My colleague David Johnson wrote a good blog earlier in the week on ‘Your Best Chance for Long-Term Employability as an I&O Professional’in which he discussed the key areas that I&O Professionals should focus on for employability. This and the recent wash of articles, especially in the UK, in regards to the IT skills gap got me thinking about the IT market from an employment perspective. With the various pressures facing I&O Professionals it is more important than ever to have a personal career plan which focusses on your career aspirations or at the very least a personal career vision.

I think one of the important aspects of this personal career vision is to have a clear understanding of the type of I&O organization that you would like to work for. Why? Well, in the same way in which a business selects the right candidate, it is important that that I&O Professionals select the right company which will help in their long term career vision. With this, I would like put forward the idea that, as I&O Professionals, we should be looking for certain organizational ‘career accelerating qualities’ during the recruitment process. My initial list is below and you may not find an organization which meets all these qualities but some will be more important to your personal career plan than others.

  1. A strong I&O vision linked to the overall business mission – I would look to assess this by asking the interviewer(s) for both the overall business mission with a view to clarifying whether the I&O vision is in harmony with this. Put simply this will help you get a feel for how integrated and thus how important I&O is to the business.
  2. A clear I&O strategy which links to the business strategy – This takes the above point and adds more evidence on whether I&O is seen as an enabler /partner to business strategy. Ideally, all the interviewers should be able to give you a clear long term definition of how the I&O/IT strategy is key to business success. It is important that this is not just from a “supporting the needs of the business perspective”.
  3. A work culture that understands the demands that a global/always on enterprise has on an I&O Professional‘s personal life – Businesses moving to a “Always On” culture will impact our social life more and more. It is important then that the potential employer is addressing this challenge and simply, the benefits package offered should take into account all the different life stages of its employees. Granted work from home policies do not work for some industries but for the majority technology innovation has made this possible.
  4. An I&O organization structure that promotes partnership with the business – I&O organization structure is currently a major focus area for many I&O clients at Forrester. The structure should, from a simple perspective, contain roles that show how I&O proactively links to the business.
  5. A true customer centric approach to I&O service delivery – This should not purely be about the number of ITIL processes adopted or the number of certified ITIL professionals in the organization. It is important to ask during the recruitment process about how the I&O organization ensures they are meeting the requirements of their IT customers and how this is measured.  
  6. A number of innovative examples of how the I&O organization has proactively helped with business objectives –Assess whether the interviewer(s) are just paying lip service to how I&O works with the business (point 1 and 2). It is important to also ask for examples and how I&O has marketed this success.
  7. A projected career path which includes commitment to internal and external training – A businesses success is the sum of its employees. There needs to be clear commitment on how the business will support your career aspirations from a training perspective. Yes, this is costly to the business but is important because you will invest commitment in them and the business must invest commitment in you. Internal training is great but this should also be backed up with formal, external training depending on the role.    
  8. A clear, frequent, employee review process that rewards actual contribution to the I&O strategy rather than just “Who you know” – Review processes have frustrated me greatly in my working life so far as they are often seen as an ‘administrative’ task rather than being critical to employee satisfaction and performance.During the recruitment process all the interviewer(s) should be able to describe the review process and its benefits clearly.
  9. A number of formal/informal I&O employee case studies – The reputation of a business, from an employment perspective, is best understood directly from the employees who currently work there and from those who have left. There are many websites on the internet which can help you understand this but during the interview process I would also ask to speak to current employees or at least ask to see some employee case studies.
  10. A number of examples of how the company rewards their employees for their commitment to the business – I would define commitment as hard work and loyalty. It would be easy to say that reward simply comes from remuneration but this should not be the only way. The recruitment process, from a business perspective, is usually very costly so how the company rewards commitment, other than remuneration should be clear.  No, it can’t just be a watch after x years’ service!

This list is not extensive and I doubt you would find all of these qualities.  You may even argue that an organization that is missing these qualities presents an opportunity for you but I would love to hear your thoughts and ‘career accelerating qualities’ you would recommend?