As most IT professionals know, the information technology industry isn’t immune to the influence of office politics. Everyone, from IT recruiters, to IT managers, to IT contractors, are aware of the powerful impact of office politics on IT jobs. So how should IT consultants and technical recruiters engage with office politics effectively?
- Know who is important. Often you’ll find that you have some peers who are more influential than you’d think. Or perhaps one manager is more in charge than another. Try to notice these things. Show the right deference to the right people and know who can help give your projects or ideas the best boost.
- Know alliances. You don’t have to know them in-depth, but be aware of who is friends with whom in the office. You don’t have to strategically make friends, but you do have to make sure you don’t badmouth somebody to their friend.
- …And when it comes to badmouthing: Don’t. Knowing the general structures of office politics doesn’t require playing into it. Keep yourself above any nasty disagreements and hold off on venting or saying anything less than positive about coworkers, projects, etc to anybody in your office.
IT recruiters and IT consultants all over the world have heard the advice that resumes sent with fun gimmicks, like odd packaging or edible goodies will really grab an IT managers attention. Wise IT professionals know that this simply isn’t true, though. Gimmicks don’t win IT jobs; skills and experience win IT jobs.
While many IT contractors may have an urban legend or two about somebody who got a job because of their wacky resume gimmick, the average person shouldn’t listen to this. There are a few reasons why. For one thing, information technology is a field that demands precision, experience, and the right answers. This means it’s imperative for job holders to be able do their jobs competently. Resume gimmicks are irrelevant to hiring managers, who are focused on competence. Additionally, some managers may see resume gimmicks as a way to disguise incompetence. Avoiding them is crucial. Lastly, resume gimmicks can backfire. Maybe they trigger food or other allergies, or perhaps they are simply too silly or offensive. In any case, these are to be avoided at all costs. The best resume is the one that fits the job.
The information technology field’s demanding pace can make it seem easy and imperative to be a certified doormat for coworkers in your IT jobs. Taking on extra work really makes you stand out to IT recruiters and IT managers as model IT contractors, right? Actually, that’s not really true.
The best IT consultants are able to do their workload well, contribute to the success of their teams, and do so with a smile and good energy. Over time, becoming the office doormat starts to wear on anyone, no matter how originally cheerful they may be. While nobody should balk at the notion of meeting or exceeding expectations at their jobs, taking on too much work will only make you the office sourpuss in the end. And nobody promotes the office sourpuss, no matter how competent of IT professionals they are.
So if you’ve identified yourself as the office doormat, how do you break the cycle of too much work? It’s as easy as taking the time to think about things. Try making a list of your big picture priorities and your daily tasks. Whenever somebody asks you to add new projects, evaluate how these fit into your lists. When things really don’t fit into these lists, then try to push back. Note why these things are not relevant for your goals and job description and use the right tone depending on whom you’re speaking to (boss, coworker, etc). Soon enough, you’ll start seeing your plate become a little less full and your attitude and demeanor at work become a whole lot better!
As in any other field, giving feedback to your manager in information technology can be a dicey thing. IT contractors and IT recruiters may have completely valid feedback, but delivering it to IT managers in a way that avoids soured relationships or terminations can be tricky. Below are a few ways IT consultants and technical recruiters can offer negative feedback to bosses without doing permanent damage to their resumes:
- Pay attention to time and place: Pick a time that your boss will be at his or her calmest and least stressed. Pick a place that’s private. Nobody wants to receive criticism in public—least of all a manager.
- Phrase the criticism well: Can it be put into an ‘I’ statement? Can it be thinly disguised in a story about a fictitious friend or acquaintance? The less this criticism actually feels like criticism, the better.
- Leave any drama out of it. The easier this conversation is, the better. Jokes may help, as will keeping any emotion out of it.
Recent studies show that IT professionals are tend to outpace other professionals in an alarming new area: weigh gain. The information technology field may show IT contractors, IT recruiters, and IT managers gaining higher poundage for a few reasons.
The first, though not special to the industry, may be the fact that IT consultants do tend to sit quite a bit at work. There are plenty of studies about the dangers of sitting and it’s hard to ignore how often people in IT sit at their IT jobs. The second reason may be that IT workers are likely to have to work odd or long hours to keep up with the 24/7 need for technology that delivers. Sleep deprivation or odd sleep patterns are shown to throw off people’s metabolism significantly. Some studies even show that tired workers are more likely to reach for food full of carbohydrates or sugar. Lastly, IT professionals, like most professionals, are subjected to the onslaught of office food and office food as a management incentive. Providing food for workers is a well-known tactic for managers to gain loyalty. While well-intentioned, managers who use this tactic too often may be hurting their supports.
Information technology, like all industries isn’t immune to poor management techniques. All IT recruiters and IT consultants have had direct or indirect experience with terrible IT managers at IT jobs. Below are the some of the most common mistakes that technical recruiters and IT contractors have to deal with—and how to deal with them.
