Next move: Getting beyond the helpdesk

The problem:I have worked in IT for four years. For the first 18 months I worked as a network operator providing first-level...

The problem:I have worked in IT for four years. For the first 18 months I worked as a network operator providing first-level support and diagnostics for the wide area network and distributed SNA network.

I have no outright technical skills, but I have broad knowledge of technologies and leadership and problem management skills. I have tried several recruitment agencies and scoured the technical press for suitable vacancies. I do not want to perform a helpdesk function, as the function I perform is already at a higher level. What should I do?

The answer:
First of all, don't be so hard on yourself. You have four years' commercial IT experience, which puts you way above a lot of other people.

List the strengths you have and the technical skills you have gained and decide which ones you enjoy most. You want to be happy in what you do, so choose something you like. It is also worth finding out whether your current employer has opportunities to move internally, allowing you to specialise in a particular technology.

When you have decided which area you feel would help you most and make you happiest, focus on working towards your goal. It may not happen within a week but you are already in a job so you can afford to wait until the perfect role comes along.

It would seem that you have never had the chance to specialise in any one technology but have an overall view of how things work and fit together. Combined with your project management and team-leading skills, this makes you more valuable. What you have to realise is that although you could not call yourself a specialist in, say, AS/400 or SNA networks, companies do not always want this.

The other option is to stay where you are and continue in the field of problem management with a view to taking on a more project-based role. Project management could be what you have been waiting for. Speak to your current employer to find out what the opportunities are. If you do not like your options, think about moving on. But be sure you are not making a jump from the frying pan into the fire.
Solution provided by Richard Herring, Reed Technology Group

The panel: MSB International, Best International, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK

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