Good v Great: 5 easy ways to be a better IT pro

Marc Thaler

If you really think about it, IT pros have a lot in common with comedic actors who specialize in the art of improvisation: They are routinely put on the spot, expected to perform under pressure and, no matter the degree of difficulty, required to deliver.

The difference, of course, is they aren’t looking for laughs.

Pressure – specifically how you handle it – is a giant part of the job. According to the second annual “Stress and Pride” survey by IT talent management firm TEKsystems:

  • 31% of IT pros say their current work is the most stressful of their career.
  • 81% of entry and mid-level IT pros say stress causes them to search for a new job.
  • 65% of senior IT pros also say stress leads them to look for a new job.

Despite the role stress can play, most IT pros still take pride in their work. The survey found that more than three-quarters of entry and mid-level staffers (76%) as well as senior IT pros (79%) would still pursue careers in the field.

The ability to thrive under pressure is certainly a necessary strength for succeeding as an IT pro. What are some tangible tips that can also help you excel? Here are five suggestions:

Call on the community
If joining online forums isn’t the most common suggestion, it certainly ranks among them. Countless IT pros with a wide range of experience cite the significance of peer-to-peer involvement. Sure, manuals can offer instructions and some level of understanding concepts. But it’s the insight – and quite often encouragement – other IT pros provide that truly makes a difference.

For example, IT resource Spiceworks says on its home page that “6 million IT pros use our free apps and community to simplify their workday.” You’ll have no shortage of brains to pick.

In fact, you’ll likely find they offer the following advice:

Document everything
Do you have the pulse of the IT environment you oversee? How you answer this question may well determine the speed with which you can consistently identify – and address – IT issues. Making note of all procedures, updates and fixes you conduct may seem like a nuisance in the moment. But you’ll discover it’s a blessing when the time comes to take action. And it will.

You’ll thank yourself for it.

Put your BDR plan in place
If you don’t have a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan in place, you’ll wish it was possible to turn back the clock when data is lost, stolen or compromised. Think of BDR as an insurance policy. Now do a quick mental audit of the assets you consider most critical to the business.

With that picture painted, what’s the cost of coverage worth to you?

Take time to test
Maybe it isn’t always possible, but the more you can test in a lab environment, the better. Doing so affords you the opportunity to experience the good, bad and possibly ugly aspects of a product or feature without affecting users.

That’s a headache you should aim to avoid at all costs.

‘Google’ it
The ultimate resource tool is right under your nose (better yet, it’s at your fingertips). A search engine can be your best friend – particularly when time is not.