Make more moolah this year

Another year of milestones and launches, and what do you have to show for it?

A rekindled resolve to make your career in IT more worth your while this year in terms of the pay you take home.

A rekindled resolve to make your career in IT more worth your while this year in terms of the pay you take home.

Sure, there have been upticks in pay for IT pros since the downturn, as the 2007 InfoWorld Compensation Survey attests. And yes, projections by analysts such as Robert Half Technology suggest brighter days ahead for some of your tech cohorts. But who is content with playing the law of averages when it comes to compensation?Especially as the art of cashing in on added responsibility requires more than just the desire to earn more money.

Especially as reports from analysts such as Goldman Sachs, JMP Securities, and ChangeWave “indicate that credit crunch and fears of a possible recession have convinced IT execs to rein in spending in 2008,” as InfoWorld blogger Bill Snyder noted in a recent post.And everyone knows what executive budget anxiety means. Yet another increase in outsourcing — and in particular, offshoring, which 2007 InfoWorld Compensation Survey results suggest will reach a tipping point in 2008, with more companies tapping offshore labor than not this year.The time to marshal your plan for raking in more dough is now. Here, you will find a wealth of valuable InfoWorld resources to help make your career in IT more rewarding in 2008.

Project management pays

For the nearly one in three tech workers concerned about job security, Snyder serves up worthwhile advice on avoiding jobs ripe for outsourcing in 2008: Hone your project management skills.”Jobs that combine business-savvy with technical expertise will remain; purely technical positions are vulnerable,” writes Snyder, whose Tech’s Bottom Line blog takes a financial tack in navigating IT.But if spearheading a project this year is the best means for bagging a promotion or raise, how best to get your hands on one?

Here, Dan Tynan’s advice is timeless: Hold your nose and raise your hand by volunteering for projects nobody else wants to do and then excelling at them. Tynan’s ” 20 ways to get promoted in the tech industry” is rife with get-ahead nuggets, chief among them the need to raise the bar and leave it there, as consistency in overachievement reaps more rewards than does excelling in fits and starts.

Take the torch, but don’t get burned

For those hoping to cash in on heading up a project in 2008, forewarned is forearmed: Taking project management responsibility without authority and just saying yes to expanding requirements are two of IT’s seven deadly career sins.”The current corporate obsession with project management is nothing more than a realization that here is a great place to stick people with no technical or personnel management skills and get them to take the blame for failures,” security consultant Robert Ferrell says in the aforementioned career sins article.

Thus, defining your 2008 breakout project on your terms is essential, lest talks with your boss about taking on more responsibility result in you being saddled with a losing proposition.

As important will be avoiding the pitfall of resorting to prior solutions when tackling your new challenge, as former InfoWorld CTO Chad Dickerson advises in ” Top 20 IT mistakes to avoid.”Every project presents its own set of challenges, Dickerson writes, and stepping into the spotlight without the ability to increase your arsenal of ideas and methodologies will be a one-way ticket to high-profile embarrassment.

Make more by moving on

But for some, the thought of contributing above and beyond the already above-and-beyond requirements of an employer that just doesn’t get the value of IT is enough to put “new job” atop the list of this year’s resolutions.

After all, as the 2007 InfoWorld Compensation Survey found, executive management’s perception of the value of IT is the worst in years, thanks in large part to perpetually stingy budgets and expense-minded approaches to IT.

Thankfully, with analysis such as Robert Half Technology’s supporting 2007 InfoWorld Compensation Survey findings that the IT job market looks relatively healthy going forward, there are outlets for the more than one in four of you likely to be combing the classifieds this year.Differentiating yourself from the pack of prospects, however, will be your biggest challenge. InfoWorld contributor Bob Lewis emphasizes the “six Ps” — product, price, place, promotion, production, and people — in becoming your own IT career coach, an approach he suggests will help you capitalize on worthwhile opportunities.

Market your skills

Lewis — whose Advice Line blog regularly doles out expert career insights ranging from dealing with bad bosses, to making the most of multiple opportunities, to negotiating salary, and exiting a job gracefully — notes that getting your foot in the door is a matter of defining exactly what you do best and finding a marketplace where those services are in short supply.And once you have a bead on 2008’s dream job, Nick Corcodilos advises thinking like an investment banker by taking a profit-minded approach to interviewing.

Corcodilos, a tech headhunter, provides advice on convincing managers to take a chance on you, how to beat low-cost competition for a job, when to take a pay cut, and how to deal with difficult questions from prospective employers regularly in his Ask the Headhunter blog.

“The reason people fail in most interviews is they’re interviewing for the wrong jobs,” Corcodilos says. And in advising you to not chase job listings, Corcodilos points out that what is hot in the IT job market is ephemeral; what matters most is becoming the best at what you are good at.

“Being hot means you will watch the market go up and down, while your talents go in just one direction: up,” Corcodilos writes in a recent blog post.

Brush up and avoid burnout

Of course, keeping current on cutting-edge technologies can’t hurt, especially as the call for broad IT skill sets will only grow louder in the coming year.

Taking a practical approach to bringing new technologies such as AJAX development in-house will not only show management you are keen on remaining relevant in the years to come but will also send a message: Grow with me, or I will find an employer better suited to my career needs.

Here, that old saw, training, can never be overemphasized.

“If spending $2K now means a $20K bump down the road, that’s a pretty good return on investment,” David Blair says, referring to personal investments in cutting-edge training in Tynan’s ” 20 ways to get promoted in the tech industry.”

Besides, making a commitment to keep on top of skills trends in 2008 will widen your net beyond the scope of traditional IT shops, to the once-again lucrative, though always risky startup job market.And for those whose end-of-the-year reflections bummed them out with the thought of another year overworked in IT, heed Lewis’ advice on dealing with burnout when you return to work:”Tomorrow, see if you’re capable of putting in an intense productive workday. If you can, then you’re de-motivated. If you can’t, then you’re suffering from some level of burnout.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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