SysAdmin Day is coming up on Friday, July 28th. This year, how about celebrating the day (and the coming year) with a resolution to invest in yourself to boost your skills and advance your career? Making a commitment to professional development and learning could lead to new opportunities for you over the next twelve months.
How do you get started? Here are three things that you can do to help develop your skills and move your career forward as a SysAdmin.
Get Those Certifications—C'mon You Can Do It!
Certifications are a great way to increase your knowledge and skills, and get you noticed among management and your peers. They are also helpful if you are looking to apply for a new job and want to stand out ahead of other candidates. Companies actively look to hire candidates with certifications, and they often get promoted faster than employees who are not certified.
According to our 2016 worldwide survey of 650 IT Admins, the three most popular certifications among our respondents were Microsoft certifications (45.6 percent of respondents) followed by Cisco (26.8 percent) and VMware (17 percent).
How can you get started in the certification process? First, contact the vendor and research which certifications are available to you at your current experience level. You may need to start with a more basic, "intro" certification and after earning that work up to more advanced, specialized ones. Next, enroll in a certification training course. These are often offered as both in-classroom or online courses, and will involve a fee. Training courses may be offered by a college or university, a company or directly by the vendor. While you are taking the course (and after) it is important to study as much as possible - you need to get ready for the exam! You may want to do some research to find out about study groups or other learning aids that might be available in your area. When you are fully prepared, register for and take the exam at an official testing center. The testing centers may vary by vendor and location. If you earn your certification, congratulations! Now, it will be important that you keep it valid over time, and you may need to re-certify after a certain number of years. Be sure to manage your certifications closely and keep them validated and active so that you don't lose them.
Become a business pro
Learning the business of the company that you work for can also help your professional development and career. It is good to step away from your daily IT duties (or spend time after hours) to learn more about the company and industry that you support so that you can better relate to and understand your internal clients. This will also show your commitment to the company and demonstrate to management that you can add value to the organization beyond that of a "standard" technology professional. Knowing the business can also help you to make better decisions in your daily role that can make a positive impact on the organization. Along with learning your company's business, it is important to make yourself an expert in any software or systems that are specific to your industry. For example, if you work for a hotel chain you might want to have a strong working knowledge of hospitality-specific software or systems for booking rooms, managing back-office operations, etc. These systems can be internally developed by your company or from a vendor that specializes in solutions for your industry.
Share your success
And, while trying to be as modest as possible, self-promotion is also a helpful (and often overlooked) way to advance your career as a SysAdmin. Take time on a regular basis to update your profile on LinkedIn, Spiceworks or other social media sites and make sure that they are complete and accurate. Use these websites to showcase your achievements and skills, and network with your industry peers. Maybe you have earned a new certification - it's time to add that to your profile! You can also share interesting industry (or business) articles that you find and make commentary as appropriate to demonstrate that you are keeping on top of what is happening in the IT industry or the industry that you work in.
By keeping yourself on the leading edge with certifications, taking time to learn your business, and promoting your achievements, you can be on the way to making new progress in your career, which can benefit you both professionally and personally.