IT Industry: Your IT Professionals Want THIS From Their Careers

IT Professionals Want THIS From Their CareersEarlier this year, we launched a survey asking IT professionals—including CIO Insight’s readers—one simple question:

“What do you most want from your career?”

We received hundreds of responses from IT professionals at every level of their careers.

What We Learned About IT Professionals

We asked each respondent, “What do you most want from your career?” and provided 16 potential answers to choose from. To make their answers as meaningful as possible, respondents had to choose a first, second, and third choice.

Why so many potential answers? We wanted to force IT pros to think hard and get specific about what they really wanted most from their careers, instead of hiding behind broad statements like, “I want greater career advancement.”

The top three survey choices from all IT respondents were:

  1. I want to make more money (47.7%)
  2. I want to work on interesting technology projects (35.1%)
  3. I want less stress in my work life (25.7%)

Considering our respondent profile, these answers make sense. They reflect the specific desires of the junior IT professionals—Individual Contributors and Project Managers—who made up over 70% of our respondents.

However, comparing our respondents’ choices as they advanced in their career, a few interesting points of comparison between junior and senior IT professionals came to light:

  • “I want to make more money” was overall the most selected choice for all IT professionals at every level in their career. But as our respondents progressed in their careers, they selected this choice less frequently.
  • CIOs selected, “I want less stress” and, “I want to work on interesting technology projects” significantly less frequently than those in any other role did.
  • As respondents advanced in their careers, they moved away from wanting greater professional development and quality of life and towards wanting greater recognition and influence.

Reviewing these points, one insight appeared. As IT professionals advance in their careers, their professional desires become less about themselves and what they want—more money, less stress, cool tech projects—and more about working with others, getting a seat at the table, and gaining the appreciation of their peers.

There are two ways to interpret this

  1. As IT professionals advance in their careers, they get more of their individual professional needs met. Their salaries increase, they gain greater control over their day-to-day work, and they find the right work/life balance. As these needs get met, they free up the capacity to focus less on their own needs and more on the needs of others.
  2. The IT professionals who focus more on the needs of others are the IT professionals who advance in their careers. IT professionals advance when they focus on the technology needs of the business over their own desire to work on cool tech, on getting the job done even if it’s personally stressful, and on working influentially with their peers. And the more they focus on the needs of others, the higher they climb up the ladder.

These two interpretations are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, they likely reinforce each other. As an individual gets their own needs met and begins to focus on the needs of others, they are rewarded with advancement in their career. And as they are professionally rewarded for focusing on the needs of others, they are more likely to focus on those external needs. This is what economists call a “virtuous cycle,” and it’s heartening to see that it may be one factor driving IT professionals forward in their careers.

I’ll have more to say on this subject of how to focus on the needs of others in future articles. But for now, if you’re interested in reviewing the full results of our survey results—along with expanded analysis of the data—click here and we’ll happily send you a free copy.

Click here for your free “What IT Pros Most Want” report.


What IT Pros WantIf you want to jump-start your engagement efforts, grab our new report “What IT Pros Most Want”. It goes deep into this question of what your people really want from their careers. Give them that, and they’ll never leave.

Click here for your free copy of “What IT Pros Most Want”


IT Industry, take note: you IT professionals told us, in a recent survey, "THIS is what we want from our careers".

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