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Top five tips for advancing your IT career

Richard Hunt
It is only natural that, whatever industry you work in, you will come to a point at which you want to progress your career to the next level. This is not something that anyone should be afraid of or embarrassed about wanting. After all, the vast majority of individuals will be looking to advance and reach as high a level in their chosen field as possible.

Here we take a look at five steps you can make that will help you to give your CV a boost and enhance your credentials, allowing you to more easily move forwards on a professional level.

1. Qualifications

It goes without saying that the more qualifications you attain and the more honours next to your name, the greater your chance of making swift and significant progress through the ranks in a company's IT department.

BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT - is the global awarding body in the computing sector and it has outlined its determination to help everyone secure as many certificates as possible. It told how it helps people of all abilities, whether they are using a computer for the first time or heading up an organisation's agile transformation.

The qualifications that the institute allows people to study for and attain are carefully picked to ensure they demonstrate to employers you can achieve the globally-recognised benchmark in a variety of IT skills and disciplines.

What's more, the range of areas in which you can learn is vast, so there is sure to be something for everyone. For instance, BCS runs IT user qualifications courses, higher education qualifications and professional certification, so no matter what stage of your career you are at, there is always more you can do to boost your credentials.

2. Experience

IT is an area that values experience tremendously highly, so if you are to land a prized role you will probably have to demonstrate that you have already tackled all of its responsibilities before. Being unable to gain experience without being given a chance but needing experience to secure an opportunity in the first place is a vicious circle, so think outside the box.

You can opt to take on various roles and responsibilities that are outside of your contracted remit on a voluntary basis in order to build up your knowledge and expertise in areas you might otherwise struggle to work in. Alternatively, you could look outside the company you work for and put the hours in on a different project altogether, perhaps even one of your own making.

To land the top jobs, you will need to be able to prove you are up to the task, so simply doing the bare minimum is not an option. Instead, go out of your way to develop new skills that will stand you in good stead in the long run.

3. Master the cloud

There is no getting away from the fact cloud computing is now a major part of everyday life for every IT worker in the UK. The opportunity to store vast quantities of data, access it from remote locations and manage it efficiently is too good to miss out on.

Yorkshire Cloud recently published figures from a variety of sources that indicate how important the cloud is. For instance, it quoted statistics from the Cloud Industry Forum that predicted more than 75 per cent of all businesses in the UK will run at least one cloud service by the end of 2013, while Ibis World suggested the British cloud market will have been worth £5.79 billion in 2013.

The cloud is arguably the biggest arrival in IT circles since the internet all those years ago, so being able to master it is a must. If you prove you can, you might just be in line for a promotion or two as its relevance becomes increasingly important.

4. Networking

The IT sector is one in which networking can certainly pay off in the long run. A huge number of industry events, conferences and seminars are held each year, so showing your face and mixing with those who may one day be able to offer you a step up the career ladder is a wise move.

An article by TDK has previously suggested there is a three-step guide to networking success. This involves first doing a degree of homework on a particular company or individual, then diving in by going face to face with them, before finally working hard to keep the relationship alive.

5. Eliminate customer pains

More than almost any other industry, IT is an area where there are issues and practices that have the potential to drive customers crazy. We have all been in a position where we are on the phone to technical support for one problem or another.

If you manage to come up with solutions to these types of problems, you will find you are worth your weight in gold. Firstly, you will reduce the amount of time your employer has to spend dealing with customer problems, while you will also trigger a rise in satisfaction among clients.

Either way, this might just be enough to make you stand out as a success story worthy of a higher-ranking role.

Read our related blog: The right way to resign
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