Career advice: Keeping up with the industry

A Premier 100 IT Leader also has advice on getting your company to perform a market adjustment for IT salaries

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Daniel Wakeman

Title: Vice president and CIO

Company: Educational Testing Service

Wakeman is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about keeping up to date, lobbying for a market adjustment of salary, and more. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com .

What is the single best way to keep up with changes in our industry? By being involved. Participation in standards bodies, governance groups, IT networking groups and/or developing solutions are excellent ways for CIOs to stay in touch. Get an iPad and/or an Android device, and be involved in social media of all types. Set up news feeds from thought leaders such as Computerworld and others. Another option I have used is study tours where we visit leading technology companies such as Microsoft , Google , Apple and Cisco .

Several years ago I was hired into my company with a lower starting salary than job averages in my area. At the time, the economy was starting to sink, and I knew I was lucky to be getting hired anywhere, so I don't blame my employer for that. I just couldn't say no at the time.

I really enjoy working for my company, but I see other IT jobs opening up in the area with better pay, same working hours and the same benefits. I don't want to leave my company, but money always talks. If it were a few thousand dollars, I wouldn't even think about it, because I pretty much enjoy everything about my current job (other than the salary). But the difference is about $12,000 more than what I am making. I know that I can't just go and ask for a bump like that because my company has caps on raises. I'm kind of torn on how to even bring up the subject to my boss without making myself sound greedy or unappreciative. I know my company respects and appreciates what I do for them, and I don't want to flag myself as "that guy who wants more money." Any suggestions that you might have would be very helpful. In situations like this, it is best to seek a market adjustment rather than a raise. Nearly all companies have a process for adjusting pay based on the market, so find out who in your company manages this process. If you and others leave for similar positions at nearby companies, the company will soon realize that it isn't offering competitive salaries. Help them recognize they have a potential challenge. Be honest and express your desire to stay. If no market adjustments are forthcoming, you unfortunately may have to leave. Be sure you are ready to follow up, so that you don't lose credibility.

If you were asked today to cut 20% of your staff, what skills or qualities would you most want to retain? Architecture (both technical and application), security, business analysis, business relations, senior developers, key DBA staff.

I worked in support at a newspaper for eight years until being laid off in a mass downsizing in April. I feel I should get out of the newspaper business, but I have a ton of know-how in things like Web publishing and desktop publishing. Any ideas on leveraging this knowledge in another vertical? Online content is growing rapidly, and much of it is in need of a professional touch. Many companies now realize that social media is here to stay, and that it's having a significant influence on sales and company perception. Your background is relevant here and may be just what many savvy companies are looking for. Start your own blog and show what you can do. Be involved as an expert in this area. Get noticed.

Read more about management and careers in Computerworld's Management and Careers Topic Center.

This story, "Career advice: Keeping up with the industry" was originally published by Computerworld.

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