Career Coach is a column that gives IT professionals a chance to pose questions about training, certification, salaries or any other career-related issues to eWEEKs panel of IT managers, hiring and training experts.
Below are previous Career Coach questions; click on them to read our experts answers.
Dear Career Coach: How would you recommend a small business owner hire his first IT employee and start building an IT department? While I feel comfortable defining the scope of the projects that we would like to accomplish over the next three years, I do not feel that I have the technical skills to qualify a candidate. As the owner of a small business with approximately 50 employees that is growing and expects to employ 150 in 12 months, I have historically assumed the responsibilities of application development, network management, and systems management… While I do have an undergraduate MIS degree, these functions are not my primary responsibilities; nor do I feel have the current technical skills appropriate to the task. Our growth requires bringing IT professionals in-house. So how does a small business owner bridge the great divide between IT professionals who are seeking career opportunities and those of us out here in the small business community that need to bring them onboard? --Greg Watson
Dear Career Coach: I am a professionally trained programmer (C++, VB, COM) with a Project Management Professional certification and a bachelors degree in computer science. I have been groomed through the ranks, beginning with small development projects and progressing to larger, more complex enterprise projects. Recently, I was laid off. In my new job search, I have noticed that HR staff do not appreciate the combined experience that comes with project management experience and development skills. My concern is whether I should drop one skill set my résumé and job search. Development houses dont care if you have project skills. Management teams think that you dont have enough management skill if you have technical info on your résumé. Whats your advice? --Wes Tapp
Dear Career Coach: I am an application development manager who has been doing 95 percent of my bosss (the CTOs) job since Ive been hired over a year now. While the company replaced my first incompetent boss with a second, neither my title nor pay has improved. How can I prove what responsibility I actually had and hence how much success I am responsible for? I am tempted to inflate my formal title on my resume to the role I actually did and then explain myself at the interview, but that may seem dishonest. --Anonymous
Dear Career Coach: I am 53 years old and have had extensive experience in customer service over the span of my career, most recently in the airline industry until 9/11. I will be going for certification in A+/NET+/MCSE from a technology school. What are my chances of getting into the industry at a decent salary? Eventually I would like to concentrate on security. --Wes
Dear Career Coach: I have a 10+ year background in a variety of IT specialties. I utilize various skills to complete multiple types of IT duties (DBA, systems administrator, project management, programming, etc.) each day. I define this as a "whole picture" specialist, good at many things, not the expert at one thing. Why would management push me to choose a specific specialty? How do I explain my "whole picture" value in a manner that technical and non-technical management can understand? --Anonymous
Dear Career Coach: Could you please tell me what network skills tend to impress hiring managers? Does an A+ cert help at all to get interviews, or should I focus more on esoteric skills such as Cisco and MCSE? Please respond. Im very torn about getting these certs and would like some input. --Confused