By Robert Half Technology
As business and technology become more entwined, IT professionals are finding that companies expect them to deliver more than just expertise in their core competencies. Companies want candidates who combine their tech skills with business acumen. They want IT personnel who can work collaboratively with colleagues in other departments to identify opportunities to increase the company’s profitability through more effective use of technology.
There are good reasons for this shift in expectations. More companies are embracing business-transformative technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization, social media and mobile. They need professionals who not only understand the nuts-and-bolts of these technologies but also clearly see how the business can use them strategically to increase competitive advantage.
When it comes to IT hiring, more companies are now focusing on the “and” that connects a technology professional’s expertise to the “something more” that they can potentially provide that adds value to the business. The question is, if an employer asks you to deliver an “and,” would you be prepared to do so? Here are some strategies to help ensure that you can:
Understand your industry — as well as your employer’s. No matter what your role is — systems analyst, network architect, database manager, helpdesk professional or something else — stay apprised of trends in your field. New developments in your area of expertise could ultimately have an impact on how your employer conducts its business. This is why it’s also important to pay attention to the demands being placed on your company’s industry, such as competitive pressures or regulatory compliance requirements. Consider building your personal expertise in IT areas that could help your business better meet those demands.
Keep expanding your knowledge. When workplace training opportunities arise, don’t miss the chance to learn new skills that can enhance or expand your current abilities — if you have the time and permission to do so. The training does not have to be IT-related: Perhaps your company is offering a leadership training course or a seminar on business communication skills.
If the training does focus on technology, be willing to explore new areas. Even if you don’t end up working with certain technologies regularly, understanding how to use them — and where, how and why your employer is initially implementing them — may help you think of ways they might be applied elsewhere in the business. In addition, by expanding your knowledge and skills in both business and technology, you’ll likely improve your mobility within your organization, as well as increase your marketability in your field generally.
Be proactive about adding value. Make it a part of your everyday job to find ways to increase efficiency and profitability for your department — and for the broader organization, wherever possible. Such contributions can help to raise your visibility in the company. Even small improvements can be significant enough to help move a business forward over time.
Unsure where you can add value? Review your current job description and compare it to those in leading industry resources, such as the “Robert Half Technology Salary Guide.” Are the expectations that your employer has set for your position in line with industry norms? Being aware of what you should be providing to your company in your current role — and then making a point to deliver it, whether or not you’re being asked to do so — can go a long way toward adding value.
Sometimes the “and” employers look for in IT staff is additional technical skills. As more organizations look to emerging technologies to boost marketing efforts, improve operations, gain business insights and produce superior customer experiences, the demand for professionals with expertise in more than one of these in-demand areas is also rising. (So, too, are starting compensation levels for some specialized roles.) In these cases, too, technology professionals who have demonstrated solid business acumen by helping their employers find ways to increase profitability are likely to have an edge in the hiring environment.