Jidaw Systems

The IT Career Top Dos and Don'ts

The competence of an IT professional is about meeting needs - satisfying the demand of the markets (local and global). Understanding competence needs will help IT professionals achieve greater success in their careers and businesses. Acquiring technical skills are the most obvious means of addressing these needs. Your competence as a professional however goes beyond paper qualifications.

Technical Competencies

What are the ICT-specific "technical" competencies the market desires? Competence covers the knowledge, skills and experience required to do specific technical ICT jobs/work. This requires a solid foundation in technical skills in particular areas. The ICT space is vast and wide. There is certainly room for anyone with interest. However, specific skills need varies from area to area, with some overlapping with others.

Specialist ICT skills are essential for the manufacture of telecommunications equipment, computers, semi-conductors and other electronic equipment. Technical skills are also required for the provision of information, software and services - computer services, telecommunication services, Internet services, software solutions and ICT-enabled services.

Such technical know-how is essential to create, support and deploy the wide range of applications, fields, tools and technologies driving and supporting the knowledge society. The scope includes computers, the Internet, software, database, fixed-line telecommunications, mobile and wireless communications (Radio, CDMA, GPRS, 3G, GSM, Bluetooth), Mobile Internet (UMTS, WAP, m-Commerce), satellite communications, networks, broadband, embedded and specialized ICT devices (barcode scanners, global positioning systems (GPS), etc).


However, competence isn't about mastery of everything, which is impossible anyway. It isn't just about having expertise - it's more about using your expertise to add value. Ability is not having it is using. It is about knowing how to deploy your technical skills in area(s) of interest to provide solutions. For example Web developers have the ability to develop websites and programs that contribute - i.e. provide content, present data, perform calculations and provide e-business services. Other areas with high demand for competent professionals include: Telecom, Technical Support, Networking, Software development and Database Development and Administration.



Due to the continuing rapid development of applications and the relentless emergence of powerful new technologies, the competence needs of ICT professionals and users change rapidly. Knowledge options have no long-term value in the digital age. The speed of knowledge industry developments continually outpaces responses from developers of degree, certification and other learning programs. It is therefore impossible for degree programs or certifications alone to sustain ICT professionals throughout their working career. I'm amazed when people think the possession of degrees and certificates eliminates the need for further training, certification, or self-development.

Competence means having an understanding and motivation beyond meeting present on-the-job needs. Lifelong learning is the key to career growth. It isn't about history or the static. It's about change - expecting, anticipating, embracing and driving "the new". Status quo is for dinosaurs. You must constantly reinvent yourself to stay relevant. IT professionals must strike the right balance between interests, abilities and emerging trends on one hand, and present opportunities and jobs on the other.


Career Development, Opportunities, Expectations, Quick Fix

The competent professional has a career plan with clear targets and goals. Decisions on training, degree programs and work experience should be taken within the context of your career plan. Knowledge and skills without direction and purpose is incompetence in the clothing of expertise.

ICT is the backbone of the knowledge economy - opportunities for career advancement, self-development and financial reward in ICT are excellent. The field is both challenging and fast growing. The interwoven and diverse nature of ICT fields offers many professionals the flexibility to work in different areas over time, and sometimes even on an ongoing basis. It is not unusual to find IT professionals carrying out Tech support, Computer Networking, Training and Troubleshooting all in one job.  The environment enables a person to start (short-term) in say Tech support and eventually end up (long-term) in Web programming, or Database administration.

Some will want to grow IT careers because of its diverse opportunities; others love the nature of work and love being on the cutting edge.  However, the "get-rich-quick" belief is the mark of incompetence. Individuals who make money the sole aim, find it difficult to last under the intense workload and incredible rate of change.

Education, certification, skills, knowledge and experience confer advantage but must be combined with the right professional attitude for career fulfillment.



Initiative is critical for career opportunity and development. Can you grow your career without initiative? Even though many needs in society require the application of ICT, resources for growth are often limited. You need to go the extra mile to create opportunity. How keen are you about innovating? Being creative might be awkward or stressful, but "there is no traffic in the extra mile". Creativity requires a healthy contempt for the conventional. A lot needs to be done and the industry always needs innovative people ready to seize the initiative in the wide ICT space - developing new software, recreating business processes, changing the service value chain, etc.


Soft skills,  People & Professionalism

Working in ICT and with ICT is all about people - making a difference. Some job roles in ICT require more customer interaction and interpersonal skills than others. For example certain project management roles require more communication, time management, organization and teambuilding abilities than technical skills, while others don't. However, most roles in ICT expect the professional to have good communication, business and problem-solving skills in addition to specialist knowledge. The Software developer performs better when she understands the business issues driving the software solutions she provides.

Furthermore, people skills aren't just about on the job opportunity - they are life skills. Do you show leadership? Can you persuade others? You need such skills to get along with others, showcase your value and market for opportunity. Good spoken and written communication skills as well as presentation skills are great assets to have when prospecting for opportunity.

There will be pressures and it can be a jungle out there. You therefore need to see the big picture. Beyond expertise the right behaviour, maturity rather than arrogance, high trust levels and a positive image are the characteristics of the competent IT professional. It means never sacrificing your reputation and long-term future on the altar of immediate benefits and expedience.;


Competence for Entrepreneurship

As more people and organizations depend on ICT, there is increasing demand for businesses - big or small - that can provide specialist ICT solutions. These are companies that have ICT (hardware, software, networking, web, telecom) and e-business as their end product. While there is a need for the development of specific entrepreneurial skills, issues relating to technical and social competence also apply to entrepreneurs who start and run their own businesses.  Entrepreneurs as expected will need more business skills and have more responsibility for creating their own opportunities and experiences, than paid employees. 


In my opinion being an IT professional is one of the most exciting professions today. Competence is constantly learning, evolving to be the best IT professional you can be. It's not only about degrees or certifications. It's about how the programmer. Telecom analyst, web developer, DBA, tech support officer and network engineer carry out their tasks and what they contribute. There will be bells and whistles "signifying nothing". But the focus of competence is substance - creating value. The bottom-line is to make your mark, competence must make a difference.

Jide Awe
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com


What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this content resource Here.



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October 2, 2008


Abiola of Nigeria NNPC says:



Please keep it up. This is a good one and also encourages many people who believe in getting jut the certificate not the real training.  



May 21, 2007


M. Issah from Abuja says:



Competence is seriously needed in the profession. Degree alone is not enough.  



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