Career Watch: Dealing with slackers at work

Interview with Ram Murthy, the director of application systems at the Peace Corps

Ram Murthy, the director of application systems at the Peace Corps, answers questions about education, certifications, leadership and dealing with slackers.

Would an A+ certification in networking, along with a master's degree, be useful in moving one's career along? And is an online master's degree worth much?

The IT field is continuously evolving to meet business needs. This implies that the IT knowledge worker must always be on top of technology and invest in continual learning.

Getting A+ certification in networking with a master's degree in a related IT field does somewhat help, but it must be backed up with professional on-the-job skills and experience. With respect to online master's degrees, one from an accredited university does carry weight. In fact, in this network-centric world, online and self-paced educational opportunities to help you balance your professional and personal activities are becoming more common.

Remember, though, that while certifications and education can help you get an entry-level job, you will need to support your credentials with work experience if you want to move up.

I'm a 12-year IT industry professional whose position was recently outsourced. I'm thinking about returning to school to obtain mobile application development training at a cost of about $6,000. Do you think it's worth the investment?

Yes. And if finding funds for the training is an issue, check out the self-paced and free classes and code camps that vendors like Microsoft and IBM offer.

With end users these days expecting to have information available anytime, anywhere and by any means, skills in mobile technology and mobile application development will be widely sought. I would also suggest that your resume should show support for your training and education with real-life app dev examples to get attention.

In 12 years in IT, I've always been frustrated by those colleagues who manage to do the least possible work. They're like Wally in the "Dilbert" comic strips, and management doesn't seem to catch on. I've never wanted to rat these people out, but as workloads increase because of smaller staffs, the frustration is mounting. (Why are the Wallys always the last to be laid off?) What would you advise?

The basic problem involves visibility and awareness. Your managers are completely blind on resource allocation and performance management. There should be better accountability. They need to institute weekly status reports and related communication tools on the work accomplished that will show who is responsible, accountable and producing the work.

As for you and the other non-Wallys, don't be modest about marketing yourself and your accomplishments. You might also need to employ creative communications to your customers and business units so the message circles back to your boss on who actually produces the work.

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