The ongoing need for highly skilled IT professionals has made the following dilemma more commonplace among employees with <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=skills&articleId=9110173&taxonomyId=58&intsrc=kc_top">in-demand skills</a> : After careful deliberation, you accept an attractive job offer from a new employer, but as soon as you give notice, your manager surprises you with a generous counteroffer. What do you do?
Stories by Katherine Spencer Lee
The rise of online networking sites has made it easier than ever to connect with colleagues and learn about job openings. It's also part of a much larger trend in which more information about you may be available to anyone who's interested — including hiring managers, who often perform internet searches on job candidates.
Like every generation, Gen Y is subject to its share of myths and stereotypes as it enters the IT workforce. Sometimes painted as privileged, technology-obsessed individuals who avoid face-to-face interaction, Millennial workers actually have many basic needs in common with their more experienced colleagues, including recognition, constructive feedback, and a healthy relationship with one's boss. That said, there are some real differences in the communication styles of different generations.
If you're like many of your Generation Y colleagues, you prefer frequent communication with your boss. In fact, in a survey of more than 1,000 21-to-28-year-olds conducted by Robert Half International and Yahoo HotJobs, 60% of workers said they want to hear from their managers on a daily basis. Thirty-five percent of Millennials prefer to touch base with their supervisors several times a day. While Gen Y employees want to work autonomously, they like to know that they are on the right track.
Keeping the lines of communication open is a good thing for any IT department, but your manager may not be able to provide such fast and frequent feedback, especially if he oversees numerous people. Here are some time-tested communication tips that will help you enhance your relationship with your boss:
Be a "model" employee Study how your supervisor and other high-performing colleagues communicate in the workplace, and model these behaviours as appropriate. You can learn a lot by simply paying attention to office dynamics. Are meetings scheduled weeks in advance, or do they occur spontaneously? Does your manager use email a lot, or does he ask for status updates in person? Most successful IT teams and departments naturally develop their own style of communication over time; your goal should be to observe and adapt to the existing style.
State your style If you're unsure of what approach will be most effective, express your communication preferences and politely ask your boss to do the same. Chances are you'll find some common ground. Even if a demanding schedule prevents your supervisor from being as accessible as both of you would like, you can still come to an understanding about when — and how — to touch base.
Be all ears Especially among IT professionals, communicating well is often more about listening than talking. When speaking with your manager, be attentive and focus on what is being said instead of trying to formulate a response in your head. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification of points that remain unclear. By practicing active listening on the front end, you can significantly minimise the need for redundant follow-up conversations.
Voice concerns If you're not receiving the type or level of feedback you want, request a meeting with your boss. When you explain your concerns, make certain to note why you'd like more feedback — for example, to ensure that you're doing your part to keep a particular IT initiative on track, or so you can quickly make necessary adjustments. Work with your supervisor to devise practical ways to stay in touch, such as weekly check-in meetings or more frequent updates via email. Be prepared to accept a less-structured arrangement if that's what your manager prefers.
Get flexible At the end of the day, professionals of all ages need to adjust to the work styles of their supervisors. If that means no meetings on Mondays or an email blackout on Friday afternoons, so be it. Your smartest move is to communicate your needs while remaining amenable to suggestions and accepting of your manager's communication-related preferences and concerns.
For IT workers of any generation, a key to communicating well is not taking differences in style personally. If your boss seems less responsive when you stop by with questions than when you send an email, for example, don't take it as a personal slight. Instead, make a note of it and adjust your style accordingly. Adapting to what works, after all, is a style that professionals of all ages can agree on.
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Those looking to break into the IT industry — whether they are recent graduates or entry-level professionals, or are transitioning from another profession — often have the same initial question: Where do I start?
Most recent university graduates have probably received plenty of career-related advice from parents, friends and even people they hardly know after they graduated. One person may be encouraging you to pursue a position with a large, well-known firm, since having a recognised name on your resume could serve you well in the future. Someone else may feel that it’s best for you to apply for jobs at small companies where you could quickly advance your career. Confused about which fork in the road to take? Here’s some advice that’s virtually guaranteed to point you in the right direction:
The US Department of Labour’s Bureau of Labour Statistics reported a jump of more than 11% in IT employment from April to May. Also, research conducted by Robert Half Technology supports the notion that job growth will remain fairly robust. Our most recent IT Hiring Index and Skills Report indicates that 13% of US CIOs plan to add technology staff over the next three months, while only 3% anticipate cutbacks. The net 10% increase is up two percentage points from the previous forecast. It seems all signs point to brisk hiring in the IT field. However, some candidates are still having trouble finding a job.
New certifications continually emerge in the IT field. In fact, it sometimes appears that there is at least one for every available technology. As a result, many IT professionals wonder whether it’s worthwhile to pursue a designation and, if so, which one could best aid their career advancement. The answer varies: each credential has a unique cost — in terms of both money and effort — and the effect of earning one may not always be immediately apparent. Here are some considerations when weighing your certification options.
One of the last things many job seekers do before submitting a CV is tack on the perfunctory "References Available Upon Request" at the bottom of the document.
Acrobatic abilities weren’t listed as a requirement when you applied for your position as an IT manager. But the truth is that a strong sense of balance and the ability to juggle multiple priorities at once are characteristics that define the strongest supervisors.