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The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit

Book Description

Your complete guide to building your information technology career in any economy

The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit  features market-focused skills and proven methods you can use to jump-start and advance your career. While other books cover just the mechanics of preparing your résumé, writing a cover letter, and interviewing, this book provides all that plus additional insight from IT career development expert, Matt Moran, to help you plan and create a rewarding IT career over the long term.

The toolkit approach allows you to use this book to suit your unique needs:

  • Are you new to the IT field? Benefit by reading the book cover to cover.

  • Just need to fine-tune your IT career? Choose a topic and dive in.

  • Understand and prepare for the various and changing factors that affect your career in both positive and negative ways. Learn how to

  • Present the value of your technical skills in the job market

  • Position yourself as the primary commodity of your career

  • Remove the guesswork out of job searches

  • Highlight on-the-job skills and gain meaningful professional exposure 

  • The companion CD-ROM includes career management tools such as résumé and cover letter templates, forms to track important contacts, and self-assessment tools. Start or further your consulting career with sample proposals, opportunity tracking forms, and a time-tracking and billing database. Financial tools, including budget and cash-flow summary worksheets, help you gain financial well-being. Use the Value-Added Technologist presentation to gain a clear understanding of the career-building process and how to use the toolkit to build a dynamic career.

    Most of all, have fun! Every year, people advance along the path to career stardom. Let Matt help you to be one of them through his career philosophy “Do not accept mediocrity as a career objective–demand more of yourself.”

    “I want you to see the [toolkit] techniques as one more set of skills to adopt in your overall career development program. They are skills, just like your technical skills, that you will use daily during your career. Just as you adopt new technical skills, use the toolkit to define those soft skills that you must learn and put to use. The result will be a more well-rounded and complete professional skill-set.”

    ~ Matthew Moran, from the Introduction

    Companion CD-ROM

    The CD-ROM contains valuable tools, forms, spreadsheets, and documents that work with the Toolkit to help you master key areas of your career development.

