Many roles in IT are, by nature, solitary work. But as user experience becomes more important, it is vital that your IT team be able to engage effectively with both internal and external consumers. Introverts may not choose to become more extroverted on their own. You may need to provide your team with both the encouragement and tools they need to increase their interactions with co-workers and customers. Consider these tips to help your introverted IT people engage more comfortably.
Expand their comfort zones
Many introverts who find personal interaction uncomfortable are quite chatty and engaged online. Continue to provide channels for continued online interaction, but also schedule some one-on-one and small-group meetings to slowly get them accustomed to increased engagement. Provide a mix of group and solo time for best results. Even those who make the leap to becoming more extroverted will likely need some alone time to recharge.
Bolster team engagement
Schedule team-building activities for your IT team to give them the opportunity to interact with employees in other departments and get to know them on an informal basis. Focus especially on group activities that require different competencies, work styles and cooperative efforts to succeed. The skills and relationships forged in team activities can be brought into the workplace to increase confidence and comfort on the job.
Share what they know
As with most people, introverts are more confident when speaking on topics they understand in depth. Begin a program for IT professionals to give presentations on their areas of expertise. Start with small groups or internal lunch-and-learns. Allow attendees to ask clarifying questions as needed, and solicit feedback on what they have learned.
Once the speaker has gained confidence in this controlled environment, consider larger venues for the most successful speakers. This can help position the employee and your organization as thought leaders.
As technology grows increasingly consumer-centric, it's critical that every employee is able to interact at every level. Change the internal perception of techies as being standoffish and introverted by providing opportunities for interaction. With increased visibility comes increased engagement, which is good for both the employee and the organization.
The general wisdom for job candidates states that having a diverse skill set is an advantage. The more you’re able to do, the broader your potential qualifications are for a wider range of jobs. But when it comes to the IT industry, diversification may actually work against you in your job search.
In many cases, it’s better to focus on and improve a particular set of tech skills, specializing in a certain area rather than attempting to be an IT jack-of-all-trades. Specialists can be beneficial for employers, and give you a greater boost as a job seeker. Here are some of the advantages of specialization for IT candidates.
A competitive edge
The IT job market is highly competitive. Tech candidates are competing with both seasoned professionals and newly trained college graduates, and there is increasing pressure on companies to hire the best of the best among IT talent. If you have a specialized IT skill set, you’re more desirable to employers — who prefer to choose rock stars over stage hands.
Specialists are more likely to get hired than candidates who are simply proficient in the required skill set. While specializing can limit your options, you’ll have a greater chance of landing the positions you are qualified for with comprehensive skills in a particular area.
Elevated authority and expertise
Networking is an essential part of any job search. IT specialists can enhance their profiles, and their chances at getting hired by top companies, by becoming authorities on their areas of specialization through various networks that employers and recruiters frequent.
Contributing to and leading discussions in your specialist area on social channels like LinkedIn, and IT-centric forums like Github, can help you create an online presence that will truly impress employers. Your authority and influence as a specialist will give you a significant networking advantage over other candidates.
Employers seek out specialists in part because they don’t require a lot of training, and need little-to-no supervision on the job. As an IT specialist, you can enjoy increased independence and autonomy in your career. Specialists are also more likely to be innovators, with the freedom and latitude to work on projects that interest them personally in addition to directly assigned projects.
Increased salary and job security
IT specialists can typically command higher salaries than their general-skills counterparts. Particularly in today’s business landscape, employers place a high value on tech specialists, who are able to deliver more value to the organization. This often extends to better perks and benefits in addition to salary.
Those who specialize in a particular skill set can also enjoy greater job security. If you’re difficult to replace, you will be more valuable to a company — and less likely to be laid off or downsized, even if the organization is forced to cut back on staff.
Having specialized IT skills as a job candidate can not only help you land a more desirable position with a great company, but can also serve as the foundation for a long and successful career in technology.