Speak Up! Communicating Your Worth as an IT Pro

Communicating your desires and needs to your supervisor can be complicated, not to mention why you think you deserve them. We’ve all been there, even CBT Nuggets trainer Ben Finkel.

During the info-packed webinar, Ben discussed ways to show your most redeeming qualities to your employer and shared personal stories of how he did this himself.

Here are some of the highlights:

00:38 – Learn to brag about yourself.
06:27 – Tailor your presentation.
09:37 – Practice, practice, practice.
12:48 – Don’t just elucidate, demonstrate!

We also have a Q&A section from the webinar!

Q: How should you react when asked a tech question that you really don’t know the answer to

There are two possible directions to go here.

If you don’t know the answer to it, your reaction should be, “I don’t know the answer to that.” If you try to lie your way around a question, it will show and sound worse. You can also say that you don’t know the answer, and explain the way that you would look it up. It’s okay to say that you don’t know the answer, and in fact, some interviewers will go out of their way to ask you questions you don’t know to see how you handle yourself in that situation.

If you kind of know the answer, still be honest. Explain what you do know. If they want more information on the things you’re uncomfortable with, tell them that you aren’t sure and explain how you will figure it out.

Q: I’m currently going to school for Cisco networking, but I’m not employed in that field. How do I communicate my worth as a network engineer during interviews if I don’t have direct experience?

The simple fact is that there’s value in having the experience. But if they brought you in after seeing your resume, they are aware of the fact that you don’t have experience. Highlight your energy, your willingness to learn, and the benefits that having someone new can bring.

There is some value in being brand new in the field. You can be groomed for their organization. You’re young, energetic, and enthusiastic about learning the technology. Usually, having no experience means you would be willing to take a little less pay, which could be of value for an employer.

Q: How can I be productive in my role when my team isn’t supportive?

If you’re in a big enough organization, you can move teams and still maintain a similar role. When you get to smaller organizations, you don’t always have those opportunities. You then have to use the chain of command and talk to whoever is in charge. You have to find someone you can communicate with about the challenges.

If it comes down to it, you can always find a way to move out of the organization.

Q: How does one move from a service management role to a technical hands-on role, without having technical certifications like the CCNA?

Particularly when you look at the world of Cisco, this one is tough. You’re expected to have these baseline certifications when you apply for these type of jobs.

Hopefully, you’re a subscriber at CBT Nuggets and can learn the technology behind the certs. But if you’re not, at the end of the day, you have to show that you know how to do the stuff. If you have the technical chops, you have to communicate that. Show that you have the skills and talk about how you’re willing to train and get the certification as a part of your journey with the organization.

Q: How do I communicate my worth/work as a database admin, when the corporate heads do not see solid evidence or can’t even understand what I do?

IT is funny like that. When you’re doing your job well, no one knows it. When you aren’t, everyone knows because things aren’t working.

You need to communicate what you do to your superiors through things like status reports, weekly meetings, or team meetings. You need to lay it out for them, you need to make it clear for them, and you need to be persistent about it. But you can also be polite about it. Find a way to engage them in your job. If the people you’re working for don’t value what you’re doing, it’s okay to take a look at somewhere else that will.

Q: I’ve been in the same role at my current company for three years and there is little room for promotion within my team. How can I stay motivated?

Lack of mobility inside an organization can be a challenge. Staying motivated is all about being involved, engaged, and interested in what I’m doing. If my team is this small, I’m going to direct things a lot more. Ask for the things you need to grow out your position. Keep yourself interested in the work you want to do and make sure that you’re able to do it to the best of your ability.

Q: How would you reply to a salary that is lower than the salary range for that position as listed on Salary.com and Payscale.com?

People are always looking to get a deal. This is about knowing your boundaries. You have to decide whether or not the salary you’re being offered is enough.

Make sure to ask if there’s a way that you can get to the salary that you’re wanting and if the organization has a path in mind to help you succeed if you work for them. There isn’t always going to be one, though.

Make sure you understand the true compensation. Maybe an organization is paying for your full health insurance, investing in a 401k plan, or something else.

If the salary is too low, you have to be willing to say, “No.”

Q: Most employers require a lot experience in different technologies and skills. How can I persuade a manager to hire me if I lack certain skills?

No one has all the skills. Point out that you have the skills you have, and that you’re willing to learn the skills that they need. An IT pro’s skill set is constantly changing.

Communicating your worth isn’t always easy, but hopefully, Ben’s tips will help you in your pursuit for career success.

Not a CBT Nuggets subscriber? Start your free week today.

CBT Nuggets has everything you need to learn new IT skills and advance your career — unlimited video training and practice exams, virtual labs, validated learning with in-video quizzes, accountability coaching, and access to our exclusive community of professionals. Learn more about the CBT Nuggets Learning Experience.