IT and BI Career Development – March 2010

Has it been 6 months, a year, or more since you worked in IT? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Statistically speaking, the odds are that you or a friend is unemployed, underemployed, or working outside of IT. Further still, according to Foote Partners, an independent IT research and advisory firm, the IT employment outlook in 2010 is expected to be marginal at best and real changes won’t occur until 2011. There is no time to wait. Now is the time to reposition yourself for the future.

Keeping active during your job search is more complex and challenging, but infinitely more important than in years past. In the pre-recession years, IT professionals were accustomed to a job-seekers market where jobs were plentiful, employment gaps were short, and networking actually produced rapid results. Now, as employment gaps can stretch to a breaking point, enthusiasm suffers and motivation fades. But lost enthusiasm leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy of diminishing opportunity. You have to stop the spiral downward by looking up. Think about all the things you’ve done to get updated, expand skills and knowledge, and stay current in the ever-changing roles and responsibilities of Information Technology. If you’ve done a lot, remember it, show it in your resume, and show it in your attitude. If you’ve not done a lot, it is time to get started. Activity leads to enthusiasm, and enthusiasm leads to opportunity.

In this article, I’ll provide practical tips to showcase your career development accomplishments. This is more than just changing your resume; it is at the core of how you see yourself. When your job search has singularly focused on your last work assignment, it puts you at a disadvantage, particularly as the days stretch into months and that last work assignment becomes a historical artifact. Documenting and highlighting your recent activities shows planning, execution, and achievement of professional goals. It makes a clear statement that you’re still in the game.

Career Development Accomplishments
Your career development section should be placed right under your experience as your most recent accomplishment. Using a format as shown in Figure 1 is appropriate and integrates well into both functional and chronological resume styles.

Figure 1: Career Development Activity on Your Resume

Now you need to think about everything you’ve done. Make a list without regard to significance, language, or relevance. It’s important to get it all down. Once complete, the extent of what you’ve done will likely surprise you.

Accomplishment ExamplesI’ve listed the most common career development activities and how to represent them to your best advantage.

You’re working toward an IT certification, but have not completed all the requirements. You don’t need to wait until you’ve completed a training program to add it to your accomplishments. You can note your completion in different ways: the number of courses completed, a percentage of completion or the passage of a milestone.

  • Certified Information Management Professional (CIMP), completed 3 courses out of 5 required through eLearningCurve

  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, MCTS (completed training, certification in progress)MCSE training, Strategy Computers, completed 6-month program (expected certification 6/2010)
You’re planning a vertical or lateral move and have attended training or education outside of your traditional areas of expertise. You can use this to your benefit to show familiarity and knowledge in a new area. Hands-on training is particularly advantageous.
  • Regional Leadership Forum, Society for Information Management (SIM), 9-month program, 2009:
    Participated in real-world case studies, discussing challenges faced by multiple levels of management.

  • The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) conference, February 2010,
    Hands-on Analytics and Hands-on Data Mining:
    Learned the features and functionality of emerging technologies using advanced analytical tools.
You’ve joined industry groups and are attending meetings, volunteering with event logistics, or speaking on an area of expertise. Creating instructional material and being an engaging and informative speaker show a depth of knowledge and expression that begins to position you as an industry expert.
  • Member, Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), 2008–Present

  • Board Member, Los Angeles Chapter, The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI):
    Recruited well-known industry experts to speak at chapter meetings on subjects such as Agile Analytics in the Cloud, Emerging Spatial Data Technologies, and Operational BI.
  • Member, The Data Management Association (DAMA), Los Angeles Chapter:
    Attended regular meetings on subjects including Integrating Disparate Data, Dimensional Modeling, and Data Visualization.
  • Speaker, Enterprise Data World 2009 Conference:
    Presented best practice session on Successfully Implementing an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Program to a large audience of industry practitioners.
When you’ve attended a number of different courses, you don’t need to list everything. Consider using high-impact subject areas to illustrate your point.
  • Extensive continuing education through SANS Institute, including Advanced Security Essentials, Critical Security Controls, Forensics, Systems Administration, and Intrusion Analysis.

  • Extensive technical training: Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), business intelligence and data warehousing, and dimensional database development, etc.
You can use webinars, user groups, and online vendor training to stay current on tools, techniques, and methodologies. You can learn new tools or stay updated using 30-day software trials, free software, and open source software.
  • SAP Course CD251: Update your ABAP Development Skills to NetWeaver 7.0

  • SAP Webinar – Service Registry in SOA Middleware
  • Designed and built custom reports using MicroStrategy 9 Reporting Suite.
  • Experienced at Data Integration practices using open source technology.
You’re working as a freelancer on short-term projects. Project-based, online job postings offer lots of opportunities. You’ll be competing globally so you can’t expect to receive top dollar, but you will achieve your goal to get the experience you need to stay in the technical loop. Voluntary internships remain an excellent avenue for IT professionals. With budgets stretched to the breaking point and equipment quickly aging, your skills would be a welcome sight for many deserving non-profit and small profit companies. These accomplishments are shown the same way whether or not you’re paid.

Figure 2: Freelance Activity on Your Resume

NetworkingSome statistics suggest that up to 80% of jobs are found through networking. This means being well-positioned with an excellent resume, attitude, and presentation skills. Although typically not a comfortable task for IT professionals, networking is a necessity. I’ve compiled a list of industry resources where you can meet like-minded individuals. You will find a good match within this diverse list.

SummaryMy goal in writing this article was to help you feel positive about what you’ve done. Looking for a job is rarely fun, and it can be especially demoralizing in the current economy. Don’t allow the job-seeking experience to degrade your self-perception or your personal and professional relationships. Time spent appreciating yourself is time well-spent. My best wishes for a successful job search.

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About Jennifer Hay

Jennifer combines career coaching and resume writing skills with a broad knowledge of information technology to provide specialized and targeted career guidance services to IT professionals. Jennifer's varied background of IT positions, technical training, career counseling, and educational advising make a solid foundation for IT career counseling. Her interest in the human side of career development makes each career plan personal and individualized. Her unique and IT-specific assessment methods help people to make the best career decisions. A disciplined approach to planning and action helps to turn decisions and plans into real career successes. Please visit Jennifer's website or contact her through email at jhay@ITresumeservice.com.

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