Tips for future-proofing your career

A huge concern for today's CIO is developing and retaining information technology talent. For those who are beginners or a mid-career technology professional, this means you should be taking steps now to ensure you'll be on the short-list of people the CIO will need in the days ahead.

A huge concern for today's CIO is developing and retaining information technology talent. For those who are beginners or a mid-career technology professional, this means you should be taking steps now to ensure you'll be on the short-list of people the CIO will need in the days ahead. These qualified people will have the ability to mash tech smarts with solid business acumen and posses virtues like a creative flair to solve various problems, or strong ability to lead.

There are several approaches to consider for future-proofing your career. One of the best is to speak with your manager or human resources department about opportunities for cross-functional career development. This can involve training or special assignments that give you a close look at how the other half lives. This experience not only gives you insights into how IT projects are viewed by the business organization, but also helps you build valuable relationships. (A previous post covers more tips for how IT managers can better understand the business side of the house). Other avenues for skill development include finding a mentor who is willing and interested in your progress, and properly nurturing that relationship for mutual benefit. For those who are time-challenged, taking e-learning courses in areas that address weaknesses can be a flexible and convenient way to stay ahead.

If you haven't checked it out yet, BNET (a property of CNET Networks) is a great resource for business people, and it has a great career development section with content that addresses skill development and leadership among many other things. Lastly, make sure you review your resume annually and update it with new skills.

The point is, unless you are a baby boomer on the brink of retirement, you can't rest on your laurels if you are looking to get ahead in information technology. But there is a bright side. No matter where you are in your career, if you continue to develop them, your technology and business skills and talents will set you further away from the pack with the expected shortfall of IT graduates and the shrinking workforce as baby boomers retire.

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