I have been working in the technology and talent space in Canada for the past 16 years. Even after this amount of time, I can say I love it! It is an ever-changing scene that continues to evolve. New technologies pop up monthly. Many are fads and disappear, while some stay and become a trend, evolve, and make their way into enterprise environments.
After 16 years in the IT space, I have concluded that success has a different meaning to different people. To some, it could be growth and promotion, while to others it means hitting a specific salary or hourly rate, working for a big name brand, or opening a start-up.
Regardless of a person’s idea of career success, here are some key elements to being a good IT consultant and tips for attaining and maintaining success in the industry.
Consider Specialties or Niches within IT Consulting
IT consulting is all about specialties. Really, IT consulting is a term that captures a broad market. Each IT consultant will have a very different experience throughout their career as job descriptions, companies, and projects are very different. Part of having success in consulting requires that you evaluate what’s important and interesting to you within the industry itself, but also in a career. Above and beyond the primary skills required to be an IT consultant, you should consider other aspects of a role to determine what will be the best fit. This includes:
- INDUSTRY: Consider what industry within IT consulting you are interested in. Is it FinTech, Telco, Gaming? The specialty area you get involved in may be informed by your previous knowledge of or experience in a specific area. Do any products or services feel closer to home for you? Are there any that you care for more than others? The closer you feel to the product and offering the less it will feel like a chore or work.
- SIZE OF COMPANY: Within IT consulting, you could work for a mega-corporation, a midsize corporation, or a start-up (or anything in between). With different sizes come different cultures. As yourself whether you see yourself fitting in best. Do you care for a foosball table in the lounge? Or do you like to work in a team of 50? Some people like larger companies, but others prefer a smaller setting. Put some extra thought into what you want and what you can bring to each of those environments.
- PROJECT TYPE: Is there an area within IT consulting that you like more than the others? For example, are you passionate about development, migration, compliance, operations, or something else? It may be helpful to pick one and try to stick with it. From my experience, candidates who have had a project focus throughout their career are often preferred over candidates that have a bit of everything.
Lifetime Learning Is Essential to Being a Good IT Consultant
The tech industry evolves fast, sometimes too fast for its own good! Think about your niche. You may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it going to be applicable or relevant five years from now?
- How often does it get upgraded?
- Am I keeping up-to-date with the changes?
- How will I set myself up to make sure I am marketable if or when that tech I use started to get phased out?
And yes, there are folks out there who still work with CICS/COBOL, but how many technologies are out there that last that long?! Try to name another technology you are using that’s 49 years old!
Your Network Is Your Biggest Asset in IT Consulting
As an IT consultant or IT professional, you must network all the time. You never know when your contract could abruptly end or if you are standing in front of your next hiring manager!
To be a good and successful IT consultant, you need to invest in your brand and network. You should aim to leave a great taste with every client you work with, as they can be your next clients’ neighbors! Additionally, it’s important that you build a relationship with multiple recruiters because not all agencies or recruiters work with the same types of clients or have the same opportunities.
Being an IT consultant means that you are a business owner and that you much always have an eye out in the market to see what is out there, as everything has an end date attached to it.
Your hustle should never end!
Have you already been found by a recruiter? Be sure to ask them these questions the next time an opportunity presents itself.
Director of Corporate Development
Sam is a seasoned training professional at Jarvis Consulting Group. He is passionate about coaching and talent development as well as emerging technologies.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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