4 ways to stand out as an IT management candidate

By Robert Half on 27 November 2016

Research from the Robert Half Salary Guide shows high demand for skilled IT candidates, with 57% of CTOs/CIOs willing to increase salaries for top talent while 32% plan to increase bonuses.

If you’re looking for upward progression into IT management, keep these 4 tips in mind to stand out as a prospective candidate.

1. Niche skills

In Singapore, 96% of chief information and technology officers cite a lack of niche skills among talent as a main concern - which means that IT professionals with specialised skills are now in high demand.

To be a top IT management candidate, position yourself competitively through acquiring professional certifications, such as the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) or Project Management Professional (PMP).

External professional accreditation for niche skills provides validation to potential hiring managers or future employers, and signals that you are committed to developing your skills in that niche.

Having an in-depth understanding of programming languages that are in demand, such as Java and Python will also help you stand out in a sea of generalists who are seeking out a management position.

2. Cross-functional understanding

At the senior level, the job scope of an IT manager goes beyond just managing IT-related projects and issues. You will need to understand what drives other departments as strategic-level projects tend to cut across the organisation.

You may want to go one step further and undergo some training in cross-functional skills such as business accounting, customer support and marketing communications.

In fact, skilled IT professionals with finance and business awareness stand out as strong candidates for positions in IT management. Senior IT managers often need to make strategic-level decisions that affect other parts of the business.

To ensure you stand out, start developing your financial awareness as an IT professional and invest in staff training and development. Building a broad scope portfolio can help accelerate your learning and broaden your exposure.

3. Knowledge about industry tech trends

Staying on top of industry trends is essential for IT professionals to move forward in their career – and even more so for IT management candidates, who are sought after for field-specific knowledge.

Keep on top of how emerging technology development in areas such as big data, cyber-security, cloud computing and IoT will affect your specialisation. Engage yourself by networking with fellow professionals, attending industry events or speaking to recruiters who specialise in your field.

Another way to be up-to-date on tech trends is to follow developments in different industries. According to CIO, some technological trends may originate from one industry before seeing useful application in another.

For example, the healthcare industry was using “big data” before the retail or banking industries picked it up. In these instances, looking outside your industry may pay dividends for your career.

4. Stakeholder management

Many IT professionals start their career with technically-focused roles, such as programmers or analysts. However, when moving up the career ladder from a technical role to IT management, you are often required to have more face-time with various stakeholders – both within and outside the organisation.

Because of this, companies look for IT managers who possess the ability to communicate clearly to stakeholders , which involves engaging the right people in the right format at the right time.

IT managers who are successful in stakeholder management help the company deliver transformative, organisation-wide projects successfully.

Get a head start in stakeholder management by getting exposure to a variety of people at work – volunteer to meet new clients when the opportunity arises. At the same time, establish yourself as a domain expert and point of reference within your organisation by building a consistent and credible portfolio.

Stand out as a top IT management candidate

As both businesses and business growth continue to be technology-driven, there will always be high demand for talented IT managers. Take on board these key hiring trends to propel your IT career to the management level.

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