How to Stay on Top of Your IT Game / Education / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you're the type of person who doesn't like learning new things, IT is probably not for you. Here are ways to stay on top of your IT game.

As an IT employee or manager how many times, throughout the course of your career, have you:

  • Updated IT management software?
  • Learned and trained on a brand new software?
  • Adjusted your work to new technology, such as cloud computing or operating system(s)?

Too many times to count, right?

Even by the end of the quarter, there will be a new IT software update to download and learn about. Best practices and tips are all things that are taught in school, but don’t have to end in the classroom. As you grow within your industry, you’ll see systems improve and have to adapt to new ways to do your job.

The good news? Training does have its benefits. For instance, according to Competitive Position Salary Report, an entry level IT position salary average is $34,742 and in the following year, professionals are making around $53,827. This steep increase is a direct result of the skills learned in just one year in an IT job.

There’s a right and wrong way to adapt to this change, but in the end, the change will affect your career. Whether you’re on the positive side of the change is up to you.

Here are some ways employees can stay ahead of the technology curve through continuous education.

Related Article: Why Every Company Is a Technology Company

Common Practices

When learning new tips and tricks concerning IT, consider best practices with IT scenarios and software to help your continual education. It will streamline your work process and move you in the direction of becoming an expert in your field/industry.

Take for instance network management, what are best practices of network performance monitoring?

Some include: 

  • Know what normal network behavior is by baselining network behavior for a couple of weeks to a month
  • Have an escalation plan and reliable alert system when network administrators are unavailable in order to solve issues more quickly
  • Have reports for each intricate layer of IT
  • Create a High Availability (HA) system for when systems and monitors go out of service
  • Have systems, such as configuration management (CM) that adapt to new devices being introduced to the network and make sure it works with existing features.

IT workers should create lists of best practices ranging from web help desk to daily monitoring tasks to help learn and remind how to best accomplish their various jobs.

Technology-Enabled Informal Learning

Outside of your office and software resources, there are many IT communities dedicated to how-to’s, training and guidance that can help you continually learn. For example, the Thwack community features sections including: general IT forums, product forms, feature request, content exchange, free tools & trials, library & support and videos. Within each section are niche communities, blogs, and issues/products that deliver specific information IT managers need to know.

Other sources to consider include Slashdot, IT Managers Inbox and Training Industry. Slashdot is another IT forum and discussion board for IT topics, as well instructional videos. IT Managers Inbox provides articles about recent IT news and software, along with how to increase manager and leadership skills. This is a great tool for those IT workers that have recently been promoted. Training Industry has in addition to articles and blogs, webinars and conferences users can participate in and sign up for. 

Lastly, all of these resources are an easy way for workers to spend part of their day learning, without the expensive training courses or conferences.

Related Article: 11 User-Friendly Platforms That Are Best for Training

User Generated Content

Taking technology-enabled informal learning further, consider user generated content to continue your IT learning. YouTube has thousands of instructional videos from IT workers that can be a valuable free resource. Quora is another great resource for when you have specific questions. Your query is answered from experts around the globe and will lead you to further sites and blogs. In addition, other user generated content sources include: Reddit Tech Support, specific LinkedIn groups such as Desktop Support Professionals, IT Specialist Enterprise Network and Cloud Security Alliance;, and TechRepublic. All of these sites can help you share your knowledge, connect with those in your field as well as learn new tips concerning IT.

Teach Others

The key here is that you want to make use of not only those you’re teaching, but make it worthwhile for you. If you have particular experience with a nasty security breach years ago, share it with your younger colleagues. You’ll be surprised about the lessons you’ll learn by simply recounting past experiences.

By giving key points and takeaways to employees, you’ve become a resource and an expert which can add major value to your position within the organization.

But most importantly, training and presenting leads to greater employee satisfaction. The Houston Chronicle reports that “investment in training that a company makes shows the employees they are valued. The training creates a supportive workplace... Employees who feel appreciated and challenged through training opportunities may feel more satisfaction toward their jobs.”

By giving yourself this opportunity to give workplace satisfaction, it accomplishes more than just becoming an expert.

Furthermore, according to The Huffington Post, the American Society for Training and Development reported that companies with training initiatives “enjoy a 24 percent higher profit margin that those who spend less on training.” It’s a win-win situation.

All and all, as you go through your daily tasks, take advantage of your learning opportunities so you can turn around and teach others what you know; keeping the circle of IT moving forward.

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