IT Career Builder's Toolkit

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Overview

Your complete guide to building your information technology career in any economy

The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit features market-focused skills and proven methods you can use to jump-start and advance your career. While other books cover just the mechanics of preparing your résumé, writing a cover letter, and interviewing, this book provides all that plus additional insight from IT career development expert, Matt Moran, to help you plan and ...

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Overview

Your complete guide to building your information technology career in any economy

The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit features market-focused skills and proven methods you can use to jump-start and advance your career. While other books cover just the mechanics of preparing your résumé, writing a cover letter, and interviewing, this book provides all that plus additional insight from IT career development expert, Matt Moran, to help you plan and create a rewarding IT career over the long term.

The toolkit approach allows you to use this book to suit your unique needs:

  • Are you new to the IT field? Benefit by reading the book cover to cover.
  • Just need to fine-tune your IT career? Choose a topic and dive in.

Understand and prepare for the various and changing factors that affect your career in both positive and negative ways. Learn how to

  • Present the value of your technical skills in the job market
  • Position yourself as the primary commodity of your career
  • Remove the guesswork out of job searches
  • Highlight on-the-job skills and gain meaningful professional exposure

The companion CD-ROM includes career management tools such as résumé and cover letter templates, forms to track important contacts, and self-assessment tools. Start or further your consulting career with sample proposals, opportunity tracking forms, and a time-tracking and billing database. Financial tools, including budget and cash-flow summary worksheets, help you gain financial well-being. Use the Value-Added Technologist presentation to gain a clear understanding of the career-building process and how to use the toolkit to build a dynamic career.

Most of all, have fun! Every year, people advance along the path to career stardom. Let Matt help you to be one of them through his career philosophy “Do not accept mediocrity as a career objective–demand more of yourself.”

“I want you to see the [toolkit] techniques as one more set of skills to adopt in your overall career development program. They are skills, just like your technical skills, that you will use daily during your career. Just as you adopt new technical skills, use the toolkit to define those soft skills that you must learn and put to use. The result will be a more well-rounded and complete professional skill-set.”

~ Matthew Moran, from the Introduction

Companion CD-ROM

The CD-ROM contains valuable tools, forms, spreadsheets, and documents that work with the Toolkit to help you master key areas of your career development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587131561
  • Publisher: Cisco Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2005
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Moran is a consultant specializing in strategic IT initiatives, IT staff development, automated workflow and document assembly applications, and business process re-engineering. His articles on technology automation and professional development have appeared in The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal, Windows .NET Scripting Solutions Journal, Techies.com, Informit.com, Power Media Group’s Technology magazines, and several others. His presentations on technology careers, innovation, and creativity provide dynamic motivation with a real-world course of action. With more than 17 years experience providing business solutions as a business analyst, project manager, business owner, CIO, and VP of technology, Matt has had the opportunity to help many technology professionals create rewarding careers.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I An Introduction to Career Building

Chapter 1 The Toolkit Approach to Career Development

Justifying the Need for an IT Toolkit

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 2 Career Building Defined

The Danger of a Tool-Driven Mindset

A Job Is Not a Career

Perspectives on Career Development: Careers Are Nonlinear

Perspectives on Career Development: A Working Plan Makes Tedious or Unrewarding Jobs Bearable

Career Building Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 3 Information Technology: A Great Career

Why IT Is a Great Career

Options

Performance-Based Advancement

Opportunities for Continuous Learning

Pay and Perks

What About Outsourcing?

Outsourcing Is About Value, Not Costs

The Jobs That Won’t Be Outsourced

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 4 Defining Yourself: Aptitudes and Desires

Considerations in Your Career Choice

Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Needs

Pay

Insurance

Training

Commute and Travel Time

Working Conditions (People, Culture, Environment, Hours)

Future Growth Potential

Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Desires

Factors to Help Decide Your Career Path: Skills

Beware: Analysis Paralysis

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Part II Filling Your Toolkit

Chapter 5 Self-Assessment

The Power of Self-Assessment

The Dangers of Self-Assessment

Four Questions of Self-Assessment

Where the Four Questions Came From

Question 1: Do I Make My Employer’s Job Much Easier or Much More Difficult?

Question 2: If I Gave Notice Today, Would My Employer Have an Instant Sense of Relief or Dread?

