From The Editor: This Should Be Your Top One Professional Quality

You’ve done the homework. You’ve sharpened your skills, oriented your compass, and landed a job in IT. Now what? If hard-skills alone don’t guarantee professional success, then what does? If you find yourself asking these questions, this article is for you.

We, IT professionals, are quite objective in our way of thinking.

if (me.IsSkilled) {
    bool isEmployed = employer.Hire(me);

    while (isEmployed) {
        isHired = employer.Likes(me);

The strategy above would be perfect if programmers ran the world. But, unfortunately, we don’t (at least most of us are not aware that, in fact, we do). Thus, it’s vital to explore a practical strategy to advance in our careers.


Your top priority, which is also at the core of your career advancement strategy, is to assume full personal responsibility and own your career. To succeed in your professional endeavors, you need to acknowledge that you are solely responsible for your success. That’s precisely what corporate climbers are doing! But, what does that mean, exactly? Well, who’s responsible for convincing your boss that you are the right person for that job? The answer is one: you! You must showcase your diverse and specialized skills in order to be recognized as a potential candidate.


Many IT professionals often settle for the basic workplace life in hopes of advancement: corporate politics, personal marketing, networking (not even the cool, routing and switching one), and all that comes with it. However, as much as we enjoy spending time with our code, we also have the opportunity to attend social gatherings and other people-oriented activities that are sometimes outside of our comfort zone. Inevitably, those who go the extra mile, and explore such social opportunities to promote themselves, get noticed. As a result, they are more likely to ascend faster in their careers.


As we all notice every now and again, many of those who climb up the corporate ladder aren’t always the most technically qualified. Yet, they’ve made it. How?! Why was the average programmer promoted, while the excellent one remains where he is? Why did the good data analyst get that new position, while the outstanding one is still stuck in hers? Those who climb the corporate ladder have taken the personal initiative to participate in special projects that go beyond their regular job. Such actions have helped them to gain greater visibility within the organization and position themselves as valuable and often indispensable team players.


The other important element to understand is how organizations value merit. Surprisingly, meritocracy isn’t a trendy concept nowadays. In fact, this very idea is in constant deconstruction and has become fairly subjective, depending on whom you ask. This is quite frustrating, not just for programmers, but for all rational employees who do their very best for the organization, hoping that they will rise based on excellence! Unfortunately, logical brains don’t usually do well in highly ambiguous environments. Now that you know this, it’s time to give some merit to a different navigation scheme.


Communication is the first step. Your direct manager, and those above him or her, have to know you are looking to grow in the organization. Have open conversations with them, and ask what you need to do, achieve, or become to get to the next level. Vague and generic responses are unacceptable in this conversation. You need clear and objective information to calibrate your compass and strategize your career moves. If you don’t clearly see where you want to go, don’t just assume life will eventually figure itself out. It’s a competitive world, and those who make it didn’t get there by chance.


In case you fail to obtain concrete answers in this conversation, it might be time for a more honest talk. It is a huge red flag if all you can get is evasive answers – it means they might not have a plan for you. Again, it’s your responsibility to make sure your career goals are communicated to and acknowledged by management.

In well-run companies, there are frequent one-on-one meetings to discuss performance and career goals. You should actively participate in such conversations to showcase your skills, contributions, and career ambitions. There is also a possibility that you may meet an honest and competent leader who understands the value of talent to build a great organization. If you don’t have these meetings in your current job, there is no reason why you should avoid this conversation. Be proactive in approaching your manager to get the discussion started.

In Conclusion

Regardless of where you are in the vast IT world, everyone needs a strategy to move forward. Do not expect recognition to come out of nowhere. Your success is your responsibility, and nobody else’s! A combination of responsibility, initiative, effective communication, social engagement, and professional work can serve you well to create a personal brand and strategy for advancement. And, if you don’t get organizational support and recognition that you need to get to the next level, or discover that you are in the wrong place, it’s time to leave after finding a company that values your talent. The options are virtually endless, especially in IT. In the end, remaining in complete control of where your life goes is something that should never be delegated to others. This is your life to own, so own it like you mean it.