That brings us to the first tip.

• "Don't hide in your cube. Be proactive," he says

That includes seeking cross-training in other technologies and skills. For instance, Oracle DBAs could try getting certified in SQL. If your company doesn't have the budget to send you to classes, volunteer to shadow a colleague who's already working with the technology. If that doesn't work, there are free or affordable online certification programs to check out in your own spare time, he says.

• Wear your thinking-cap around the office.

"Come up with a great idea to help your company's sales team generate new sales," says Kirven. One of Bluewolf's own internal IT staffers recently did just that. A new sales-generation tool that a Bluewolf developer created in his free time has been rolled out to the company's offices across the United States, he says. That developer "wasn't even involved with sales," he says. "Now the whole sales organization knows this guy by name."

Of course, not all ideas will be hits, but the key is to "step up for the organization," he says. "Nine out of 10 ideas stink, but I'd rather get bad ideas than no ideas," he says.

• Break out of the IT cocoon.

This one is related to the first tip about getting out of your cube. But it takes things a bit further. It means venturing away from your techie comfort zone a bit more.

Mingle with people from other business groups within your company, Kirven suggests. Get to know what business initiatives are under way -- and consider whether you've got some expertise, value to offer.

Here's one final bit of advice:

• Don't be a Debbie Downer.

"No one wants to be around negative people," says Kirven. "Don't plop down in the chair and complain," he says. "Come up with solutions."

Of course, these suggestions also are useful during better economic times, but they're even more important when you're hoping to survive a downturn. Exercising some of these tips means resisting the impulse to fly under the radar when there's a threat, says Kirven.

The goal is to shine, not disappear into the landscape of your organization, he says.

Got any career tips of your own? Share them here.

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