Question 3: Do I Perform My Job Better Than My Employer Could Perform My Job If He/She Needed To?

Question 4: If Asked How I Can Improve in My Job, Do I Cite External Factors—People and Resources—or Do I Take Responsibility?

Conclusion: Making It Personal

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 6 Attitude

The Effect of Attitude on Your Career

Positive Mental Attitude

PMA Is Not a Panacea

PMA and a Plan

Beware: Two Pitfalls of Attitude

Unrealistic Expectations

Skill Deficits

The Role of Attitude

What You Think of Your Employer

The “Us Versus Them” Mentality

Management Got There by Luck or Schmoozing, Alone

Your Coworkers

Humble Arrogance: The Attitude of Personal Value

Ownership

The Myth of the Self-Made Man

Attitude Checks

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 7 Communication Skills

Defining Communication Skills

The Benefit of Communication Skills: An Effective Communicator Is Viewed as More Intelligent

Written Communications

General Guidelines

The Letter

E-Mail

The Well-Crafted Paragraph

The Well-Crafted Page

Verbal Communication

Conversation

Presentations and Training

Don’t Wait Until You Are Asked to Speak to Learn This Vital Skill

Cover No More Than Three to Five Main Points

Work from an Outline, Not a Script

Look at the Audience

A Brief Note on Listening

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 8 Technical Skills

Your Technology Skills

The Role of Learning

The Fear of Obsolescence

Another Perspective: Transcendent Skills

Reducing the Parts

Tips to Speed Up the Learning Process

Start with Concepts

Don't Study What You Know

Don't Worry About Catching the Latest Trend

Focus on Solutions, Not Technology

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 9 The Cover Letter

The Purpose of Your Cover Letter

Three Vital Ingredients in Your Cover Letter

Gratitude for the Opportunity

A Significant Accomplishment

Your Interest in Becoming a Producer

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 10 The Résumé

Your Ambassador to the Professional World

The Purpose of Your Résumé

Determining Who Is Looking at Your Résumé

Busy Employers

Disinterested Employers

Résumé Basics

Length: Brevity Is Key

No Paragraphs

Bulleted Lists

Documenting Your Professional Experience

A Note About Certifications/Degrees on Your Résumé

Guidelines for Writing Your Résumé

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Part III Putting Your Toolkit to Use

Chapter 11 Breaking into IT

Correcting Perception

IT Happens Outside of IT

Other Avenues into IT

Ask for What You Want

Ask for Advice

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 12 Building an Active Contact List

Enjoy People

Develop a Personality

Have Other Areas of Interest

Engage in Conversation

Track and Remember Your Contacts

Share Opportunity

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 13 The Job Search

Getting What You Want Requires Wanting Something

Defining the Job Search

Remember: Looking for Work Is Work

The Toolkit Approach to Finding a Job

Job Search Outline

A Job Search Comparison

Method 1: The Standard “Passive” Job Search

Method 2: The Proactive Job Search

Method 1 Versus Method 2

A Word About the Out-of-Town Search

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 14 The Interview

Practice Your Interview Skills

Be Prepared to Answer Difficult Questions

What Professional Accomplishment Are You Most Proud Of?

What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength? Greatest Weakness?

Why Are You Leaving Your Last Job?

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

After the Interview

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 15 Salary Negotiations and Employment Agreements

Start Early

Know What You Want

Understand the Employer’s Perspective

Be Creative

Be Firm

Your Worth to the Company

Negotiations Never Fail

Be Flexible

Employment Agreements

Seek Legal Counsel

Assumptions

Deliverables

Bonuses and Performance Perks

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 16 On-the-Job Promotion

On the Job

Maintaining and Building Your Network

Identifying Areas for Success

Attitude

Working for a Tyrant and Other Joys

Determine Whether Your Boss’s Actions Are Personality or Personal

Understand That People Are “Where They Are”

Take an Objective Path to Evaluating What They Say

Handling Criticism

Determine Whether What Someone Is Saying Is True

Determine Whether It Is Something You Need to Change

Talk to Someone About a Behavior

Don’t Swallow Your Pride—Control It

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Part IV More Options to Build Your Career

