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Ten sure-fire ways to derail your career in IT

Want some lessons on how to ruin a perfectly good career in IT? Here's one expert's guide to alienating co-workers and ticking off your boss.

Kevin Beaver
Kevin Beaver

Everyone has advice to give on how to get ahead in an IT career. There's an endless supply of suggestions about how to deal with your workplace peers and IT team managers.

But let's change things up a bit. How about some advice on how you can really screw up a promising career? Let's face it, some IT pros just don't want the burden of taking responsibility for their own destiny.

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Here are ten things you can do right now, today, to alienate yourself from your co-workers and also show your boss some reasons to get rid of you altogether. We have all made some of these mistakes at some point in our careers (self included):

  1. Participate in IT-related gossip and political spats by spreading rumors and stretching the truth. There's no need to wow anyone with credibility and trust working in IT.
  2. Accept zero responsibility for security and compliance inside the firewall. Access controls, system hardening and network monitoring are way overrated.
  3. Serve as the lawmaker, the judge and the jury by monitoring employee Internet usage. People need to be controlled and their actions need to be displayed when they step out of line.
  4. Tell your users that they have to back up their own computers, install their own patches and keep their antivirus software up to date. They are their computers after all.
  5. Proudly tell others why your certifications make you a bona fide IT expert. As with the Ph.D., J.D., M.D., and CPA, as soon as others see those letters they immediately know the person is at the top of his or her game.
  6. Don't set job and career goals for yourself. It's much easier to achieve the goals of someone else in IT or another business unit. After all, you're just there to get a paycheck.
  7. Go to business meetings and talk about bits and bytes – encryption this and SQL query that. When no one can understand where you're coming from, no one will ever truly know what you do.
  8. Don't network with important people inside your organization and by all means don't bother attending any after-hours IT events that may cut into your personal time. What benefit is there in going out to meet other people anyway?
  9. Ignore opportunities to streamline IT processes and make technology work more efficiently to support the business. They're too much of a threat to your job security.
  10. Talk down to people when they come to you with computer problems (à la Nick Burns on Saturday Night Live). There's no need to earn the respect of lowly network users.

All in all, you want to portray the image that your business couldn't survive without you and you're not open to hearing other people's opinions. What you know is priceless and what you say is just the way things have to be.

Now you know what to do to disassociate yourself from your colleagues. By taking these ten items seriously and acting on them with conviction, in no time your job will be in jeopardy and your career in IT will be on the line. It doesn't get any better than that.

Kevin Beaver, is an information security consultant, keynote speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments. Kevin has authored/co-authored seven books on information security, including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley). He's also the creator of the Security on Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at

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A good witty article. Most of points apply to any career. One is missed: stop learning.