10 top ways IT and data pros are boosting their careers

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What do IT pros hope to accomplish in their careers? To find out, job site Spiceworks polled more than 1,000 of members of the Spiceworks Community for their IT career resolutions.

1. Always keep learning (54 percent plan to)
It's often been said that with technology, the only constant is change, notes Peter Tsai, a B2B technical marketer and IT content writer at Spiceworks in his blog. Therefore, if you're not consistently learning, you’re standing still while the world of tech passes you by. It's no wonder that the majority of IT pros we talked to said learning new things will be a priority this year.

2. Stay Employed (46 percent plan to)
They say the best things in life are free, but it's also true that money talks, Tsai explains. Staying gainfully employed was probably the second most popular response in our poll, because you need cash to pay for things like food, shelter, video games, and Star Wars tickets.

3. Earn a tech certification (44 percent plan to)
In a Spiceworks career study, 67% of IT pros said that tech certifications can help increase job opportunities, Tsai explains. Additionally, 55% said that having a tech certification can help you negotiate a higher salary. Also, some IT recruiters screen candidates based on certs. Therefore, many IT pros want to earn credentials that give their CVs a better chance of moving to the top of the stack.

4. Update documentation (29 percent plan to)
In Spiceworks, there are a few pieces of advice that get repeated often, Tsai says. One of them is to “document everything." Documentation is important because no one can remember everything, writing out the steps to processes reduces the chance for human error, and having written instructions helps ensue tasks can still get done if someone goes on vacation or leaves the company.

5. Update work resume / CV (27 percent plan to)
Speaking of documentation, having an up-to-date record of your qualifications and accomplishments at work can help you advance your career, Tsai notes. Perhaps that's why more than a quarter of IT professionals we talked to plan to update their CVs this year, especially because 68% of IT pros said they expect the tech job market to be favorable, and 45% plan to look for or take a new job this year.

6. Work on a long-term career plan (26 percent plan to)
In life, it's important to have goals, Tsai says. Many people know what they need to do today or this week, but do you know where you want to be in 3-5 years? Having a better understanding of your long-tem career objectives can help you make better short-term job decisions, determine how to prioritize you limited time, and get where you ultimately want to be in your career.

7. Automate repetitive IT tasks (25 percent plan to)
Automating a manual process might take a little bit of time initially, but once set up, it makes common tasks trivially easy to repeat, Tsai explains. In the long run, automation saves tons of time, educes human error, and takes much of the drudgery out of IT work. If you want to learn more about IT automation, join the PowerShell forum in Spiceworks, where you can learn with your peers.

8. Work on soft skills (23 percent plan to)
Many hiring managers say that given similarly qualified job applicants, they'll typically hire someone who gets along with others because you can teach technical skills, but it's much harder to train someone to have a good attitude, Tsai reveals. Often, soft skills like communication, empathy, and the ability to work on a team give job candidates a huge leg up over the competition. Perhaps that's why so many IT pros plan to work on their people skills this year.

9. Get hands-on with new tech (23 percent plan to)
It's one thing to read about a new technology, but when it comes to actually being able to implement it, nothing beats hands-on experience, Tsai confirms. For example, many IT pros like to set up test labs at work or at home so they can evaluate new technologies or gain exposure to scenarios they might not encounter on the job.

10. Take a tech-related training class (23 percent plan to)
The final IT career resolution ties back to always keep learning, which was at the top of the list, Tsai says. While it can be easy to learn tech basics from books or online resources, often it helps to have an experienced instructor and hands-on training when things get a little more complex. Many IT pros think IT training can help them get a better job, pass certification tests, and gain credibility in their field.

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