It is worth investing in yourself to become an expert—over a career, you will reap a substantial return on your investment.
“Become an Expert” is one of the essential 12 behaviors and actions to adopt and practice from Success in the Technology Field that will help you to advance or prepare for a career in technology. 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.
There is an unprecedented number of new subject areas in technology and various positions or work roles that align with each subject. Within cybersecurity alone, the NIST workforce framework for cybersecurity (the NICE Framework) defines seven workforce categories, thirty-three distinct areas of work, and fifty-two individual work roles. If you expand to specific product expertise, the number of distinct roles, or subjects, in the technology field is undoubtedly in the thousands.
Become an Expert
Anytime during your career, but particularly early in your career, you should strive to become an expert in a particular subject. It can be in a technology or process discipline or the application of solutions to address business challenges. With considerable focus and effort, you can become an expert in a chosen subject in a five-year time frame. That fits well with my recommendation for viewing your career in five-year segments. It also works well with the development of your IDP, which should be a five-year plan. Within the technology field, there are three typical ways to become an expert:
- Develop the KSAs associated with a specific technology
- Develop the KSAs associated with a specific process discipline
- Apply technology-based solutions to address specific business challenges.
Choose a subject in which you can strive to become an expert. The subject needs to align with your long-term career goals. You should have a passion for the subject, and you must be able to gain real-world experience in your subject. Use your mentors to support you in choosing the subject and developing your plan. Capture as part of your IDP a five-year plan to become an expert in your chosen subject.
How do you know that you have met your objective to master a subject and become an expert in a given subject? Here are four questions to ask yourself:
- Are you frequently asked for the use of your expertise in a subject?
- Do you personally know some of the individuals considered to be world-class in your subject?
- Have you published an article or made public presentations related to your subject?
- Have you contributed content to enhance the state-of-the-art in your subject?
Given the subjective nature of the question, “Are you an expert,” it is not a given that you have to answer “yes” to all four questions posed above to think of yourself as an expert. You can use these questions as yardsticks regarding whether you are recognized as an expert inside as well as outside your organization.
No matter your position or background, as a professional in the technology field, you support the development or delivery of solutions to address customers’ challenges. And the creation, development, and fielding of such solutions require expertise in technology, products, processes, sales, and marketing—all leading to the ability to craft such solutions for a particular customer. Your value increases substantially to the degree that you can become an expert in a facet of this value chain. It is worth investing in yourself to become an expert—over a career, you will reap a substantial return on your investment.
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.