A guide for
IT professionals are in high demand around the world.
With consistently low unemployment rates and a
rapidly growing industry, this trend is likely to continue
for the foreseeable future.
If you’re serious about your professional progress, it’s crucial to understand that this
favorable workforce environment alone doesn’t necessarily translate into better job
prospects. Fortunately, with an overall career plan that helps you better understand
existing and future opportunities, you stand a much better chance of reaching your
In this eBook, you
will learn about:
• The importance of
• How to develop your
own personal brand
• How to build a career
map that helps you to
purposefully reach your
Before creating an overall plan, let’s first take a closer look at the concept of career management.
Career management is an
ongoing, purposeful process
through which professionals:
• become aware of their interests,
values, and strengths
• identify their professional life goals
• obtain information about job maturity
• create personalized action plans to
lead them to their career goals
Though all of these activities are valid and plausible aspects of professional
life, when performed as one-dimensional actions, they lack effectiveness
and long-term viability.
Career management is not:
• an activity to enhance your résumé
• a job search tactic
• a promotion-motivated action
• an activity that’s prompted by job loss
Your career map
Take a moment to reflect on where you are professionally. Next, consider where
you want to be one year, five years, and even ten years from now.
How do you get there?
An integral aspect of your career management strategy, a career map can help you reach
your goals throughout your professional life. A career map is a proactive, long-term
plan that purposefully guides you to your professional goals by means of careful career
management and direction.
This guide will show you how to create your own personalized IT career map and how
to continuously use it to assess your professional progress. In short, your career map
allows you to take control of your career trajectory. It reaches far beyond present day
technologies and takes into consideration aspirational goals that help plan your
pathway to achievement.
A CAREER MAP IS A
GUIDES YOU TO YOUR
BY MEANS OF CAREFUL
For today’s IT professional, the lesson is
to stand out from the crowd so even if
circumstances become less favorable,
you stand a better chance of remaining
more happily employed.
Create a career map,
develop your brand, and
enhance your IT portfolio.
PART 1: LIVING IN HAPPENSTANCEVILLE
Happenstanceville. Maybe you’ve been there:
The name says everything. It’s a short-term place, where you only take action when something
“happens” to you. That something can range from being passed over for a promotion
to stumbling into a great opportunity, and from job loss to being selected for a highly
specialized training. It’s a short-term place where some people wind up spending a lifetime.
It’s characterized by a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to your next career move—or
the lack thereof.
What’s wrong with Happenstanceville?
The answer is threefold.
First, the economy can be a fickle thing. In 1998, the Internet and everything IT related
seemed virtually unstoppable. Two years later, when the dot com bubble burst, all of that
came crashing down. Many IT professionals were left unexpectedly unemployed—many who
thought they had job security and, therefore, hadn’t given much thought to the next stage
of their career. Having a long-term career plan, and knowing what your next career steps are,
can help you manage through economic downturns and unexpected changes.
For today’s IT professional, the lesson is to stand out from the crowd so even if circumstances
become less favorable, you stand a better chance of remaining more happily employed.
PART 1: LIVING IN HAPPENSTANCEVILLE
Second, simply reacting to external events limits your career awareness
and development. Without pinpointing your professional qualities and goals and
without ongoing self-assessments, it’s difficult to adeptly manage your career to
effectively meet your objectives.
Last, but certainly not least, while plenty of opportunities may come to you because
your skills are in high demand, they may not be fulfilling in the long run if they don’t
line up with your professional values and goals. If you haven’t mapped out exactly
what you like to do and where you ultimately want to take your career, it can be difficult
to discern whether an opportunity is right for you.
Consider this: perhaps you’re an application developer who has a goal of launching a
startup. You decide to work for a large company to gain the experience you need to get
you there. Based on your stellar application development skills, you find yourself moving
up the ranks in positions such as Software Engineer, Team Lead and Architect.
