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Why you need an IT career coach

Rich Hein | Nov. 6, 2013
Whether you're not happy where you're currently working, are out of work and need a job, or are just looking to stay ahead of the curve, working with an IT career coach can help you learn the skills necessary to stand apart from the other IT job seekers out there.

Consistently moving forward in your career is a challenge and the IT field is particularly daunting. Because it includes so many facets, you must be constantly learning and growing — and doesn't leave much time for professional development.

If you are feeling like something is missing in your career, you're not alone. Seventy percent of employees are not engaged or inspired by their work, according to Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report. While there are many IT professionals who are just happy to muddle through the day and complain about the way things are, there are others who are ready to take up the mantle of professional and personal growth that's necessary to get to that next level in their career.

Whether you're trying to switch to another position, trying to get hired or just thinking about long-term improvement, a career coach can help you find out what you're good at and where you need to improve, as well as help you formulate a plan for future success.

What It Takes to Be an IT Leader
"The foundation [of IT leadership] is always delivery; it's table stakes for becoming a leader in any organization," says Nora Grasham, head of strategy, Business Operations & PMO of eBay. "The next step is moving away from simply delivering what is asked, towards understanding both the customer and the problem statement, so that you're delivering what is needed. Then you need to be able to influence and deliver through other people — whether they work for you or not. Finally, you fold in strategy, both understanding where your business is headed and aligning your IT strategy, as well as influencing that business strategy."

That's a lot to accomplish, but you don't have to go it alone. If you dream of making it to the upper echelons of IT, the reality is that building a plan for your career and professional development is critical for long-term success and relevance — that's where a career coach comes in.

"Most IT professionals are technologists. We need to be business-oriented, effective communicators and strategic in nature. IT professionals can no longer hide behind the mystery of technology as the consumerization of IT, mobility, public cloud etc., has empowered the business to go around IT if needed to accomplish objectives," says Doug Saunders, director of information technology with Republic Services.

What Do Career Coaches Do?
Career coaches are not necessarily there to help you find a new job. "A good coach can hold up a mirror in which you can see yourself and your situation with newfound clarity. Career coaching focuses on your professional growth and development. It enables you to improve your awareness of your goals, objectives, strengths, weaknesses, desires, aspirations, barriers, etc. It may include finding a different job in or outside your company. It may include improving your performance in your current role. It may also focus on reframing how you view your situation to enhance your satisfaction or reduce your stress," says Bob Kantor, senior IT coach and IT management consultant with the Kantor Consulting Group.


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