Getting a career – in IT

Do you want a career in IT?

3 Question marks

Back to the 80’s for a moment, it was easier then and I was lucky. Upon leaving school I had 2 career options, one of which was to join a bank. This was nothing like the options that I had thus far considered. James Herriot was big on our TV screens at the time so becoming a caring country vet was top of my list.  Closely followed by  an amiable policewoman – the latter being my favourite (I still wonder how an extra 2″ in height might have made a mile of difference in my life!).

So I joined the bank and picked up a fantastic work ethic, which has lived with me ever since. I did not stay long, preferring to follow the bright lights of the Insurance world. (I know – get a life springs to mind!)

After a short time I was fortunate enough to enter the world of IT, following a well trodden career pathway of operations, programming, analysis, design etc… The rest as they say is history.

My point in meandering for a moment down memory lane is to illustrate the difference between then and now, particularly if you are hankering after a career in IT. Because then I was able to be in the right place, at the right time and fall into a career in IT.

Now, not even a good IT degree will necessarily get you a plum role in IT.

The profile of on-shore versus off-shore roles has changed significantly as certain categories of roles have moved to places like India.

Whereas a ‘techie anorak’ was once worn with pride, the IT Professional in 2012 needs to demonstrate far more rounded skills. Terms like ‘stakeholder management’ and ‘client engagement’ are now as important as being fully technically skilled. The IT Professional of today needs to possess & maintain hybrid skills.

If your thoughts, talents and intuition are taking you towards a career in IT then I  have a suggestion which may well assist you in either making the decision (IT or NOT to IT) or in helping you decide on a particular flavour of IT or in searching for a particular role:

A really good resource which will enable you to think more clearly about the role that you are aiming for is to look at the SFIA Framework. This is the Skills Framework for the Information Age and you can find out more about the framework by visiting the SFIA website. SFIA  describes skills in 2 ways:

  • Generic skills and 7 levels of responsibility within them. These can apply to any industry. An example of a generic skill is Autonomy.
    • For example, if I were operating at the highest level of autonomy I would have authority and responsibility for all aspects of a significant area of work.
    • However, if I were operating at the lowest level I would be working under supervision, using little or no discretion and needing to seek guidance in unexpected situations.
  • Professional Skills, which are grouped into categories which equate broadly to IT functions such as Business Change, which includes the skill descriptor for Business Analysis. Within say Business Analysis, there are certain levels described:
    • Operating at the highest level I would ‘take full responsibility for business analysis within a significant segment of the organisation.’
    • Operating at the lowest level I might ‘contribute towards making recommendations for improvements to automated/non-automated component’.

The IT industry as a whole is beginning to use this system more and more to classify skills.  It provides a common language for everyone from educators to recruiting Companies.

You can use it as a way to see what is involved in all of the various IT roles. You may even be surprised at the diversity of roles/skills that are out there!

Please comment to let me know whether this post has been useful to you.

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