This is great career progression if your goal is to remain on the technical side of the
profession. However, despite the value of your endeavors, these roles are not leading
you toward your ultimate goal of launching a startup. A good career map would have
you considering roles that will lead you to IT Director or CIO positions where you can
gain the exposure to business management and marketing that is critical to running
your own business.
Knowing this, Happenstanceville suddenly loses much of its charm. If you’re serious
about realizing the career you envision, one that allows you to develop and advance,
you need to move out of Happenstanceville.
It’s time to travel to your new destination.
SIMPLY REACTING TO
LIMITS YOUR CAREER
PART 1: LIVING IN HAPPENSTANCEVILLE
PART 2: ARRIVING IN PURPOSETOWN /11
Now that you’ve put Happenstanceville in your rearview
mirror, you’ve arrived in a privileged place most have not
yet seen: Purposetown.
In Purposetown, you know which long-term professional direction you want to pursue.
You’re aware of your strengths and values. And you know what to do in order to reach
your career goals.
You don’t wait for opportunities to happen: you work towards creating them so you can
take the next step on your career path.
Upon arrival in Purposetown
The only way to enter Purposetown is with a career plan passport, which is proof of
having addressed these four main aspects:
1. You actively manage your career.
2. You understand what a recruiter can do for you.
3. You understand what a manager can do for you.
4. You understand what you have to do for yourself.
PART 2: ARRIVING IN PURPOSETOWN /12
Let’s take a closer look at each.
1. Managing your career.
In the introduction, we learned that career management is an ongoing process that
allows you to be aware of your professional interests, values, and strengths; research
information about job maturity; pinpoint your career goals; and create an action plan to
move towards those goals.
Remember: as you progress in your professional life, you need to keep assessing your
situation and making any necessary ongoing adjustments and updates.
2. Understanding what a recruiter can do for you.
Because a recruiter has direct connections to employers, he or she can be a valuable ally
who can match you and your skills to appropriate opportunities throughout your career.
In addition, a recruiter will check in with you periodically to see if you’re happy where
you are, or whether, based on your progress and planned career steps, you’re looking
for a change.
CATEGORY A ROLE
FALLS INTO ALLOWS
YOU TO EVALUATE
WHETHER YOU’RE A
FOR THE POSITION.
PART 2: ARRIVING IN PURPOSETOWN /13
3. Understanding what a manager can do for you.
Because your manager’s responsible for your performance in your current position, he
or she can be another important ally. A manager wants you to deliver value for your
employer and, in order to do so, can coach you based on your specific needs.
Remember: your company has a lot invested in you, so it’s only logical that your
manager wants to understand your work style and professional aspirations in order to
help you—and simultaneously your company—progress.
4. Understanding what you have to do for yourself.
Neither your recruiter nor your manager can decide what motivates you, what your
career goals are, or what your next move(s) should be. You are the only person who can
define your professional trajectory.
That’s why you have to make your career map yourself.
DON’T WAIT FOR
TO HAPPEN: WORK
THEM SO YOU CAN
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
ON YOUR CAREER PATH.
PART 2: ARRIVING IN PURPOSETOWN
Your career map
It’s essential to understand that your career map is a doubly useful resource. It’s not
just your way out of Happenstanceville and into Purposetown. It’s also the tool that will
help you navigate the rest of your professional life after you’ve arrived in Purposetown.
Because once you’ve mapped your career destination, you’ll need to regularly assess if
you’re on the right track and, if necessary, make any tweaks to keep you heading in the
direction you want to go.
Think of your career map like a GPS: it will get you to your destination, even if it means
adjusting the course if you take a detour along the way.
THINK OF YOUR
CAREER MAP LIKE A
GPS: IT WILL GET YOU
TO YOUR DESTINATION,
EVEN IF IT MEANS
ADJUSTING THE COURSE
IF YOU TAKE A DETOUR
ALONG THE WAY.
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER /16
As mentioned, a career map is more than just having a career
goal or taking ad hoc action when circumstances require
you do something.
