Chris Schafer

Learn from your peers: career advice from top professionals in the IT industry

We spoke to IT professionals across the industry, from IT directors to specialist recruitment consultants, about the advice they would give to individuals looking to enhance and further their IT career. Among other tips, they highlighted the importance of a good plan of action, always being adaptable, and a lot of soul searching.

In the fourth of our career advice series we met with Chris Schafer, Director at Mysoft, and listened to his thoughts on finding the right role, job switching, and setting up your own business.

After working at HP as part of his college work experience in 1982, Chris spent three years doing contract work before deciding that sales was the career path he wanted to follow. After working in a sales role for a software company - moving up to become Sales Director - he set up his own business in 2005. Today Mysoft is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Sage ERP X3.

Chris highlights the importance for IT professionals of thinking about and finding the right company, rather than the right role: “The IT industry is very competitive and applicants really need to think about the competitiveness of the market they are in. There is no shortage of jobs but you need to find the right organisation above finding the right job. Once you’re in the right organisation you can grow into the role.”

He highlights constant job switching as one of the biggest problems he sees with potential candidates applying for roles at Mysoft: “Many applicants haven’t stayed in any one role for very long. My view is that is you don’t work somewhere for at least a couple of years then you probably haven’t proven yourself. The IT industry is tough and you need to be prepared to get your head down and work. Don’t flit from one job to another.”

Chris gives his advice for anyone looking to set up their own business and warns that waiting for that flash of genius might be the very thing holding you back: “It isn’t about waking up one morning and having a eureka moment. It is about thinking about what you can do really well, probably based on your background, ensuring there is a market opportunity, and then creating a business around that. Think about what you’ve learnt in your previous roles and how you can do it better - use this to create a clear vision. You don’t necessarily have to be a great entrepreneur - it is about hard work and determination - know what you want to do and believe in it.”

Careful planning helps you to avoid ending up in a job that doesn’t suit you. You can plan your career and find out more about the subjects you’re really interested using the BCS Personal Development Plan: a free tool for savvy IT professionals.