The IT job market is at a critical inflection point in that it’s been one of the most challenging and eventful years on record. IT professionals are in demand like never before with cybersecurity attacks on the rise and the need for more vigilance.
In 2022, we have also seen mass layoffs of IT staff at some companies. There's also pressure to get the most out of existing IT staff while there's an urgent need for them to receive more education and training. Despite current market conditions, the fact is IT departments of companies big and small still need to make every effort to retain and selectively hire new employees.
As the sector continues to evolve, so are the traits that hiring managers, departments, and teams look for to make IT professionals stand out and place them on the fast track to success and career longevity.
What are the traits that make a good IT pro stand out? Here are five:
1. Security knowledge
It goes without saying that IT professionals, first and foremost, must possess deep technical experience and security knowledge to do their jobs effectively. This knowledge comes through having an IT degree, interning in an IT department, or racking up a few years of entry-level experience in different IT areas. Staying on top of industry trends is another way pros enhance their industry knowledge. They need to be self-motivated and proactive about skills enrichment.
2. Excellent customer service skills
While IT professionals may spend countless hours working behind a desk, monitoring the cybersecurity landscape, and addressing IT concerns, having good people skills is indispensable. They need to be collegial, have the ability to work together in a supportive manner, learn from each other, and teach.
Having good people skills goes hand in hand with IT professionals possessing another important must-have skill – excellent customer service skills. Working as an IT professional involves interacting with customers, employees across the organization, management, vendors, and more. They must have the ability to adapt and provide all their core constituencies' attention and solutions, regardless of whether they are in a hybrid or physical working environment.
The bottom line is you can be the greatest IT expert in the world, but if you can’t cogently communicate the importance and impact of what you’re doing, you’re going to have problems.
3. Budget management and negotiation skills
IT professionals also need to display budget management and negotiation skills. The IT budget is typically one of the largest in a company, and an IT pro must have the ability to develop a budget that is proactive yet reactive, manage it closely, negotiate, and think of intelligent and sophisticated solutions that streamline operations and yield new efficiencies. Employers want to have confidence that you’re making the most of available their spend and are keeping the company’s financial integrity a priority.
4. Humility and curiosity
Being humble and asking questions is another core competency. In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of cybersecurity, even the most experienced IT pro won’t have the answer to everything. And, when it comes to answers, just relying on web searches isn’t enough. Don’t be afraid to engage colleagues within or beyond your firm to arrive at solutions.
5. Commitment to learning
It is absolutely true that knowledge is power. IT pros need to stay on top of the latest changes and developments, as well as learn as much as they can from everyone around them. This includes reading industry articles, signing up for training courses, attending conferences, and observing how to become better professionals from teammates, managers, coworkers, customers, mentors, and competitors. Learning new things all the time will keep the tech staff and every other professional and up to date.
Make Yourself Invaluable
Achieving all five key traits can be an evolution. Not everyone will demonstrate all of them immediately. It’s important to recognize that technical, personal, and professional skills can be learned and come from many sources. At the end of the workday, an IT department will come out on top if it is integrated into company operations encourages teamwork and achievement toward common goals and a healthy appetite for learning and emphasizes personal skills as being mission-critical to driving personal growth and company progress.