Next move: Consult the experts on your career

The question:Independent career guidance

The question:Independent career guidance


Is there such a thing as an independent IT career consultant? It would be very beneficial for people in IT to seek independent advice on their career progression, but the career consultants I find in IT employment agencies can be biased when giving advice.

The solution:
It is impossible to be unbiased

Like any advisors, career consultants are only as good as the experience and knowledge they have. You will see that in my response to your question this is true of me too.

The IT industry is not clearly structured with neat role descriptions and levels, although with the advent of SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) and CareerSpace (role descriptions for people in the sector) we are slowly moving in that direction.

However, the IT industry will never be as clearly structured as, say, law or medicine. It is very hard therefore for a consultant or advisor to plot a course for you without being biased by their own background - however independent they are, it is tough to know all the options.

I used a career consultant a number of years ago and found that what they were able to do to great effect is look at my skills and experience as a prospective employer might. This was very helpful in assisting me to be honest about what my strengths were and what I needed to improve on or admit that I would never be any good at.

This coaching also made it clear to me that a pure IT career is a rare thing. Most people in the industry work in the context of another sector, be it banking, retail, government or whatever. Even the deepest back-office team needs to be cognisant of the business it is in. I would argue that your value as an IT professional will be measured, at least in part, by your understanding of the sector you are in. So maybe you are asking too much of your advisors.

Which technology will emerge over the next few years is anyone's guess; the people who get that right will make lots of money. One of the fun aspects of IT is the unpredictability and constant change. The need is and will continue to be for people who know the technology and understand its business application, whatever their job title.
  • Solution by Terry Watts, E-Skills UK

  • 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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If you are an IT professional who is looking for advice on your next career move, put your question to our panel of experts at cwxtra@rbi.co.uk. Regrettably, owing to the volume of requests, we are unable to print solutions to every question.

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