Over the last several months I have had the pleasure and privilege of writing "The Career Changer's Checklist" series for InformIT.com readers. During the writing of this 13-article series, I have been in the process of changing careers.
As many of you know, changing careers in IT—or any other sector—in this current market is challenging at best. I followed all the suggestions that I have given in this series and have still experienced challenges locating the right job/career.
A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. My troubleshooting skills went to work. Analyzing, theorizing, hypothesizing, scrutinizing. All those izings. What I came up with is the following:
- It is important to have a good network of friends and co-workers.
- It is important to know what you can do.
- It is important to know what you know.
But the keys to finding a good job in any sector, including IT, are the following:
- Determining what you call your skills and talent
- What others call your skill set
- Making sure that your names for your skills and talents are the same as others' names for them
It's all in the label. We all hate labels, but if you mislabel yourself and your skill set, you will never find a good job.
Another way to say this is that it is all in the NAME you give to a job, a career, a skill set (this has historical roots). It is what you call what you can do.
Have you ever gone into a hardware store to look for some small item—a pipe connector, for example—and not know what to ask for? You say, "I want one of these," and you show the old part to the clerk. And the clerk in the store looks at you like you are a complete moron.
But when you go back at a later date and ask for the part by name you feel like a genius. You know what a street elbow is and what it is used for.
WOW. The key is the label. The name.
The same is true when you are looking for a job. You know what you can do and you have an idea what it's called, but others might have a different label or a different name for your skill set. You are using different labels, you are speaking different languages.
In the last few weeks I have learned, through trial and error that this is a major problem in IT. It also is a problem in virtually every market sector known to humanity.
The labels we use for jobs and skills have gotten way out of hand. Unless you know what others call what you do, you will have a very difficult time finding a good job.
Let me give you some examples of recent searches I have done. Each of these is for the same job, but different companies and sectors label the job with a different title. They use a different name than I would use.
My standard search on the job boards is for a TRAINER who offers IT training. That produces a variety of results. Everything from Microsoft trainer, to fitness trainer, to simulation trainer for the military comes up in the results.
Sure I could filter this a bit better, but the revelation that I found is that the labels, names, used for an IT trainer differs from sector to sector.
Here is a list of the names used by companies for those who offer IT training as a trainer. When you look at the job descriptions, they vary a little bit, but not that much.
These are all for trainers who offer IT training:
- Technical Trainer
- Technology Trainer
- Technical Instructor
- Technology Instructor
- Training Specialist
- Training Analyst
- Training Consultant
- Learning Analyst
- Learning Consultant
- Training Consultant
- Education Specialist
- Education Analyst
- Education Consultant
- Training Developer
- Training Engineer
- Education Engineer
- Learning Engineer
For those looking to manage or direct training operations the following names are used:
- Training Manager
- Training Director
- Learning Manager
- Learning Director
- Director of Technical Training
- Director of Training
- Director of Education
- Director of Learning and Development
- Director of Learning
- Learning Manager
- Education Manager
- Education Director
- Technical Training Lead
So what is the difference between all these options? The company or sector that is looking.
The military will use one name, whereas the healthcare community will use another name for the same job. The banking and finance sector will call a trainer by one of the variants. IT companies will simply call a trainer a Trainer or an Instructor depending on the vendor that they want the person to support. Education will call a trainer a Training Specialist.
So if you simply search for a TRAINER you will have a tough time finding the job. If you know what you do and what others call what you do, you will have a much easier time.
Let's look at another example.