Six Quick Projects for IT Career Advancement

Want to move ahead? These simple tips will help you maximize your ROI on everything from management to hiring practices to job changes and more.

While researching 20 Things You Can Do In 20 Minutes to Be More Successful at Work, our staff found so many good ideas that we went over the number we set for ourselves.

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20 Things You Can Do In 20 Minutes to Be More Successful

So here are six more things you can do in just 20 minutes that can have a meaningful, positive effect on your IT organization, your career, your technology knowledge, your management skills and your relationship with the business.

In Praise of Praise

"IT has a lot of risky projects and activities, and many don't go as well as planned," says KeyBank CIO Steve Yates.

For many IT executives, that's (unfortunately) an understatement. IT staffers are usually the first to hear about failures and the last to get credit for success. But CIOs can change that. "People work to be appreciated, not just paid," says Yates. Expressing your appreciation isn't about taking employees out to lunch or giving them bonuses (although the stomach and wallet are tried and true ways to employees' hearts), but honesty from the boss, leavened with compassion, is the coin of the realm when it comes to rewarding reports. Yates suggests taking 20 minutes every Monday morning or Friday afternoon to write down your staff's accomplishments—or lack thereof—from the last week. Then walk over and, face to face, thank the people who made good things happen or try to figure out why they did not.

"People want to know what's happening and why," Yates says. "Good performance feedback is a necessity." Yates says people simply do not do their best when working for bosses they don't trust.

-Al Sacco

The Upside of Vanity

Eighty-three percent of executive recruiters use search engines to learn about candidates, according to an ExecuNet survey. Forty-three percent of recruiters have eliminated candidates for jobs based on information they found about the candidates online. So it behooves you to conduct regular searches of your full name on the Web to find out what if anything is being said about you, say Kirsten Dixson and William Arruda, personal branding consultants and authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand.

If you find negative information, Dixson and Arruda recommend trying to have it cleaned up or removed. "If you can't," they say, "add your own positive content alongside it and let readers draw their own conclusions."

And while you're messing about online, establish a profile on a social networking site. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Ziggs are excellent ways to create or expand one's online identity and network at the same time, say Dixson and Arruda. "To get the most out of these sites, make sure your content is consistent across all of your profiles and matches your résumé," they say.

-Meridith Levinson

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