Research suggested that about 100 000 new IT jobs would be created by 2013, but training institutions are currently producing only a fraction of this number of graduates. The skills shortage within the IT sector is a major concern and it remains the most important constraint on business growth within the field.

This is according to Compuways CEO Arnold Graff, who comments: “The IT sector only contributes about 5% of the country’s GDP, it’s earmarked as one of the largest growth areas for job creation and economic expansion. But, what makes an IT professional stand out above his peers?”

After interviewing thousands of IT professionals over the past 20 years, Compuways has designed a success guideline for an IT professional career.

Compuways has re-engineered its processes to incorporate Internet and automation technology in the changing roles of the recruiter, employer and job seeker in the recruitment process. Its success is attributed to nurturing loyal clients and candidates, using the Internet to complement the recruitment process. It is able to asses and supply the right level of skill at the right time.

Graaff says candidates must be more solution oriented. “Look at every task as a product or service and realise that every product has a customer that needs to use it and benefit from it. Rather than looking at a job as merely a means to an end and being there in working hours. This might require of you to work longer hours than usual at times.

“Linked to this, every product or service has to be delivered in a reasonable time frame. This definitely also does not mean you have to be a workaholic to be successful, one should live a balanced life so I suggest you should always ensure that you also have enough rest, even if it is between projects delivered.”

He stresses that IT professionals need to keep their skills updated. “School is never out for the true professional. This is especially applicable for IT as there are continuously evolving technologies in this industry, it is so easy to fall behind. This is also one of the main reasons why we have such a skills shortage in our industry.

“Rack up those certifications, employers certainly take IT certifications seriously and certified candidates earn higher salaries and are preferred in job interviews. More importantly, keep the certifications relevant to your job,” he explains.

He points to relationship building as a key to success. “People are more important than technology, so do not neglect building friendships along the way in your IT career. It is not always what you know, rather who you know. Make sure that while you are delivering the best solutions possible, you are also building strong relationships.”

Graaff compares specialisation to generalisation. “Your goal should be to be a specialist in your field, but you should not neglect the basics of a generalist. While being the top guru in your field, do not rely on other people to clean up the basics. For example, while being a top software developer, it can be extremely beneficial to know how to fix your PC. Employers regard an IT professional as someone who knows everything.

In conclusion, Graaff says candidates must take responsibility. “When choosing tasks on a new project, look at the core skills that will make the project successful. This is not always being a project leader, often a key member in a team, plays a critical role when it comes to keeping the customer happy. Keep adding happy customers to your list and CV, it will add to you your success.”