Please do not get me wrong - it is a must to be conversant in skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Be it in programming, systems integration or business IT consulting. But these are table stakes. As the industry grows, companies are diversifying their capabilities and solutions to stay competitive. The resulting impact is that companies will be looking for talent that exhibits the x-factor to differentiate themselves and stay in the game.
Academic qualifications certify that you have the aptitude for a particular job, but how you approach your job and steer your career to reach the inflexion point sets you apart. Here, I would like to define "inflexion point" as the point where you would be hunted for a job role, where you will command a significant compensation premium vis-à-vis your contemporaries.
Some important x-factors would be relentless passion, ability to re-invent, a keen eye for opportunities and gamed to take on the challenge.
For example, an IT consultant may one day be asked to manage projects and people. Having an understanding of what clients need against the backdrop of technology development and how it can be applied will put the consultant in a better position to advise the client, and to motivate his or her team so that everything comes together. The same is true for any profession within the IT chain. The application of technology rather than the technology itself is important and that requires the industry and business context perceptiveness besides technical skills.
Being opportunity-aware and cognizant of "the next big thing" instead of just doing your everyday job will enable you to ride with the tide and not miss the train when building your career. Also, the appetite to take risks and accept an assignment that will allow you to push the boundaries and face some hard knocks are critical attributes to have.
In this regard here are some questions for you to ponder on:
- What are the current disruptions in the IT industry, how is my company managing that disruption and how can I contribute?
- What are the emerging technologies right now, for example, Web 2.0/3.0 and how can I translate into business opportunities for my organisation or my customers?
- What critical skills do I need to acquire to make myself a more well-rounded talent and thus achieve the inflexion point of my career?
- Am I relatively comfortable in my current job role? If the answer is yes, it is time to look for a change. My suggestion is to look for roles where you have 75% of the pre-requisites and 25% room to learn and grow
- What assignments can I take on that will take me out of my comfort zone and push me to the next level? Is it an overseas assignment? A bigger project? A larger book of business?
Being aware and deliberate will better enable you to build your IT career to the inflexion point you want. While we cannot say for sure where technology will take us, the way we interact with technology today is a good indication of where we are headed.
For the perceptive ones amongst you, be it from the standpoint of a candidate entering the industry or a seasoned veteran in the arena, the stage is set for a fulfilling career.