It’s about evaluating your trajectory and filling in the blanks regarding what you need to
keep your career purposeful. It allows you to evaluate new developments in your skills,
preferences, and goals, as well as changes in the industry.
The value of self-assessment
Taking an in-depth look at your professional self or professional identity is the single
most important aspect of any career map. There are four components to a thorough
• Roles. What professional roles have you occupied in the past, and how did they
contribute to your development? Where do they fit into your projected career path?
• Skills. What skills and certifications do you possess? To what extent are they
measurable? Did you acquire them through education or experience, or are
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER
• Strengths. What are your strengths and how do you apply them in your profession?
How do you plan to take advantage of your strengths during the course of
• Experiences. What professional experience do you have? How have your life
experiences contributed to your professional life? How will both your professional
and life experiences contribute to your future career?
Answer the questions above, and you’ll have a good overview of your current
professional identity, as well as the one you want to establish.
This overview is a crucial aspect of your career map.
From now on, before committing to any opportunity, from a new job or a volunteer
project to writing a guest blog or starting a professional development course, take a
moment to assess how that opportunity matches your professional identity and where it
fits in your career map. By doing so, you’ll learn to discern between opportunities that
serve your purpose and those that don’t.
TAKING AN IN-DEPTH
LOOK AT YOUR
IDENTITY IS THE
OF ANY CAREER MAP.
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER
Note that a career map doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the fastest way to your
dream job. In fact, it can actually allow you take a detour—but a detour isn’t necessarily
a waste of time.
Let’s say you’re a whiz at systems security, but you’ve recently discovered you enjoy
creating apps. You accept a short-term app development project to find out if it’s
something you want to be doing full time. During the project, you realize it’s not
something that will hold your attention for 40 hours a week, and you want to return
to your original focus—systems security—as soon as possible.
The flexibility to explore other options without immediately committing long term
is important to your professional development. The job of your dreams could quite
possibly be a different one when you’re 35 than it was when you were fresh out
A CAREER MAP CAN
ALLOW YOU TAKE
A DETOUR ISN’T
WASTE OF TIME.
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER /19
Consistency is key
The key to a good career map is consistency. By consistently returning to your career
map to assess where you are and what you’re doing to get you where you want to go,
you can avoid unnecessary or unwanted detours. At the same time, you still maintain
the flexibility to explore new opportunities without losing focus of your goals. And that’s
a well-mapped career.
Building your map, your brand
As your career map takes shape, something wonderful happens. Recruiters, managers,
and other professionals in your field start to recognize your unique brand.
Note that whether you’re consciously building your brand or not, it’s becoming
increasingly more apparent to those in your professional world. What types of projects
you take on, how you work, what your skills and strengths are, and how you interact with
others all broadcast your professional brand. And as you progress in your career, your
brand evolves with you. So you might as well take control and consciously manage it.
GOALS SETTING IS
A KEY ASPECT OF
ANY CAREER MAP
AND ALLOWS YOU
ASSESS WHERE YOU
ARE RELATIVE TO
YOUR PERSONAL AND
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER /20
Your brand consists of the service you offer professionally, your values, passions, top
skills, and strengths. To gain a good insight of your brand, it can be useful to write out
a description of your professional self.
Here’s an example:
• what you offer: experienced systems security professional
• your values: transparency, communication, trustworthiness, perseverance
• your passions: security, innovation
• your top skills: CISSP, Unix, Checkpoint Firewalls
• your strengths: precision, proactive, speed, strategy
• summary: “I’m passionate about implementing current and effective systems security
in order to counter data loss and proactively maintain the integrity of networks both
long-term and in emergencies. I know how to communicate with non-IT
professionals, as well as how to inform them about best security protocols to
enhance overall systems security.”
Next, put all of these aspects together in a tag line that accurately sums up your brand.
For example: Experienced, proactive, and trustworthy systems security specialist working on
current IT and human solutions to maintain the integrity of systems and counter data loss.