    Table of Contents

    1. Copyright
      1. Dedication
    2. About the Author
    3. About the Technical Reviewers
    4. Acknowledgments
    5. Introduction
      1. Who Should Read This Book?
      2. How to Use the Toolkit
      3. What Is the Toolkit Approach to Career Development?
      4. How This Book Is Organized
        1. The Supplemental CD-ROM
    6. I. An Introduction to Career Building
      1. 1. The Toolkit Approach to Career Development
        1. Justifying the Need for an IT Toolkit
        2. Actions & Ideas
      2. 2. Career Building Defined
        1. The Danger of a Tool-Driven Mindset
        2. A Job Is Not a Career
          1. Perspectives on Career Development: Careers Are Nonlinear
          2. Perspectives on Career Development: A Working Plan Makes Tedious or Unrewarding Jobs Bearable
        3. Career Building Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
      3. 3. Information Technology: A Great Career
        1. Why IT Is a Great Career
          1. Options
          2. Performance-Based Advancement
          3. Opportunities for Continuous Learning
          4. Pay and Perks
        2. What About Outsourcing?
          1. Outsourcing Is About Value, Not Costs
          2. The Jobs That Won’t Be Outsourced
        3. Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
      4. 4. Defining Yourself: Aptitudes and Desires
        1. Considerations in Your Career Choice
          1. Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Needs
            1. Pay
            2. Insurance
            3. Training
            4. Commute and Travel Time
            5. Working Conditions (People, Culture, Environment, Hours)
            6. Future Growth Potential
          2. Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Desires
          3. Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Skills
        2. Beware: Analysis Paralysis
        3. Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
    7. II. Filling Your Toolkit
      1. 5. Self-Assessment
        1. The Power of Self-Assessment
        2. The Dangers of Self-Assessment
        3. Four Questions of Self-Assessment
          1. Where the Four Questions Came From
          2. Question 1: Do I Make My Employer’s Job Much Easier or Much More Difficult?
          3. Question 2: If I Gave Notice Today, Would My Employer Have an Instant Sense of Relief or Dread?
          4. Question 3: Do I Perform My Job Better Than My Employer Could Perform My Job If He/She Needed To?
          5. Question 4: If Asked How I Can Improve in My Job, Do I Cite External Factors—People and Resources—or Do I Take Responsibility?
        4. Conclusion: Making It Personal
        5. Actions & Ideas
      2. 6. Attitude
        1. The Effect of Attitude on Your Career
        2. Positive Mental Attitude
          1. PMA Is Not a Panacea
          2. PMA and a Plan
        3. Beware: Two Pitfalls of Attitude
          1. Unrealistic Expectations
          2. Skill Deficits
        4. The Role of Attitude
          1. What You Think of Your Employer
          2. The “Us Versus Them” Mentality
          3. Management Got There by Luck or Schmoozing, Alone
          4. Your Coworkers
          5. Humble Arrogance: The Attitude of Personal Value
          6. Ownership
          7. The Myth of the Self-Made Man
        5. Attitude Checks
        6. Conclusion
        7. Actions & Ideas
      3. 7. Communication Skills
        1. Defining Communication Skills
        2. The Benefit of Communication Skills: An Effective Communicator Is Viewed as More Intelligent
        3. Written Communications
          1. General Guidelines
          2. The Letter
          3. E-Mail
          4. The Well-Crafted Paragraph
          5. The Well-Crafted Page
        4. Verbal Communication
          1. Conversation
        5. Presentations and Training
          1. Don’t Wait Until You Are Asked to Speak to Learn This Vital Skill
          2. Cover No More Than Three to Five Main Points
          3. Work from an Outline, Not a Script
          4. Look at the Audience
        6. A Brief Note on Listening
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas
      4. 8. Technical Skills
        1. Your Technology Skills
        2. The Role of Learning
        3. The Fear of Obsolescence
        4. Another Perspective: Transcendent Skills
        5. Reducing the Parts
        6. Tips to Speed Up the Learning Process
          1. Start with Concepts
          2. Don’t Study What You Know
          3. Don’t Worry About Catching the Latest Trend
          4. Focus on Solutions, Not Technology
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas
      5. 9. The Cover Letter
        1. The Purpose of Your Cover Letter
        2. Three Vital Ingredients in Your Cover Letter
          1. Gratitude for the Opportunity
          2. A Significant Accomplishment
          3. Your Interest in Becoming a Producer
        3. Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
      6. 10. The Résumé
        1. Your Ambassador to the Professional World
        2. The Purpose of Your Résumé
        3. Determining Who Is Looking at Your Résumé
          1. Busy Employers
          2. Disinterested Employers
        4. Résumé Basics
          1. Length: Brevity Is Key
          2. No Paragraphs
          3. Bulleted Lists
          4. Documenting Your Professional Experience
          5. A Note About Certifications/Degrees on Your Résumé
          6. Guidelines for Writing Your Résumé
        5. Conclusion
        6. Actions & Ideas
    8. III. Putting Your Toolkit to Use
      1. 11. Breaking into IT
        1. Correcting Perception
        2. IT Happens Outside of IT
        3. Other Avenues into IT
          1. Ask for What You Want
          2. Ask for Advice
        4. Conclusion
        5. Actions & Ideas
      2. 12. Building an Active Contact List
        1. Enjoy People
        2. Develop a Personality
        3. Have Other Areas of Interest
        4. Engage in Conversation
        5. Track and Remember Your Contacts
        6. Share Opportunity
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas
      3. 13. The Job Search
        1. Getting What You Want Requires Wanting Something
        2. Defining the Job Search
        3. Remember: Looking for Work Is Work
        4. The Toolkit Approach to Finding a Job
        5. Job Search Outline
        6. A Job Search Comparison
          1. Method 1: The Standard “Passive” Job Search
          2. Method 2: The Proactive Job Search
          3. Method 1 Versus Method 2
          4. A Word About the Out-of-Town Search
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas
