How to get a CIO job, ask for a pay raise, plus answers to other career questions

* IT recruiter answers readers' questions

Last week, Network World held its latest series of online chats with industry experts, this time with Matt Colarusso, a national IT recruiter with staffing company Sapphire. In just an hour, Colarusso answered a very broad range of questions from readers, ranging from tips to get a CIO position to how to get negotiate a pay raise. Here are some of the issues discussed:

Colarusso says certifications add spice to the resume but employers still want to see real-word experience. And the way to go about getting real-world experience is to network, network, network. "This means with everyone: neighbors, online user groups, friends, alumni. Get your foot in the door. You'll be surprised how many opportunities you will uncover that are not posted on a Web site anywhere," is Colarusso's advice.

As for which certifications to go for, Colarusso says foundation-level certs, such as Cisco Certified Network Associate are a good start and that higher-level certs, such as Cisco Certified Network Professional and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer "will always catch the eye of the person reviewing your resume." But colarusso emphasizes that the key is how the candidates relates their real-world experience to the job opening. Also, for management and business-oriented roles, such as project management, employers would likely, in addition, look for certifications tied to methodologies, such as ISACA's Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Six Sigma

Colarusso says he's seeing a greater need for people in areas where employers have to follow mandates, such as in the financial services and healthcare sectors. Even if you're just thinking about making a move into such roles, take a peek at the job ads you would likely to pursue for clues as to the methodologies the employers are looking for and consider training for those certifications.

There were also a few questions about c-level positions, indicating that our readers have their eyes set on higher things. The good news is that Colarusso believes more c-level positions are being created in IT, and some larger, global organizations and e-commerce companies hire multiple c-execs in positions including CIO, chief security officer and CTO. Colarusso says: "The best way to sell CIO skills is to show your accomplishments in getting multiple divisions to work together in harmony, after all the CIO is that mystical figure that helps every unit work together."

Readers also had some questions about compensation, including which skills and geographic regions offer the most pay. You can find regional information about salaries through Network World's 2007 Salary Survey. Also, check out our salary calculator for a more personal view of what you could be earning. Colarusso noted that he's still seeing high salaries in the software development area, specifically for developers with business acumen and who can comfortably communicate with people from the business and technology sides of the house.

If you're happy with your job role and your employer, but want a bigger paycheck, how do you negotiate for a raise? Colarusso says: "Start by making a list of all your accomplishments and I mean be specific (percentages, how many good hires have made, how many successful projects you've been on, how your work compares to people in an equal role). Then be careful on how you address it. Show that your main intent is that you want to be with your employer for the long haul, that you like the company and want to map out your immediate future with your financial goals. If you can prove it on paper, they will listen. Also get advice from others who are good at it!"

For the full transcript of the chat go here. Mark your calendar for Oct. 24, 2-3 p.m. ET, when the next online chat will be with Wendell Odom, trainer with Cisco training partner Skyline-ATS, author of multiple Cisco Press books and author of Cisco Subnet's Cisco Cert Zone blog. No registration is required. Just log in here at the advertised time.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.