Chapter 17 The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home

Careers That Lend Themselves to Telecommuting

The Benefits for the Employee

The Benefits for the Employer

The Concerns for the Employee

The Concerns for the Employer

Conclusion: Next Steps

Keys to Successful Telecommuting

Project-Based/Free-Agent Mindset

Apply Discipline

Clear Expectations

Technologies for the Telecommuter

VPNs

IM Services

Resources for the Home Worker

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 18 The Toolkit Approach to Consulting

The Consulting Life

The Benefits

Respect

Schedule

Exciting Projects

Compensation

The Pitfalls

Business Planning: Taxes, Legal

Billing

Current Workload

Inaccurate Records

Trading Time for Dollars

Schedule

Ongoing Marketing

Ideas on Getting Published

The Process of Getting Published

Resources for the Consultant

CD-ROM Materials for the Consultant

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 19 The Move to Management

Leadership

Process and Time Management

Critical Skills You Need Now

Presentation and Meeting Skills

Team-Building Skills

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Promote Your Team and Its Members

Foster an Environment That Allows for (Even Celebrates) Failure

Create a Project/Contract Mentality with Those You Report to and Those Who Report to You

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Part V The Value-Added Technologist

Chapter 20 Make Yourself Indispensable

A Word About Value

Being Proactive

Understanding Technology’s Role in the Organization

Maintain a Business-First Mentality

Create Standards, Automation, or a Programmer’s Toolkit

Create a Peer Knowledge Network

Be Known As the Go-To Resource

Be Ready and Willing to Take on the Necessary Responsibility

Have Experts You Call On for Your Organization

Be Passionate About Something!

Never Blame, and Always Have a Corrective Plan

Adopt Concept Over Process

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 21 Concept Over Process

What to Expect

What Not to Expect

COP Objectives

COP Origins

What Is a Process-Driven Mindset?

The Role of Technology

Role 1: Storage and Retrieval of Information

Role 2: The Automation of Delivery of Product or Service

Moving from Process Driven to Concept Driven

A Concentric View

A Note About Time

Developing Proactive Solutions

A Warning/Suggestion

COP Is Not About Technology!

Start with the Goal of Business

Understand Your Objective as an Employee

What About Mission Statements?

From Goal to Analysis

Understand the Industry

Understand the Business: The Organization’s Role in Its Industry

Understand the Workflow

Understand the Relationships: Interactions/Dependencies

Workflow Analysis

Project Definition

Myth of Limitation

What If?

Congruencies, Incongruencies, and Omissions

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 22 The Role of Mentoring

Mentor Characteristics

Mentoring Others

What Qualifies Me as a Mentor?

The Role of Mentor Is Not a Power Position

Encourage and Stretch

Point to Other Mentors or Resources

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Chapter 23 Financial Control

The Impact of Finances on Career Building

Financial Control Creates Options

Financial Control Is Largely Mental

Money Is a Tool

Debt and Spending

Some Basics of Financial Planning and Stability

Defining a Basic Budget

Defining Your Core Needs

Establishing Your Spending History

Creating Your Budget

Cash Flow Summary: A Weekly Plan

Conclusion

Actions & Ideas

Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2005

    Most have for any professional seeking improvement or change

    First The IT Career Builder¿s Toolkit book will help any beginner or an experience person in his career, not only in the IT industry. I think that all the related themes will help any professional in any industry. Basically it focus on the IT field you can transport the knowledge to any industry. Mat Moran has put together the most practical guide for your career. While reading the book I found out that some concepts that he explains and have apply in his career and in the development on this book, I once have used them as part of mine own personal career building program. The book has five parts: introduction to career building, filling your toolkit, putting your toolkit to use, more options to build your career and value-added technologist. Each chapter of these parts has an introduction and conclusion with a brief exercise in order to start building your toolkit. The structure and continuity of the book is well defined. I have been in the IT industry for almost nine years. As the book states I am sure that the IT field is one of the most amazing professional. You need to stay focus and update if not you will start getting behind. The chapter of boundaries and benefits of working at home has helped me in setting the basics for my transition from an office cubicle to my home office. The references on some of the chapters to other books and tools in the CD are great references to work your career. Another chapter very useful chapter and a most read monthly will be the Attitude chapter, because reminds you and help you see how are you acting in your job. The CD-ROM tools are very useful and set the frame work to improve your career. You will find the framework of the toolkit, tracking tools, self-assessments tools, resume and cover letter templates consultant tools like proposals templates, time-tracking and billing database based on Microsoft Access and finally some financial tools for budgeting and cash-flow. The end of chapter exercises I found them very useful to create your framework while you are reading the book. You will have an assessment of your actual situation and will help you to accelerate the use of the tools on the CD. The book is a very easy reading you can probably read it on a long flight without any problem. I think that on a second decision you can add some other chapter about job search on the internet, head hunters, more soft skills development and references and others topics that will be useful for a career change or improvement. I will highly recommend this book to have it in your personal library as a reference and to use it on regular bases. It will help on your daily professional and personal life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2005

