The following 12 recommendations will help you determine what success looks like for you in the technology field and what behaviors and actions you can take at any point in your journey to prepare for a career in technology.
In the technology field, there are so many varied pathways to success. Your career is your journey, and only you can determine what career success means to you. Yet, within the technology field, there are critical areas of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that, if pursued and adopted, provide a significantly improved chance of career advancement, irrespective of how you define career success.
The twelve recommendations involve adopting crucial behaviors that apply throughout your career, as well as specific actions you should take at different stages of your career. The goal of this career planning guide is to support you in developing new skills and abilities and adopting the behaviors needed for success. Whether starting your career right out of school, hoping to land your first management job, or looking to advance as a seasoned executive or technologist, you should gain meaningful insights from the following behaviors and actions:
Behaviors to adopt to help you advance or prepare for a career in technology
There is nothing more important than to be a person of integrity, whose word is their bond, and who will do the right thing, even in the face of adversity. You will set yourself apart from most people if you are a person of integrity.
The rate of change keeps accelerating, particularly in the field of technology. Your professional value is highly dependent on maintaining your currency in your chosen subject and its related areas, so make formal and informal learning a planned habit.
Make it a career, not just a job. If you see something as “just a job,” you probably aren’t deriving much fulfillment from it. But if you commit to something as a career, you are inspired to learn more about that field and pursue jobs that further your goals.
Actions to take earlier in your career to prepare for a career in technology
Ultimately, you are in charge of where you want to end up in your career and the path you choose to get there. A career plan with both long-term goals and short-term objectives can keep you motivated and moving incrementally to your goals. Be flexible and open to new opportunities that arise.
Building and maintaining a professional network is a career-long undertaking that requires dedication and patience. The payoff, sometimes decades later, can be profound. Start with your organization, find the right professional association, use social media, and make yourself available as a support to others in your network.
Having trusted mentors who can provide you objective feedback and advice is essential. Even more valuable is having mentors with similar experiences who can support your journey. Early in your career, you should have at least one mentor in each of these areas: 1) subject-matter expertise, 2) appropriate business behaviors, and 3) interpersonal relationships.
It is worth investing in yourself to become an expert. Over a career, you will reap a substantial return on your investment. Within the technology field, there are three typical ways to become an expert: 1) develop the KSAs associated with a specific technology, 2) develop the KSAs associated with a specific process discipline, and 3) apply technology-based solutions to address specific business challenges.
Investing in learning the discipline of project management, especially earlier in your career, will pay you dividends in ways you cannot imagine. Earn a project management credential, proactively work to get task and project management experience, and find a project management mentor.
Actions to take later in your career to advance or prepare for a career in technology
Become an individual who can straddle the business and technology, understanding how technology-based products and solutions can address your organization’s business challenges. Real value is not in the technology-based solutions themselves, but in how those solutions improve the underlying business process, product, or service.
Continue to improve your leadership capabilities. Work to understand and apply various leadership models and improve your ability to handle all manner of workforce challenges. Good management starts with the ability to manage yourself and your activities. As you progress, your ability to adapt your leadership approach to what works in a given situation will determine your success as a leader.
Being a change agent is one of the more meaningful assignments you can have in your career and can create significant value for you and your organization. Being a change agent is important, because a risk-averse business culture can threaten an organization’s very existence.
There is a sense of accomplishment and serenity that comes with doing good for others. There is hardly anything more important than helping others grow, so they are more likely to reach their career goals. Be a mentor to someone, become an advisor, or teach in your area of expertise.
Having a career in which you love your work, your work is meaningful to you and others, and you do your work with integrity is, in an of itself, success.
Success in the Technology Field: A Guide for Advancing Your Career
Success in the Technology Field is a practical “how-to” guide for a career in technology. It presents a holistic model, incorporating skills and behaviors that help you define and attain your career goals, whether you aspire to be an executive, a leading technologist, or a successful product salesperson.