Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Daniel Wakeman.
The CIO of Educational Testing Service answers questions about keeping up to date, lobbying for a salary increase, and more.
What is the single best way to keep up with changes in our industry?
D.W.: By being involved. Participation in standards bodies, governance groups and IT networking groups and/or developing solutions are excellent ways for CIOs to stay in touch. Get an iPad or an Android device, and be involved in social media of all types. Set up news feeds from thought leaders such as Computerworld and others. Another option I have used is study tours, where we visit leading technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Cisco.
Several years ago, my company hired me at a salary that’s lower than the average for similar jobs in this area. At the time, the economy was starting to sink, and I knew I was lucky to be getting a job anywhere, so I don’t blame my employer — I just couldn’t say no at the time. I really enjoy working for my company, but I see other IT jobs opening up in the area with the same hours and benefits but better pay. I don’t want to leave my company, but money talks. If it were just a few thousand dollars, I wouldn’t even think about it, because I pretty much enjoy everything else about my job. But the difference is about $12,000. I know I can’t just go and ask for a bump like that, because my company has caps on raises. I’m torn on how to even bring up the subject with my boss without sounding greedy or unappreciative. I know my company respects and appreciates what I do, and I don’t want to flag myself as “that guy who wants more money.” Any suggestions would be very helpful.
D.W.: In situations like this, it’s best to seek a market adjustment rather than a raise. Nearly all companies have a process for adjusting pay based on the market, so find out who in your company manages this process. If you and others leave for similar positions at nearby companies, your employer will soon realize that it isn’t offering competitive salaries. Help the company recognize that it could be facing a challenge. Be honest, and express your desire to stay. If no market adjustments are forthcoming, you unfortunately may have to leave. Be sure you’re ready to follow through on that so you don’t lose credibility.
If you were asked today to cut 20 per cent of your staff, what IT skills or qualities would you most want to retain?
D.W.: Architecture (both technical and application), security, business analysis, business relations, senior development, and key database administration expertise.
I worked in tech support at a newspaper for eight years until I was laid off in a mass downsizing last April. I feel I should get out of the newspaper business, but I have a ton of know-how in things like Web publishing and desktop publishing. Any ideas on leveraging this knowledge in another vertical?
D.W.: Online content is growing rapidly, and much of it is in need of a professional touch. Many businesses now realize that social media is here to stay and that it’s having a significant influence on sales and on the public’s perception of companies. Your background is relevant here, and it might be just what many savvy companies are looking for. Start your own blog and show what you can do. Be involved as an expert in this area. Get noticed.
Robert Half International has picked the 11 most promising jobs for 2011. The positions that made the staffing firm’s list have seen increases in starting salaries and enjoy increased demand among employers. Of those 11, these six are IT-related:
[No. 1] Senior business systems analysts. These professionals are expected to see the largest increase in starting salaries. Average base compensation is projected to rise five per cent to the range of US$66,500 to US$85,500.
[No. 4] ERP technical developers. A projected uptick of 5.2 per cent should bring salaries for these jobs to between US$79,250 and US$109,500 this year. As Robert Half notes, “Since no two companies are alike, developers are in steady demand to customize software according to specific organizational needs.”
[No. 5] Business intelligence analysts. With a likely increase of five per cent, starting salaries should hit US$82,500 to IS$116,250.
[No. 6] Data modelers. Base pay for these professionals should reach US$80,750 to US$111,250, up 4.5 per cent year over year.
[No. 7] Mobile applications designers/developers. Starting salaries of US$73,250 to $102,500 are expected.
[No. 8] User experience designers. These professionals should see their compensation increase 7.8 per cent to a range of US$67,500 to US$98,000.