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The IT Career Builder's Toolkit, Chapter 16: On-the-Job Promotion

Identifying Areas for Success

I'll say it again—careers seldom happen by accident. In fact, accidents are usually mistakes with painful consequences. Don't build a career by accident. Take control of your career direction and its future success.

One way to help achieve more success is to identify projects that have a high probability of success. During the course of your work, you will be asked to perform your standard duties. However, additional projects always come up. The day-to-day tasks you perform are the expected elements of your career. Such tasks are why you are there. Although you might be recognized as effective at your given tasks, to dramatically accelerate your career, you need more.

It is critical that you take on some of the additional projects that are not being done. In doing this, you need to identify those projects that will garner respect, have a high profile, and require you to learn new skills.

I won't lie. There are risks involved. When you take on such a project, you expose yourself to the possibility of failure. For me, that has always been an easy task. I've always believed I could take on projects and make them successful. I'm willing to chance the possibility of failure. Without it, the chance of great success is also limited.

As you work to identify which projects you should volunteer for, keep in mind the following:

  • Select areas of interest— To maximize both the experience gained on the project and the chance of success, attempt to find projects that will stretch you in an area that you are willing to go. For example, if you would like to know more about scripting for automated desktop configuration, get involved with a project that utilizes some of those tools.Your chances for success increase greatly when you are emotionally vested in the process. Not only do you stand to put a nice professional feather in your cap, but you also will be learning another skill for your toolkit. This has the effect of keeping you interested in more than just the completed project, but the learning process, too.
  • The makeup of the team— Undertake projects in which the team members can be trusted to do their part. If you are involved in a project that involves several members, make sure you know the skills and interest of those members. Although you might be vested in the project and the process, it is possible that others were placed on the project against their will.If team members are not truly career-minded, they will have little interest in the project's success. This can be the kiss of death for a project.
  • The tools you need— A project team must have the tools to put its project in place. If you see a project developing, but management has not truly bought into the idea, beware. You need to make sure that management has the same vision and desire for the project to succeed. If specialized tools are needed for the project, make sure management has agreed to acquire them.It is not out of line to put in writing your expectation of how the project will work. As part of this document, include the assumptions and predicated factors that impact the project. Although it is good to work at maximum capacity with and beyond your skill set and take on varied projects, you also must be up front with what you expect from management.