The solution? Keep an ongoing written portfolio of your accomplishments, which you can then present to your boss at the appropriate moment. It can be as formal as a list of achievements you’d clip to a résumé or as simple as handwritten notes. “The important thing is the ability to talk about how all the good you’ve done for the company over a period of time,” Bair says.
Develop a set of metrics that proves your worth to the company, adds Paul Groce, who runs Christian & Timber’s CIO recruiting practice in New York. “Successful managers ‘measure’ everything, from uptime, to availability, to head count per million dollars of revenue,” Groce says. “Some of the more successful are very aggressive about dashboarding and sharing performance metrics -- not only with internal management but also on the view of IT’s importance to the success of the business.”
15. Schmooze It or Lose It
Joining user groups, professional associations, or nonprofit organizations exposes you to new people, adding to your network of contacts. It also can expose you to new ideas and give you a sounding board for your own.
“When you donate your time and technical expertise to nonprofit groups or business organizations, you can develop a center of influence outside your own company,” Spherion’s Courtney says. “You may also get the chance to develop skill sets you might not get an opportunity to develop in your traditional workplace.”
Becoming a valued member of the technical community is a long-term investment that can really pay off, KForce’s Bair says. “You can learn what other companies are doing on the cutting edge and apply that to your own company’s business processes,” he says. “Technical innovation often comes from the outside.”
16. Walk and Talk
If you want to walk the walk, you’ve got to talk the talk -- and in a way everyone can understand, Hudson’s Paul Taylor says. Joining outside organizations can help, as can taking public speaking courses. But this also means ungluing yourself from the computer screen, wandering the halls, and meeting people in other departments.
“All too often, IT professionals become so accustomed to speaking tech jargon that they become virtually incomprehensible to the outside world,” Taylor says. “For outsiders, it’s like they’re speaking a foreign language. Someone who can translate that into layman’s terms is much more attractive for a senior position, which will likely require more interaction with others outside the IT department.”
17. Hire Your Own Replacements
Tech people are often loath to bring in new talent, fearing they’ll have to compete later on for the top jobs, Groce says. A better strategy? “Mentor and develop the talent who can take over your position” so you can move up to the next level.
“Tech leaders can be the worst in the world in this area,” Groce adds. “They’re afraid that developing the next generation of leadership may push someone ahead of them on the next-in-line list.”
Hiring good people also scores points with top management, KForce’s Bair adds. Eventually, you’ll develop a reputation as the person who always knows where to find the talent -- making you even more indispensable.