What does it take to be a successful IT professional? This question has been discussed, debated and pondered over the years. While there are a number of technical skills associated with a person's success and they are all important, here we will focus on the general traits that every IT professional should possess and what every IT professional should know or do. While general traits like ethics or curiosity are harder to learn and develop, professional skills like the ability to talk about what you don't know or not being afraid to ask for technical help can be learned and developed.
If you're preparing to become an IT professional, pay special atention to such traits to see if they're right for you. Everyone can develop their skills in the "what you know or can do" category, whether you're a newbie or have been in the industry for years.
What qualities should an IT professional have? Listed below are the important qualities that an IT professional should possess. These are the qualities you should look for in new candidates:
If you like a set routine, are rarely (or never) interrupted and have a high degree of predictability, then IT may not for you. In fact, an IT professional, you need to be adaptable both a micro and macro level.
On a micro level, thing change every minute of every day. An email server crashe a disk fails, or a business leader deletes a file and asks you to return it immediately for an important meeting. All of these things normal and happen every day.
Here's the thing: a successful professional is curious, inquisitive and eager to learn. These qualities all describe the same thing: an unquenchable desire to learn new things. This closely linked to adaptability - in order to adapt, you need to constantly learn new things, keep up with industry trends and decide which areas are worth exploring and which are "future-proof". There's a lot to learn in IT, so find out what interests you and explore those areas. Get a good grasp of the field and then understand how it can be applied to other fields; pay attention to developments in these related fields and changes that may happen in your chosen field. If your field seems to be in decline, determine your next steps and start learning now while there is still work to be done.
The ability to learn is closely related the first two qualities. Be quick to learn and observe. Take guidance, advice, correction when you make mistake, etc. and learn from them. If you receive constructive criticism, reflect on it and decide how you will behave differently in the future. When challenged, don't get defensive. Instead, learn from it and improve so you don't repeat the same mistakes. Many of these lessons come from tough schooling. While these lessons are often uncomfortable, the experience and reflection afterwards can prove invaluable and set you apart from others.
There is a great need for teamwork in today's IT industry. In the 1980s, when there wasn't much IT infrastructure, most of the work was done by help desks, so there wasn't much teamwork, which simply meant a division of labor between existing employees. In the 1990s and into the 21st century, IT mainly focused on siloed facilities like storage, networking, server management . Today, these isolated silos are increasingly breaking down with virtualization and the need for teamwork and SDN, software-defined storage - effectively a software-defined data center a company has one.
While the other qualities mentioned above focus on change, adaptability and the ability to work with others, ethics and reliability are key skills that you need to have to be among the youngest IT professionals. In IT, you will often have access to confidential information (financial, tax, medical, educational records, etc.). If you even think about accessing data you don't need, that's a red flag. Once you've gained access, it's tempting to do it again, and it's only a matter of time before you're caught out. Once caught, your IT career at any company is over. Ethical standards must always be impeccable. It is not an exaggeration to say that companies owe their existence to the data stored by IT and that abusing this trust can have financial, legal and other consequences.
Knowledge and skills are important, but if you can transfer them in an engaging and positive way to colleagues, management and customers, you can do a lot. No one likes working with negative person who says no to every request. Find solutions to problems and present them to the people involved. While not as important as ethics, passion is important you want to grow in your career.
The traits mentioned above are very important and although they can be developed, they usually require a lot of time and effort. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to develop or improve your character, just be aware that it's a slow process and don't expect instant success.
If you have to revert a change, write down what you did. If you need technical support, send a list of what you did to the support team. This way they can learn from your experience and avoid repeating the same mistakes. If you have a record of what you have done in the past, you will be able to react more quickly if you encounter similar problems in the future. The other members of your organisation can learn from your actions and you can learn from theirs, which is linked to the concepts of learning and teamwork. Again, document the troubleshooting process as you go. Document as you work, not later when you forget the exact steps.
If you use Windows on your workstation, one of our favorite tips is to press F5 when you record your work in the notepad to add a date and time stamp so you know exactly what you did, what you changed, what you said, etc. This can come in handy if you need to find the time in another system or logbook.
Planning is very important. As an IT professional, you should be able to plan for things like implementing changes and updating systems. Closely related to the ability to plan is the ability to create the possibility of failure while moving forward. Things don't always go according to plan, so having a backup plan in case something goes wrong can help you recover faster, reduce downtime, etc. than shooting from the hip and waiting to see what happens.
Beyond technical skils, success in IT services requires an interesting mix of personality traits and knowledge and skills. Assess your personality traits and skills to find out if IT is right for you and consider how you can develop these qualities to advance your IT career. Review the list regularly to see how far you have progressed and identify areas where you still need to work.