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.

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What Am I Doing Here?

Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog advises professionals on getting ahead in the corporate world with unusual candor. (One of her more popular posts is "Make life more stable with more frequent job changes.")

Here's Trunk's advice for 20 minutes' worth of activities to advance your career:

  • Decide what's most important to succeeding in your job—and toss the rest. "If you feel like you're being pulled in many directions, you haven't figured out the most important people to pay attention to. You have to decide who gets your attention and how that fits into your priorities," Trunk says.
  • Once you have your priorities set and clearly stated, let others know what they are, without apology. While a VP of sales has one job—sell—a CIO may have many masters spread across an organization, all seeking different things. That dynamic makes it all the more important to establish your agenda and make it known. "You have to be able to say, 'I didn't return your call because it's not a priority,'" says Trunk. "'Call another department.'"
  • Trunk believes in the look-honestly-in-the-mirror school of career coaching. Not everyone is meant to be an astronaut, or CIO or CEO. By this stage in your career, you've taken a personality test or two (think Myers-Briggs) to help you understand whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, a details person or a visionary. This is important when you feel you have hit a wall in your pursuit of advancement.

So assess your strengths, not just in performance, but in your character. Be honest. "The most valuable thing we do is to find work suited to our personality," says Trunk.

-Michael Goldberg

Encrypt Now or Regret Later!

The next time one of your employees or contractors loses a notebook PC and it turns into a horrific data breach and PR nightmare, what are you going to say to your CEO when he asks why you hadn't encrypted the company's notebooks? That won't be fun, will it? So start investigating today's more manageable and affordable encryption options.

"A lost PC without encryption is truly getting caught with your pants down," says Forrester Research senior analyst Natalie Lambert. "However, you would be surprised at the number of businesses that have not encrypted their mobile devices."

Price used to be a concern, but encryption technology has become practically a commodity item, Lambert says. For advice from CIOs who've already encrypted their mobile fleets, see "How to Lock Up Laptop Security."

-Laurianne McLaughlin

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