As an IT professional, the modern workplace can seem a place full of challenges, dulled interactions between co-workers, and few reasons to engage with others. Right now, the latest research indicates that IT workers’ personality profiles differentiated significantly from other types of jobs by personality traits. What researchers discovered was that the personality profiles of IT workers are strikingly different compared to other jobs. Of course, these differences come with the same worries over job performance, communication with workplace colleagues, and career success. That being said, starting off the New Year by integrating into the workplace to a higher degree is a burden which falls on the shoulders of both the IT professionals and the businesses.
What Can IT Professionals Do?
The first thing IT professionals can do is improve their communication skills. Being outside of what feels “comfortable” is one of the key ways in which people learn. While it is more appealing to remain inside your currently explored level of aptitude, pushing yourself to try new things, to accept potential failure or mild embarrassment, and working hard to integrate something that you consider “uncomfortable” into your daily life can open up a world of possibilities. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, enrolling in a public speaking course at a local college or online, or volunteering for a weekend with an organizational campaign that forces you to talk all day can help you to get over that hump.
The more you complete uncomfortable tasks, the less uncomfortable they become. The same is true of the mere idea of actually doing something that is uncomfortable. This begets higher confidence levels. If you were previously reticent to engage with your co-workers for fear that they might discuss something about which you have little knowledge, reading local news or a classic book can be the perfect way to enter into a conversation seamlessly.
A secondary aspect to communication skills involves going to Meetups. The more engaged you are with others in your career field and in your workplace, the more you can push yourself out of your shell. You never know what things other people might have to teach you in a passing conversation that you might not have picked up anywhere else. You never know what lessons you can learn by listening to someone else’s mistakes or experiences. This type of communication and engagement in the workplace can seem purely social but it is both a viable networking opportunity and a learning opportunity.
The second thing IT professionals can do is improve their certifications. The more certifications you have under your belt, the higher your confidence levels will be. Each individual is worth the sum total of the skills they bring to society. It was once said that a man saw someone bleeding out on the street and rushed to attend them, and when asked if he was a doctor or if he knew any first aid, the man declined both and stated, “But I am a really good dad”. This short story exemplifies how people are really socially worth what tangible skills they have. If you want to do well in your field, you have to improve your certifications regularly. The field of IT is unique in that it changes regularly, and when it changes, the changes are significant. That being said, working in said field requires you to shift your focus or viewpoint about the job and to look at new certifications as a regular part of your career. If you set a personal goal for yourself to achieve one or two new certifications on a regular basis, you will find that your career will take off faster than you can keep up, and people will naturally engage with you in the new topics you have to share. This will surely boost your confidence.
The third and final thing you can do to improve your career is to be less worried about what path your career might take, and instead focusing on the old adage of keeping your nose to the grindstone. As with any career field, there is stress. But stress can be both good and bad. When the body is stressed, the hormones and chemicals released can cause slight levels of anxiety and boost performance. Your body will respond to the stressful outside stimuli by giving you the power to handle the stress. It becomes detrimental when you allow the stress to overpower you into unproductive submission. So, before that takes place, use the immediate surge of anxiety as motivation to work hard until each of your tasks are complete. Those who focus on their success in a healthy manner are more likely to circumvent the slippery slope of worry that accompanies stressing about a career. One good way to think about it is, every time you cognitively focus on your potential failures or how you might not do well in your next certification exam is time you could have instead immediately diverted to working hard. As with all things, if you stop yourself the minute unhelpful thoughts about your career path take over and start focusing on work, you will get much more done with your time than you thought possible.
Lounsbury, J. W., Sundstrom, E., Levy, J. J., & Gibson, L. W. (2014). Distinctive Personality Traits of Information Technology Professionals. Computer and Information Science, 7(3). doi:10.5539/cis.v7n3p38