I have been very lucky in my career to date. Over the years I have been given the privilege of working in some great roles which I have thoroughly enjoyed. But perhaps it’s not luck which has helped me get these roles? In this blog post I’ll explain my attitudes towards work in the hope that it helps you land your dream job too.
While the traits below may seem unrelated at first they’re actually very tightly related as you will see by the end of this post.
As the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy”. Whether you’re in a job interview, talking to peers, chatting to your boss, always be honest. As another saying goes, “Trust takes years to build and seconds to break”. If you get caught lying in a job interview you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be getting an offer. If you get caught lying to peers or superiors, your credibility will take a hit which you may never recover from.
Everyone respects honesty. It shows integrity and proves your trustworthiness.
Be passionate about what you do. You spend most of your life at work so make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. After all, to use another saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
When you’re passionate the sky is the limit. Studying is fun and work is exciting. You’re full of enthusiasm and eagerness to be the best you can be. If you don’t know or understand something, you’ll keep at it until you’re an expert. Nothing is a chore and nothing is too hard. You always go the extra mile, not because you have to but because you want to.
Employers value passionate employees very highly, even if they don’t have all of the required skills. This is because skills can be learned but passion cannot. Further to this, finding a passionate employee is actually quite rare.
The above traits rely highly on this one. For example, if you’re in a job interview and you’re asked about a vendor’s product which you haven’t worked with - you should be honest about your lack of experience while also explaining that your passion for the work will ensure you’ll get up to speed in no time. In order to convey the message properly though you must first have the confidence to back yourself. It’s sad to see very capable people miss out on great opportunities because of a lack of confidence or because they undersell themselves.
Having said this you also need to make sure that you don’t over commit yourself. If you see a CCIE role being advertised and you’re currently studying for the CCNA you should be honest with yourself and look for a more suitable role.
The I.T industry is constantly evolving and if you want to land your dream job you’ve got to evolve with it. Gone are the days where being an expert in one field and/or vendor’s products is enough to get you a high end role. The majority of employers are now looking for people who have knowledge and experience in multiple fields and/or vendor’s products.
Some may say that this is unfair - if they’re not going to give you the job how do they expect you to learn? The answer is virtualisation. These days there’s virtual options for almost all major vendors’ products. For example, GNS3 (IOS and ASA, as well as others), VIRL (IOS, IOS XE, IOS XR and NX-OS), Cisco Nexus 1000v, Olive (Juniper), several Riverbed products, F5 Virtual Lab Edition licence, Arista vEOS, Check Point Security Gateway Virtual Edition, NetApp’s ONTAP Simulator. The list goes on and on. Further to this, there are forums, online tutorials and guides, instructional videos from INE and CBT Nuggets. With all of these resources available there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to familiarise yourself with vendors and products which you have not worked with before.
The next problem people mention is time - “I have a busy life, how will I find the time to learn how to setup and use a virtual appliance?”. The answer is simple - Re-read the Passion section above. If this is your passion you should make time for study. It shouldn’t be squeezed into your busy schedule, nor should it be rushed. Dream jobs don’t just fall out of the sky, more often than not you’ll have to put in a large amount of time and effort before you’re able to find one.
It may sound like a lot of work for something that’s not guaranteed, but I can assure you that when you do land your dream job you’ll realise that it was definitely worth all of the time and effort you put into getting it.
If you weren’t doing it already, once you land your dream job make sure you give back to the community. The reason being that somewhere along the lines the community may have helped you get you to where you are. A good way of giving back is jumping on forums and assisting others who are hoping to get to where you are one day. Tell them about your journey and encourage them while they’re on theirs, assist them with their studies, etc. Your time will be invaluable to them and hopefully one day they’ll return to the forums and assist others so that the cycle can continue.
I wish you the best of luck. If there’s anything I can do to assist you, please feel free to drop me an e-mail.
As always, if you have any questions or have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop me a message on Reddit (OzNetNerd).
Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of my employer.