12 habits that make you an indispensable IT pro

Ditch the slackers, take on dirty work, do it with data -- here's how to get the inside track on a highly rewarding career in IT

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The way to avoid this trap: Don't hoard information or expertise. Delegate responsibility. Start training your own replacement now, or find ways to outsource your current responsibilities so that you can take on more challenging assignments.

"I have been both indispensable and dispensable, and I had better job security and was happier when I was dispensable," says Jen Hancock, author of "The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom."

Hancock says, "When I was indispensable, things fell apart. If I tried to take a long weekend I came back to a mess I had to clean up. The longer I was away, the worse the mess. When I finally got my act together enough to manage the work and delegate it out properly, everything ran more smoothly."

Effective IT habit No. 12: Know when to fire yourself

Sometimes the best way to become indispensible as an IT pro is to step away from a stifling career path, even if that means branching out on your own.

"I boosted my career by starting my own company," says Lowe, of Innovator LLC. "I doubled my take-home pay immediately, set my own hours, and got to work on really interesting things with highly motivated people."

The notion that a "successful career" implies a steady progression of higher-paying jobs within a company or industry just doesn't apply any more, he adds.

"A successful career today is a journey on which you discover and do what you love," he says. "If that happens to be offering businesses innovative ways of changing their work flow to achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency, that's great. If that happens to be giving guided tours of canyons in Utah (instead of applying the advanced math degree you earned at university), that's also great."

When you're out on your own, being indispensable means solving problems and letting others reap the rewards, Lowe says. "That's pretty much the essence of my consulting career. I innovate, they prosper, we both win. The next time the client has a challenge, they call me first."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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