An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Every IT professional knows that computer data needs protection from disaster. Ensuring fast, relatively painless recovery from disaster is a key responsibility. Yet many IT workers have not looked ahead and established their own disaster recovery plan—ready to be implemented if a job-related disaster such as acquisition and layoff should occur.
Preparedness is prudent in today’s often-turbulent employment environment, but it doesn’t have to be focused on the negative. In fact, the more upbeat, positive and forward-looking the IT worker can be, the better the overall prospects.
Every IT disaster recovery plan relies fundamentally on planning ahead—backing up the present system and establishing policies, procedures and safeguards that reduce risk of data loss. Ultimately, disaster recovery is about restoring the IT system to the status quo as quickly and inexpensively as possible. A personal plan is similar in form and function but with one very significant difference.
A personal disaster recovery plan will not be effective if it seeks merely to return the worker to a previous starting point. Employment conditions demand increasing knowledge, experience and education. Standing still is unfortunately the same as falling back. Gaining ground and springing ahead is the goal.
The IT worker takes a forward-looking approach by determining whether he has the knowledge, skills and education to step into the shoes of a colleague or manager a grade or two above or in a lateral position that requires additional skills. Examining the issue from this perspective helps the skilled worker look outward in order to begin to prepare for the next job.
Preparing for the next job—either higher-level or lateral—is what personal disaster recovery planning is all about. The worker who has furthered herself while in her present job stands out in a positive way to prospective employers, ready to fill the shoes of a supervisor or colleague who leaves or is promoted.
Begin a personal disaster recovery plan by performing an inventory of experience, certification and education. Determine where the gaps are from present capabilities to desired ones. Talk with a supervisor and colleagues to detail what the next higher-level or lateral job entails. Check with the HR department for specific job descriptions.
Visit tcc.comptia.org, an online site matching job titles to responsibilities and qualifications, to get a good feel for industry standards. Also visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, which details employment projections and projected job requirements, at www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm. Going through the employment section of this Web site will also help you identify the demographic and economic trends that are causing some areas of IT to grow at a much faster pace than others.
Once your inventory and research are completed, close the identified gaps between present capabilities and desired ones through training, certification and education. Some employers are willing to assist employees in skills upgrading.
Another important element in personal disaster recovery preparation is to maintain and expand a circle of contacts, including present and past colleagues, supervisors, employers, teachers and friends. Networking is often one of the best ways to find a new job, should the need arise.
Networking is even more crucial to the success of an entrepreneur. Starting a small IT consulting firm or other business can be an option when job disaster occurs. There are many low-cost courses available on how to start a business. IT workers who have earned industry-recognized certifications are well positioned to win clients.
The importance of soft skills—good communication, project management and leadership—has been emphasized over the past few years and for good reason. These skills can impress employers as well as potential clients. Acquire these skills as part of a disaster recovery process.
If you take only two things away from this article, I hope they will be:
- You owe it to yourself to create a personal employment disaster recovery plan.
- Your plan should not simply seek the status quo, but should aim instead to improve your position through certification, education and experience. 8
John A. Venator is president and CEO of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, the largest global trade association supporting the IT industry. CompTIA has more than 19,000 members in 89 countries.