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER /21
Just like your career map, your brand needs regular assessment and tweaking. Let’s say
you become the team leader on your next project and your outstanding communications
skills contribute significantly to the rapid completion of the assignment. Moreover, you
discover that you enjoy managing teams, so you take a similar position on your next
project. When you assess your brand, you should tweak your description to reflect your
management-oriented skills, strengths, summary, and tagline.
Simultaneously, you should revisit your career map to see how leading projects
affects your overall course. Is management your new goal, or is it something you want
to do intermittently so you can alternate between leadership and innovative systems
Whatever you decide, make sure you adjust your career map so your new purpose, as
well as how to get there, are clear.
CONSISTS OF THE
SERVICE YOU OFFER
TOP SKILLS, AND
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER /22
Networks can be valuable resources when developing your brand.
Use your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media accounts to reinforce
your brand. By regularly contributing to conversations in a professional manner, as
well as providing updates about what you’re doing, you can effectively communicate to
the people in your network what your brand is. Additionally, your network will provide
you with feedback by engaging in discussions with you or liking and commenting on
Enhancing your IT portfolio
You possess your skills, you’ve earned experience, and you’ve established your brand.
Now it’s time to revise your résumé to present your portfolio in a manner that gets you
the roles you want.
How do you do this?
Describe your role in achieving a project’s goals, the challenges to the project, and
how your skills and strengths specifically contributed to the outcome.
Let’s say you implemented systems security for a client who integrated data from
multiple company locations across the country. Here’s how you would present this in
Created and implemented a systems security strategy (your role) to successfully integrate
remote data banks without data loss (the objective). The project was completed within
time and budget (the outcome) due to outstanding communication between remote
and matrixed professionals that allowed for rapid script development, testing, and
implementation (your skills and strengths)—despite encountering two major external
security threats during the project (the challenges).
Aligning channels for consistency
Next, make sure that wherever your résumé appears, from your LinkedIn profile to your
recruiter’s database, it’s consistent. Remember to update your portfolio and résumé
according to developments. Everybody who’s interested in you as a professional, from
your network to potential employers, needs to see consistency in all information about
you. By ensuring the information you publish is the same across all channels, you
reinforce the transparency and trustworthiness of your brand.
REVISE YOUR CURRENT
RÉSUMÉ TO REFLECT
AND REVIEW IT
REGULARLY SO YOU
CAN ELABORATE ON
IT CLEARLY WHEN
SPEAKING WITH A
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER
Your boot camp timeline
You’ve learned why you should move from Happenstanceville to Purposetown. You’ve
learned how to create a career map, develop your brand, and enhance your IT portfolio.
And now it’s time to actually do it all!
To put it all together, give yourself a timeline of a month:
Week I: Perform a self-assessment and create a career map.
Week II: Evaluate your personal brand and further develop it.
Week III: Enhance your IT portfolio and revise your résumé.
Week IV: Align all your channels for consistency.
By allowing yourself a week for each step, you have enough time to be thorough. And by
being thorough now, you lay a solid foundation for a successful career map and a unique
INTERESTED IN YOU
AS A PROFESSIONAL,
FROM YOUR NETWORK
TO SEE CONSISTENCY
IN ALL INFORMATION
PART 3: THE WELL-MAPPED IT CAREER
Perform a self-assessment
and create a
Align all your
With the information and examples presented here, your wait to
get out of Happenstanceville and into Purposetown is over.
You can even follow the developments of career mapping, pose questions, and join in
the conversation at #purposetown. That way, you won’t get lost before, during, or after
Just remember: along with investing time in self-assessment, discovering your personal
brand, and aligning your channels, you’ll also want to put your career map into action.
So, why wait another day?
Your IT career map can start opening doors for you today!
Kelly® has the connections to develop your IT career. Our customers
include 90% of Fortune 500® and 99% of Fortune 100™ companies.
We put a new employee to work every 33 seconds, and every four
minutes one gets hired full-time by a Kelly customer.
Search for jobs on our Kelly Career Network®, join our Talent Network,
or visit www.kellyservices.us/ITcareers for career insights.
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