It's January it’s cold wet and windy so lets lift the mood and discuss happiness as this is a peak season for suicide and depression in the UK. My definition of happiness is taken from Robert Heinlein (the guy who wrote Starship Troopers) “Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing”.  However this is a bit altruistic, many of you desire to live comfortably and therefore we need to be re numerated  for our work.  So if your idea of happiness is to spend hours improving your gamer score then the problem is that there are few opportunities to get paid for this! If we define stress as two different forces acting on as body (in this case you) then on the one hand you want to have fun, but you also have this occupation, work, that gets in the way and also in today’s society identifies your pace in it as I am a <insert your job here>.  I am guessing you enjoy IT to some extent or you wouldn't be reading this so how can you be happier at work?

First we need to establish success criteria – what does your dream role look like?  I meet all sorts of IT Professionals and there’s no doubt many of them have great jobs, be that at cool organisation like Lotus F1, the more “obscure” branches of government service, or those like my friend Richard Otter who are doing great work in the charities sector (he’s in charge of the IT at the Woodland Trust).  I also have great  respect for those trying to to teach IT or providing IT support in health and education, but you will have your own ideas.

The next step on the road to success is to work out how to get there.  I didn't plan the first part of my life properly at all , so I am not good at this, but about ten years ago I decided I wanted to join Microsoft having just been on a course with a few of their/our technical guys.  I had previously assumed I wouldn't be good enough, and these guys quite rightly said 'you won’t know until you try'.  However it took me three more years to spot the right role and be in a position to apply.  The preparation was mostly about understanding what an organisation like Microsoft were looking for and and what sort of role I wanted to do.  However I did bag a few certifications on the way (the MCDBA as was) .  I also watched their job boards like a hawk as all roles are advertised externally, as there are no jobs for the boys/girls here! I then actually applied.  The prep I did was to read what I had been sent , thoroughly research the role, the wider company and try and find out as much about the interview panel as I could on social media.

Perhaps the most important step is that having landed the job was that I was and am very happy.  I do appreciate those that want to go onward and upwards but I am privileged to work in a great team, in a great company doing something that I enjoy, I am pretty good at and that pays fairly well.  So I know what success looks like to me and i have found it.

As a conclusion, The UK economy is gradually turning around and the IT job market is already pretty healthy so if the culture or role you have right now is born out of necessity then now is the time to think about what you could be doing, rather than being stuck in a role you don’t enjoy.  You should be skilling up on the technical front with quality time on MVA in preparation for getting certified and just as importantly on the much harder marketing skills.  Marketing is hard and I believe too important to be left to the marketing department which is a post for another day, however you do need to market yourself online (Linked in Twitter possibly Facebook etc.) and in person with a well written CV and thoughtful presentations (possibly without using PowerPoint).

Did you like this article? If so, check out Andrew’s ‘Careers Advice for the IT Professional’ article.