Career Development Posts

The New World of IT Career Development, Part 2: Executing Your Career Plan

Note: This is the second article in a two-part series about navigating the new world of IT career development. The first part was about creating a plan for your IT career. This part delves into how to execute that plan. 

 

So you have a career plan for the IT industry. You know where you want to go. How do you make it happen? And how do you learn new skills without breaking the bank?

 

Part 2: Executing Your IT Career Plan

 

Technical Skills

Start with the inventory of technical skills you need, and identify free or low cost sources that will help teach those skills. Many sources are available!

 

Books, both in hard copy and e-books

Don’t overlook the classic way to learn a topic. A surprising number of technical topics are available in hard copy and e-formats. For example, there are dozens of books on JavaScript, and they are available in used book stores, on the internet, and even from the larger libraries.   You don’t need the latest and greatest book: a book published several years ago is certainly good enough to learn the basics. Opt for the books that contain practice exercises.

 

The Internet

The saying “you can’t believe everything you see on the internet” is true, but the internet is a rich source of both introductory and advanced information on IT skills. These sites range from a few screens on the topic to complete courses. A Google or Bing search for “learning JavaScript free” will list hundreds of sites on JavaScript.

Of course, our own predictive testing platform at Skillset provides a good marriage between specific test prep and exploratory career advancement. If you’re not sure how all the skills fit together, or which you need to focus on before seeking a new career, Skillset can be invaluable for finding your way through different assessments for IT skills and beyond.

One interesting site is Code Academy, which has currently free courses on various IT topics, such as JavaScript, HTML, jQuery, Python, CSS, and PHP.

A number of sites offer the first lesson free, but charge for the remainder of the course.One of the premier learning sites is Lynda.com. For $25 a month, you have unlimited access to their extensive library of courses.

Consider local colleges and universities. Some offer evening courses that are open to adult non-degree students. Others host free online courses, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) that are essentially free online courses open to anyone.

Consider YouTube as well. A search for JavaScript shows dozens of videos – and even several courses – on the subject. While the quality varies, YouTube videos are a source for free technical education.

 

Certification Zero: Where to Start on Your Path to a Dream Certification

Any good epidemiologist, or zombie movie aficionado, can tell you that if you want to solve a seemingly overwhelming problem you need to start at the beginning.

With matters that spread throughout a population, “the beginning” is commonly referred to as “patient zero.” Getting high-level certifications can seem as complicated as saving the world from endless hungry hoards—especially when you start to explore what your peers and competitors have already accomplished—but all you need to do is break the pricess up into manageable steps, starting with the beginning.

What you need is your “certification zero”—a starting point to guide you down the path toward your ultimate goals.

Today, we’ll look at a step-by-step approach to build your skills and bring you in the direction of that coveted, career-changing certification.

 

Getting Started with the CISSP Certification

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, is a great certification to take the long approach on. It requires five years of related work experience before you can even sit the test. There are, of course, 10 “domains,” or subject areas within the CISSP certification, so the experience required can cover a lot of different job roles.

Many people find the CISSP daunting as a starting point. In that case, your “certification zero” can be an associated certification (or two) that will build toward your ultimate goal.

CompTIA offers several certifications that you might want to start with on your path toward being an IT security guru. Network+ would be a smart choice, because five of the ten domains are directly related to IT Network Security, which makes the Network+ a great place to begin getting the skills, practice, and job experience you will need in order to eventually pass the CISSP exam as well.

Three Simple Ways to Prepare for a Certification Exam

When it comes to preparing for an exam, different methods work for different people. Since not everyone is the same, there are plenty of tips and tricks to ready yourself for an exam and stay ready.

There are three time-tested and well-researched components for preparing yourself to take any major exam, including certifications:

  • Staying Physically Ready for an Exam
  • Staying Mentally Ready for an Exam
  • Staying Emotionally Ready for an Exam

Many people are naturally very good at one or two of these areas—perhaps you have a strong memory, or you don’t get rattled by the significance of the test—but it takes practice to get good at all three.

And if you can master all three of these areas, test taking will not only be much easier for any exams you’re currently preparing for, but it will also get you used to the challenges and routines of staying “on the ball” for future exams, quizzes and tests.

 

The New World of IT Career Development: Not Your Father’s Career Path

A link to Skillset.com for IT career planningInformation Technology is no longer a neatly categorized and stable profession. In the past, website developers were comfortable with a knowledge of HTML, PHP, and JavaScript. And website developers, well, only developed.

That’s not the situation today. Website developers may need to understand or code in C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, and ASP.NET. Next year, it could other languages or tools. And developers are expected to understand web design concepts, and even create web designs themselves.

Once IT professional considered themselves versatile if they understood Oracle and MS SQl Server. Today, hiring managers look for IT staff familiar with MsSQL, Voldemort, HBase, and PostgreSQL. Next year, who knows?

 

Part I – Creating the Plan

 

Reliance on a single language, database, tool, or skill set is obsolete. No one knows what their organization will introduce or need next year, and no one knows when they will be forced to look for a new position. Rather than worry or resign oneself to fate, IT professionals need to develop their own career plans. The key to a career development plan is to position yourself as:

  • Marketable
  • Flexible
  • State of the art

 

Marketable means you are valuable both to your current organization and other companies or agencies in your community. It means you have the exact skills sets they need or skills sets that are obviously close to their specific needs and can be quickly developed.

Flexible implies that you have successfully performed with a variety of tools, languages, approaches, and devices. Flexible also means you are comfortable with learning.

State of the Art classifies you as one who is familiar with current technology.

Your own customized career development plan will help you reach those goals. Don’t wait for your manager or HR department to provide you with a path – it’s your responsibility. How do you start?

 

Skillset.com and The Future of Training: An Interview With Darren Dalasta

We will be regularly interviewing leaders in career development, education, skills assessments, human resources and other relevant industries here on the Skillset blog. We like interviews because they start a literal conversation, and they allow everyone to step back for a minute to talk about the bigger picture.

For our inaugural interview, it’s only appropriate that we interview Darren Dalasta, a founding member of the team here at Skillset.com. In this interview, Dalasta explains the story behind Skillset, how it impacts the training and professional certification climate, and where he sees education and career development a year from now.

 

What was the inspiration behind Skillset.com? Why did the Skillset team decide to create it?

Skillset exists because we heard the cry from IT professionals for more and better practice questions for their certification exams. There aren’t many places where you can get access to thousands of practice questions to see if you’re ready for the test. We want to provide free, exponential access to practice questions and tests.

The most-used options prior to this were to use downloaded, stolen exam questions and feel guilty about it, buy very expensive (and short) practice tests if you could find them somewhere, or use the same questions over and over again.

We had the experience to create something people wanted, and hopefully build an intelligent service on top of it that will eventually help them understand and learn how to expand their skills and skillsets to something far beyond practicing for a certification exam.