- Speaking negatively: Managers who speak negatively about people who are currently on their staff, people who have quit or been fired, or the company itself, are certainly hurting their team’s morale. Feeling like your manager has no hope for your department’s success, or the success of you and all your teammates, quickly kills your own motivation. While you can’t change their outlook, you can do your best not to share in it or to be influenced by it. Try to respond in a neutral way to any negative talk like this and quickly change the subject. Avoid repeating it and avoid thinking about it.
- Doing their staff’s work for them: Sometimes managers will want to save time and complete a task that their staff either can’t do correctly or at all. This is a serious mistake. It doesn’t give the staff the chance to learn how to do the task and ensures the same exact scenario, except probably with increased frustration, in the future. If your manager is doing something for you, do your best to stop them and ask for feedback on how you can do it yourself. Take the opportunity to learn whatever the task is and take notes so you can do it in the future.
- Letting staff break the little rules: It may simply feel like too much energy for a manager to have to exert to make sure all rules are followed. But here’s the problem: Breaking the little rules, especially when it comes to coding, programming, and other IT tasks, can lead to bigger issues down the line. While you can’t control what your manager does and doesn’t enforce, you can hold rigorous standards for yourself and encourage them (gently!) in your teammates. Everyone will thank you later down the line.
By now, most IT professionals around the world probably know about the big move by the information technology field’s labor unions in France. The move to give IT contractors, IT recruiters, and IT managers the right to disconnect from their IT jobs and email after 6 pm has made epic waves around the internet. In fact, the story has made a particularly large impact just because it’s been misinterpreted so often. Some are taking the story as France banning email after 6 pm for all workers in all industries.
While the story has largely been impactful because of its misinterpretation, it may be impactful in the future for actually affecting more than just IT consultants and IT headhunters. This movement was actually a pretty niche one, only affecting a small part of France’s population. However, it has already begun a surge of blog posts and op-eds about how the policy should be affected world-wide in a far more concrete way. This story may be only the beginning of a bigger revolution around the world.
Most IT professionals- from the IT headhunters to the IT consultants – wouldn’t be able to function without email. But maybe the way you use email is hurting you in your IT jobs. Maybe your inbox is flooded with useless emails from other IT recruiters or IT contractors. Or worse, maybe you’re the one sending useless emails to IT managers and slowly making them lose confidence in you. Here are 3 ways to stop hurting yourself professionally with your email.
- Stop and think before reading or sending. Will I benefit from reading this or will somebody benefit if I send this? Can I just send this as part of another message or, better yet, in person or on the phone? Can I stop by and say hello to this person instead of reading their silly forward? Do your part to stop the email madness and your productivity and coworkers and managers will appreciate it.
- Keep it clean. Literally and figuratively. Never put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want the entire world to see. Who knows when something you say might be forwarded to somebody else? And keep a clean email box. Never deleting anything means you can never find that important email with the info that will save the day.
- Cut the addiction and save yourself and others some time. Responding to every email immediately will only breed more emails. Do yourself a favor and answer emails only a few set times a day. You’ll be able to focus on your work and get more done and your coworkers and managers will notice your productivity. They’ll probably appreciate the cleaner inboxes, too.
Mondays always wind up being the slowest day of the week, whatever side of the information technology field you’re on. IT recruiters, IT contractors, and IT managers all feel the drag on Monday. But there are a few things IT professionals can do that will make their Mondays go as quickly as their Thursdays.
- Start by looking ahead on Thursday and Friday. If Monday is often slow, it’s because it tends to be more of a catch-up day. The catch-up, of course, comes from the preceding days: Thursday and Friday. IT consultants and technical recruiters don’t need to sprint on Thursday and Friday, but keeping the pace consistent with the rest of the week will even things out come Monday.
- Plan ahead. Whether it’s during your commute or on Friday at 4:50, make sure you have a list somewhere of the things you need to accomplish on Monday. Don’t leave the prioritizing and triaging until Monday morning. It only slows down the rest of the day, and sometimes the week!
- Read your email on Monday morning, but only selectively. Don’t go through every email you’ve acquired since you left on Friday. Go through anything that is urgent and relates to your priorities for the day. Leave everything else that’s less urgent for later. Responding to everything first thing Monday morning will only start a terrible cycle of email all day long. Hold off and get some stuff done before engaging in the cycle.
Like most managers, IT managers are pressed for time and sometimes (if not often) stressed or overwhelmed with deadlines and projects. For IT contractors, communicating with a manager at their IT jobs can be intimidating, especially when they don’t know them well. Below are a few tips for IT consultants to improve their communication with managers.
- Say what you have to say with confidence. This is for a few reasons, especially for time management. Managers don’t often have time to hear you puzzle out the best response. Probably the most important reason, though, is because managers want to believe they can trust you to deliver answer and information that they can rely on. IT recruiters presented you as the best candidate and your manager went through stacks of resumes to find yours. This alone should be enough reason to feel a bit more confident when you are relaying information to a manager.
- Keep your communication organized and to the point. Relaying info in the form that makes it easiest to digest and use will make you a superstar to your manager. They don’t want to waste time wading through a long email or presentation.
- Use the most concise and professional language possible. In information technology especially, it’s important to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Using the best and most up-to-date terms will give off a great impression when speaking with managers.