      4. 14. The Interview
        1. Practice Your Interview Skills
          1. Be Prepared to Answer Difficult Questions
            1. What Professional Accomplishment Are You Most Proud Of?
            2. What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength? Greatest Weakness?
            3. Why Are You Leaving Your Last Job?
            4. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
        2. After the Interview
        3. Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
      5. 15. Salary Negotiations and Employment Agreements
        1. Start Early
        2. Know What You Want
        3. Understand the Employer’s Perspective
        4. Be Creative
        5. Be Firm
        6. Your Worth to the Company
        7. Negotiations Never Fail
        8. Be Flexible
        9. Employment Agreements
          1. Seek Legal Counsel
          2. Assumptions
          3. Deliverables
          4. Bonuses and Performance Perks
        10. Conclusion
        11. Actions & Ideas
      6. 16. On-the-Job Promotion
        1. On the Job
        2. Maintaining and Building Your Network
        3. Identifying Areas for Success
        4. Attitude
        5. Working for a Tyrant and Other Joys
        6. Determine Whether Your Boss’s Actions Are Personality or Personal
        7. Understand That People Are “Where They Are”
        8. Take an Objective Path to Evaluating What They Say
        9. Handling Criticism
          1. Determine Whether What Someone Is Saying Is True
          2. Determine Whether It Is Something You Need to Change
          3. Talk to Someone About a Behavior
          4. Don’t Swallow Your Pride—Control It
        10. Conclusion
        11. Actions & Ideas
    9. IV. More Options to Build Your Career
      1. 17. The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home
        1. Careers That Lend Themselves to Telecommuting
        2. The Benefits for the Employee
        3. The Benefits for the Employer
        4. The Concerns for the Employee
        5. The Concerns for the Employer
        6. Conclusion: Next Steps
        7. Keys to Successful Telecommuting
          1. Project-Based/Free-Agent Mindset
          2. Apply Discipline
          3. Clear Expectations
          4. Technologies for the Telecommuter
            1. VPNs
            2. IM Services
          5. Resources for the Home Worker
        8. Conclusion
        9. Actions & Ideas
      2. 18. The Toolkit Approach to Consulting
        1. The Consulting Life
        2. The Benefits
          1. Respect
          2. Schedule
          3. Exciting Projects
          4. Compensation
        3. The Pitfalls
          1. Business Planning: Taxes, Legal
          2. Billing
            1. Current Workload
            2. Inaccurate Records
          3. Trading Time for Dollars
          4. Schedule
          5. Ongoing Marketing
            1. Ideas on Getting Published
            2. The Process of Getting Published
        4. Resources for the Consultant
        5. CD-ROM Materials for the Consultant
        6. Conclusion
        7. Actions & Ideas
      3. 19. The Move to Management
        1. Leadership
        2. Process and Time Management
        3. Critical Skills You Need Now
          1. Presentation and Meeting Skills
          2. Team-Building Skills
            1. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
            2. Promote Your Team and Its Members
            3. Foster an Environment That Allows for (Even Celebrates) Failure
            4. Create a Project/Contract Mentality with Those You Report to and Those Who Report to You
        4. Conclusion
        5. Actions & Ideas
    10. V. The Value-Added Technologist
      1. 20. Make Yourself Indispensable
        1. A Word About Value
        2. Being Proactive
        3. Understanding Technology’s Role in the Organization
        4. Maintain a Business-First Mentality
        5. Create Standards, Automation, or a Programmer’s Toolkit
        6. Create a Peer Knowledge Network
        7. Be Known As the Go-To Resource
        8. Be Ready and Willing to Take on the Necessary Responsibility
        9. Have Experts You Call On for Your Organization
        10. Be Passionate About Something!
        11. Never Blame, and Always Have a Corrective Plan
        12. Adopt Concept Over Process
        13. Conclusion
        14. Actions & Ideas
      2. 21. Concept Over Process
        1. What to Expect
        2. What Not to Expect
        3. COP Objectives
        4. COP Origins
        5. What Is a Process-Driven Mindset?
          1. The Role of Technology
            1. Role 1: Storage and Retrieval of Information
            2. Role 2: The Automation of Delivery of Product or Service
        6. Moving from Process Driven to Concept Driven
          1. A Concentric View
          2. A Note About Time
          3. Developing Proactive Solutions
          4. A Warning/Suggestion
          5. COP Is Not About Technology!
          6. Start with the Goal of Business
          7. Understand Your Objective as an Employee
          8. What About Mission Statements?
          9. From Goal to Analysis
          10. Understand the Industry
          11. Understand the Business: The Organization’s Role in Its Industry
          12. Understand the Workflow
          13. Understand the Relationships: Interactions/Dependencies
          14. Workflow Analysis
          15. Project Definition
            1. Myth of Limitation
            2. What If?
            3. Congruencies, Incongruencies, and Omissions
              1. Congruencies: What Currently Works
              2. Incongruencies: What Currently Does Not Work
              3. Omissions: What Is Currently Excluded or Not Addressed at All
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas
      3. 22. The Role of Mentoring
        1. Mentor Characteristics
        2. Mentoring Others
          1. What Qualifies Me as a Mentor?
          2. The Role of Mentor Is Not a Power Position
            1. Encourage and Stretch
            2. Point to Other Mentors or Resources
        3. Conclusion
        4. Actions & Ideas
      4. 23. Financial Control
        1. The Impact of Finances on Career Building
        2. Financial Control Creates Options
        3. Financial Control Is Largely Mental
        4. Money Is a Tool
        5. Debt and Spending
        6. Some Basics of Financial Planning and Stability
          1. Defining a Basic Budget
            1. Defining Your Core Needs
            2. Establishing Your Spending History
          2. Creating Your Budget
          3. Cash Flow Summary: A Weekly Plan
        7. Conclusion
        8. Actions & Ideas