    A manual for your IT Career

    Today, I have finished The IT Career Builder's Toolkit, and I an honestly say that I have added it to my recommended reading material. I feel it is a must read for those starting out in life, and to those who have found their lifelong career path. For those starting out, The IT Career Builder's Toolkit serves as a manual for career building. Matt sets expectations for those new to the field, and he helps that on a path to success. For those who are in the field, Matt reminds the seasoned IT Pro to reflect were they current are in their profession, and he urges them to rise to the top of their field. Throughout the book, Matt provides tools, guidance, and experience that can be added to your own career toolkit. I could hear him asking me, 'Are you planning on being an average professional?' The IT Career Builder's Toolkit is a must read for anyone in the professional workplace.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2005

    Great book for someone looking to enter the field

    The IT Career Builder¿s Toolkit ISBN: 1587131560 The IT Career Builder¿s Toolkit by Inti Shaikh was something that was very unexpected from Cisco. This book is not a technical book but more of a reference guide for those looking to break into the field. The book is broken down into the following five main sections: 1. An introduction to career building This deals with defining what a career is like in IT and the benefits of pursuing it. It goes over the perks and risks involved with the industry such as fast promotions as well as the risk of outsourcing to the industry. This section provides a good foundation for those who might be interested in a career change or those who are just entering the work force. 2. Filling your toolkit This section goes over the skills that are going to be necessary to work in the IT industry. Most people think that if you are technically strong you will not have any problems landing a good job. This is not the case. With the current job market, employers are putting a lot more emphasis on soft skills. Soft skills deal with communication, interaction with others, as well as many other aspects. Information is provided on resume creation as well as putting together a good cover letter. 3. Putting your toolkit to use The third section deals with the actual job hunt, interviewing, as well as salary negotiation. I do not have that much to say about this section. Most people looking for work have searched the internet high and low for information regarding interviewing. There were not really any new ideas or concepts presented in this section but the author did a good job bundling the information together. 4. More options to build your career If you are thinking about consulting, then this section is for you. The author did a good job breaking the myth that a consultants life is great because they set their own hours and charge whatever they want. For those of us who have done consulting before know that this could not be any further from the truth. So this section is a great read before jumping into that fire. 5. The value-added technologist This presents some good ideas on how to make the company think you are a star. I personally think that should be done by working you tail off but that does not always work out. This sections also deals with passing on knowledge to workers who are at a lower level. I am still pretty shocked to see Cisco Press come out with a book that was not a technical reference or certification guide. That said, I thought that the book was a quick and easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who was thinking about getting into the industry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Soft Technology

    Like a runner benefits from an hour in the weight room after 40 miles on the track, so the IT technician will do well to spend some time reading the IT Career Builder's Toolkit by Matthew Moran. You do not have to be technical at all to read this book. It is full of good common sense advice from an information technology perspective. It is the first Cisco Press book that has caught the eye of my non-technical friends. Moran emphasizes the development of the soft skills that are so necessary to really succeed in any career. He explains that we must become agnostic about which technology or process we use and more cognizant of the big picture of how technology can accomplish business needs and profitability. Concerning this focus he asks the reader, 'Are you a pure technologist or a systems analyst?' There are 3 helpful sections on the CD. Career Management Tools has examples such as resumes, cover letters, opportunity tracker, self assessment form, and status reports. Consulting Tools has tips on sales presentations, case studies, and solution selling. Financial Tools, includes budget and cash flow planning and sample spreadsheets. The book is divided into short easy to read chapters. I particularly enjoyed Moran's writing style which consists of well organized paragraphs consisting of tight punchy sentences. The book is the result of the author's years of experience of applying solutions for his employers and customers through managing his own and others IT skills. Before you read one more technical manual, I recommend you read the IT Career Builder's Toolkit!

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