Wherever you are in your IT career, you can continue to improve your current role and enhance your future prospects. Continuous personal development ensures you stay at the top of your game, which gives you greater options when it comes to finding your next job role or stepping up the career ladder.
In 2020, invest some time in yourself. Here we bring together some top tips for personal development that you can take on board to build on your existing skills, boost your career potential and keep you highly employable.
When you are settled into a job role, working within a specific sector, it’s easy to focus solely on that and not keep an eye on what’s happening in the IT industry. It’s a fast-moving sector, and new technology is being introduced, developed and adapted all the time. While having a broad knowledge of the current trends and changes in the IT sector might not directly impact on your current role, it does help to improve your employability for future roles. You may even be able to apply some of the new technologies within your existing role and find a fresh way of approaching a new project.
To keep your finger firmly on the pulse, you could subscribe to one of the popular industry publications. ComputerWorld is a good one-stop website and publication that breaks the latest news, as well as analyses industry movements. A niche, but useful, publication is Certification Magazine, a technical training and certification magazine for IT professionals.
Another way to keep on top of and discuss trends within the IT industry is to be a part of tech forums. These enable you to chat with peers about the possible applications of new technologies and advances in the industry, as well as understand them better. Take a look at Tech Republic for general discussion, or there are more niche forums for your particular area of expertise.
Ongoing training is a good way to develop your personal skills. Taking online or physical courses covering new technologies ensures you have plenty of valuable and relevant material to add to your CV, as well as open up more job opportunities in different areas. Consider professional certifications, for example, in specific technologies to show your areas of expertise.
Build your online presence
There are plenty of online resources dedicated to helping you develop your skills, work collaboratively on projects, get feedback from peers and build up your personal brand.
One of the most popular is Stack Overflow, which is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. As of January 2019 Stack Overflow has over 10 million registered users.
It’s a good place to share your own knowledge, as well as learn from others. Advance your career through networking with businesses, brands and individuals from all over the world. It can aid you in solving complex coding problems – many heads can be better than one after all – and help you prepare for new job opportunities.
Another useful resource is GitHub, a development platform that works in a collaborative fashion to bring teams together to work on influential and innovative technologies. It’s a great place for experimentation, as well as finding solutions to issues.
Using these kinds of resources can help you to build a personal profile and brand within the global IT industry. Potential employers can garner a lot of information about your skills and abilities from your interactions on these communities. They can not only see your own experience but also how you engage with others and solve their problems, which shows you are a team player, can think outside the box and are actively involved in the industry.
Attend User Groups in your area
Networking doesn’t only have to happen online. There are plenty of physical opportunities to meet people within your industry and meet like-minded individuals to share knowledge with.
User Groups are tech meetups that bring together IT professionals, technology enthusiasts and industry leaders to discuss, investigate, collaborate and debate the latest technologies. The advantage of User Groups over technology forums is that you can meet people within your local region and they are usually very focused on a specific technology. They tend to attract a broad range of people, so you get to benefit from different levels of experience and expand upon your current knowledge.
Similarly, there are other meetups and events, such as Hackathons, where a wide range of people from different technological areas comes together to collaborate on a software project and explore new and innovative technologies. These exciting events are great for networking, as well as sharpening your own skillset.
Be versatile in your role
Even within your own company and your own job role, there are opportunities for you to build on your personal development. Rather than focusing solely on your position and responsibilities, be a team player and gain experience by volunteering to help in other areas of the business. Understand your company’s goals and keep up to date with how it is performing, so you can see how your work is contributing to a greater whole. Help out on new projects and ensure you stay valuable to the company. Even within your own work, think of how you can go that extra mile – making a project more user-friendly or solving a problem in a different way.
Don’t neglect your ‘soft skills’ either. Show that you can perform well under pressure, manage your time on projects effectively and lead a team. Brush up on your public-speaking skills so you can deliver informed and confident presentations, and don’t forget the small things like being punctual, returning phone calls, responding to emails and being generally polite.
You are responsible for your own career path, so take charge of it and be responsible for ensuring you stay current, well-informed and build your profile both within your own company and in the IT industry as a whole. This will help make 2020 your best career year yet.