Monday, September 7, 2009

Achieving a six-figure income in IT

Instead of looking at what the majority of people of doing, we need to turn our attention to what the top 5 percent of income earners are income in IT? Or, an industry filled with outsourcing and off-shoring, maybe the better question is how do you keep you six-figure income? In either case , I want to share with you the secret formula for accelerating your career progression and guaranteeing you employment opportunities for the remainder of you working life.

However, first, let me as you another question: What does you “learning plan” look like? As long as you are not saying “learning plan, what learning plan?” you’re on the right track. For those of you who have a learning plan, you are most likely investing you time in understanding the latest technical language or platform and working toward one of a number of certifications.

It’s what the majority of professionals do. But what’s missing?
Let’s take a look at some numbers. According to the 2007 Dice Salary Survey, an average IT professional with three to five years experience is earning US $58,037. With six to ten years experience they are earning US $73,449. Now this is great money compared to the national average, but still a far cry from six figures-even with more than 15 years experience, the average of US$93,107 hasn’t hit the mark.
The truth is the majority of people don’t have a learning plan or, if they do have one, they are only focused on gaining technical skills. And , as we see the majority of IT people are making below six figures. Is there a correlation? I’ll let you draw you own conclusions.
So, instead of looking at what the majority of people are doing, we need to turn our attention to what the five percent of top income earners are doing- and doing differently.
I’ve spent my entire career studying this very topic. What follows is not just a theory. I’ve personally used what I’m about to share with you to triple my income in under five short years. I continue to use this formula to this day to my career and business.

The Leaders Formula

So what are the top five percent income earners doing differently that the average? In a word, leadership. I’m not talking about leadership in general. That’s too vague and hardly useful. I’m also not about leading teams, although that’s a part of it. What I’m referring to is personal leadership or, more specifically taking control of your life and taking your career-including teams, peers and bosses- in the direction that you wish to go.
Let’s take a closer look at three specific aspects of leadership that make up that I call Leader Formula. When used in combination they multiply effectiveness exponentially: visibility, likeability and credibility. Let’s explore each in more depth.


Visibility is simply about being seen. It’s about getting out from behind your computer and talking to people. It’s about building an effective network- of people not computers –that extends beyond your peers and your boss.
It’s about connecting with people within your industry, across companies, across departments, in the user community, recruiters, your boss’s boss, your boss’s peers, your peers themselves and your team.
Just imagine if you had stayed connected with everyone in your graduating class in university. How powerful would you network be?
I know the idea of networking can be a challenge for some IT professionals, since we are sometimes lableled introverts- you know who you are. Let me tell you, I’m an introvert and I do it regardless, since I know it makes a huge difference in my earning potential.
Networking is a skill that can be learned and mastered. The only way that you get over the awkwardness is to just do it and keep doing it.
Go out and begin to network. Get to know the people in you department, company and industry. Participate in user groups, or start on. Attend a trade shows and career fairs. Reach out and begin to build a quality network.


Likeability is about quality communications. It’s about building rapport with those key individuals within your network. It’s about helping other people achieve there goals. It’s about being known as a positive person. What if you were well liked by a number of hiring executives in different companies? Would that increase your earning potential?
IT Professionals tend to be very good at performing actions that are required to achieve a desired result. What we need to work on is becoming more aware of the impact of those actions. I’m sure you can all think of someone that you know who is technically brilliant, but every time they open their mouth they offend someone.

The two parts of likeability that I want you to work on are influence and enrollment. Learn how you can continue to achieve results and have a positive impact. Perhaps you need to develop listening skills or must maybe lighten up a bit. I find it useful to hold on to a “state of curiosity” whenever I’m connecting with someone. Your goal is to influence people in a positive way and enroll them in your cause.


Finally we have credibility, which is about trust and integrity. It’s about being known as a the person who can get the job done. It’s about making and delivering promises. It’s about holding yourself and others to a higher standard. Have you added anything cool to your resume in the six months?
IT Professionals tend to be very good at credibility. We’re delivering on our promises. What we are not so good at is estimating the amount of time required to complete a task because we tendency to get stuck in our ways and not take risks, which we can lead to uneventful and boring careers.

To help achieve credibility I want you to begin to add something cool to your resume at least every six months. How can you turn your current project into something wow? Is there a headache your boss has tat you can take of his or her hands? What would happen if you were able to solve a problem for your boss? Is that a raise in your future?


If you’ve ever been passed over for an opportunity it was because you were missing some aspect of the Leaders Formula. Did they know you wanted the job (visibility)? Were you liked by all the parties involved ( likeability)? Did you have a past track record of success ( credibility)? You can’t just focus on one or two of them. You must work on all three.
The Leaders Formula is so much more that it seems. It represent everything from the core of your personal reputation all the way to the outer edges as your personal brand. To earn a six-figure income you need to work on your visibility, likeability and credibility. So get out there and start networking, make a positive impact and deliver beyond peopl’s expectations.

Above article appeared The 2008 Guide to Best Places to Work in IT

Ron Vereggen is a career and leadership coach specializing in transforming IT professionals into leaders, which in turn directly increase the success rate of IT initiatives with the respective organizations with which he works. Visit to download a free ebook to help you take your career to the next level.

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