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April 25, 2014
By TEKsystems

If you are like countless other professionals looking for new career opportunities in IT, you've probably considered re-entering the job market this year. After all, IT personnel are in high demand and changing companies can lead to new responsibilities and greater compensation. However, before you make that leap, it is worth considering whether you can advance within your current company. A lot of times, a new approach to your career and your future is all it takes to turn a seemingly dead-end position into a stepping stone to a greater future.

Here are four tips for advancing your IT career at your current place of work.

1. Develop a plan
One of the biggest impediments to advancing your career, whether you're in IT or any other field, is a lack of planning. You don't need a career plan in place to be a good worker, but you do need one to advance through the company ranks quickly, as career expert Shanna B. Van Ness recently emphasized for The Huffington Post. The writer noted that with a career plan in place, you'll be better able to stay focused on your professional objectives. Without a plan, on the other hand, you may become more complacent and directionless.

This plan does not have to be written in stone, Van Ness asserted. On the contrary, it is very likely that your objectives and means of getting there will evolve over time.

A key aspect of these plans should be milestones. Establishing milestones not only helps to ensure you're moving in the right direction, but also results in the satisfying feeling of having made definite progress. Van Ness noted that obtaining a particularly important license or certification is a good example of such a milestone.

2. Get the skills you need
It is very likely that, in order to advance to the higher stages of your ideal career, you'll need to acquire a number of advanced skills. This is particularly true in the field of IT, where mastery of diverse technologies and systems will prove essential. 

To this end, you must be willing to register for IT training, certification classes and any other relevant program that can provide the experience and knowledge you need to prepare for possible promotions at your company.

3. Prove your commitment
Proving commitment is essential for advancing your career, as entrepreneur James Caan recently asserted for LinkedIn. Caan noted that he would never consider promoting an employee who has not demonstrated serious investment in the company.

Critically, he pointed out that simply working at a given company for several years is not sufficient evidence of commitment. If you retain your position for a long time and assume that this will show your passion for the organization, you are likely mistaken. Only by putting forth extra effort and top-notch performance can you really show how committed you are to your job and the company as a whole.

4. Take the lead
Business decision-makers want to promote leaders, not followers. This means  you must demonstrate leadership in your current position, even if you don't supervise other employees. One strategy in these cases, as Caan pointed out, is becoming a problem solver at work. In most businesses there will be areas that operate suboptimally. If you can identify these problem points and offer suggestions for overcoming them, you will make a very positive impression on your superiors.

"Every manager is impressed by self-starters, and somebody who takes the initiative in areas where the business may be weak is putting themselves high up the list for a promotion," Caan wrote.

Taking the initiative will demonstrate your ability to act decisively and confidently, which effectively reveals your talent for leadership.

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