Advise this IT generalist on how to jump start his career

TechRepublic member kilbey1 wrote a new post titled "Frustrated by being a generalist" in the TechRepublic forums. Kilbey1 is an IT veteran who started as a Web designer and HTML programmer and has served in a number of development and administrator roles since then, but kilby1 has some career discontent:
"Despite having been doing something in technology for over 10 years, I only have a smattering of lots of different things. I am a decent designer; I can do development on an intermediate level (not much OOP but some); capable of doing analysis; have experience in database management at an intermediate level; my linux and windows 2003 server administration is at a passable level; and my manual QA testing is at least competent. But I truly feel as if I'm not where I should be in 10+ years time.

Do I need to take a step back and pursue one avenue? Should I reassess my skill set and start hammering away in one area? Should I try to move into project management? Or am I being too unrealistic."

I'd recommend that kelby1 make a list of high-level goals (e.g. land an engaging job, make $65K/year, move into management, etc.) and look at which career paths can help meet those goals, and then match up those potential career paths with personal strengths, skills, and interests. Dedicate yourself to becoming the best at whatever you chose. What would you recommend kelby1 do to get his career moving in the right direction? Don't respond to this post, but join the original discussion.


Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.


I wrote an article recently that defines how an IT professional can jump-start his or her career. You can read it here: or in its entirety here: --------------------------------------- You have been job hunting for months and you are "THE GURU" in within your market niche, but no one is biting. The savings account is shrinking (along with your ego) and the bills are starting to pile up on that corner of your desk you find increasingly hard to look at. "What is wrong with me?!" you ask yourself. The truth is, nothing is wrong with you and the market is just not looking to hire someone with your skill set and experience. You are now encroached within a very dangerous mindset: "I will make them want to hire me! Just you wait and see!" The honest facts are that you will be waiting on their terms and until the market is ready to start hiring people with your skill set and experience. The best thing you can do is to unhinge that bunkered down mentality and start becoming more creative in your approach to job hunting (disclaimer: "creative" as it applies to this article does not endorse fabricating lies to boost your marketability!). What kind of professional animal are you? There are cheetahs (lots of them, just look around). They think of themselves as fast (burners) and rule the land for as far as they can run. True, some people are indeed cheetahs but most are only dressed as cheetahs, just look behind their head, at the nape of their neck - see the zipper? There are also a lot of gazelles and they can spring over almost any obstacle that comes their way, just make sure the "rock" or "wall" isn't too high, lest they hit it. Then, there are the turtles (we won't go into that subject for now, it is an entirely different article which we will explore down the road). Each of these professional "animals", yes, even the turtle, warrant great merit and provide dedicated service to our economy. But, what you will notice (at least I do!) is that nowhere do you find the rarest of creature in a corporate environment: The unique and wonderful platypus. It is a remarkable animal and exudes features of many different kinds of animal without losing its own uniqueness. THAT is exactly how a professional animal can survive in these volatile times - become a platypus! We're not really advocating that you turn yourself into a real platypus but in order to save your well-being, it is imperative that you look in the mirror (right now) and notice the different professional "features" (i.e. skills) you possess; I call them "differentiating skills" and they lay diagonal to your primary skills: [See Figure 1 @] As you can see, the "differentiation strategy" approach can support a myriad of combinations, try it and see if you can find your career differentiators. [See Figure 2 @] With your resume in front of you, extract all skills into primary and secondary skills. Primary skills fit on the vertical axis and secondary skills fit on the diagonal axis. Differentiating skills (skills between primary and secondary) fall on the diagonal axis. The results should afford you with the opportunity to see alternative routes you can take in your job search. Clarity is an eye-opener and coupled with necessity (i.e. salary) it becomes the "mother of invention" with 20/20 eyesite! Your ability to kick-start your career with a new job in a field related to your primary skills can be very rewarding. To find out more about, "Differential Strategy" and how you can use this concept in your job hunting, please contact us at Trackback:

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