What IT Professionals Really Want: It's All About the Money

By Marc J. Schiller  |  Posted 02-29-2012

What IT Professionals Really Want: It's All About the Money

Two weeks ago I put forth the position that the reason IT leaders don't get what they want from their careers is because they don't really know what they want. (Read about it here.)

To help prove or disprove my position, I reached out to CIO Insight readers and members of my personal mailing lists and asked them to participate in a survey with one simple question: What do you most want from your professional career? We received 160 responses across a range of IT and business positions.

Respondent Profile



Senior IT Managers


IT Managers


Project Managers


Non-managerial IT professionals 


 Note: total 160 respondents

IT Pros: What We Learned

To make the answers as meaningful as possible, participants were required to choose a first, second and third response from more than 16 choices. (Respondents also had to option to write in a choice of their own-although fewer than two percent chose to do so.)

The goal in providing so many choices with only slight variations between them was to "force" IT pros to reveal the exact nature of what they want most from their careers. No hiding behind broad statements like "career advancement" or "challenging work environment."

The top three survey choices for all IT respondents, from non-managerial IT pros to CIOs, were:

  1. I want to make more money

  2. I want to be more influential

  3. I want a seat at the table

In absolute terms, 129 of the 160 IT pros who participated in this survey  (over 80 percent) chose one of the above items as either their first, second or third choice.

More significantly, 45 percent of respondents chose "I want to make more money" as their first, second or third choice.

IT Pros Want to Earn More Money

News flash: IT leaders want to make more money and have greater influence and presence in the executive suite. Really? Is that really such a big deal? Is that even news?

Yes, it is. It's a HUGE deal and it's big news. Because it's the first time I have ever seen IT leaders and professionals actually come out and say their number one priority is that they want to make more money.

I often hear about the desire for greater influence and a seat at the table. That's become a very important professional goal for many IT folks. (Heck, it's the main focus of my own work.) But a hard-core, no-holds-barred focus on money? That's atypical for the IT community.

For a variety of reasons, most IT professionals and leaders have difficulty saying that they want to make more money until they are pushed to admit it. Like it's some sort of bad thing to be financially motivated when you work in the world of business. Hello?

Well, according to this data, it seems this trend has made a sharp turnaround. And I for one couldn't be more delighted to see it.

Now that it's out in the open, you can get to work in earnest on making it happen. Along with it, you can add in the other two goals of greater influence and a seat at the table. These three actually go hand-in-hand.

All too often, IT professionals and leaders are afraid to admit they want to make more money. But until you do, it's going to be near impossible to build a meaningful plan to get yourself there.

Actively pursuing greater financial reward is part and parcel of the business world. And it's something every IT professional needs to learn how to do. The first step to making more money (or realizing any goal for that matter) is fully recognizing it and embracing it. And so I say: well done.

Of course, wanting to make more money or attain a seat at the table doesn't just happen on its own. It requires a very deliberate set of actions.

I'll have more to say on this subject in future columns. In the meantime, if you would like a full copy of the survey results (so you can see into the variations of what IT professionals want most and how they differ by role) email me. I'll be happy to send them along to you.

About the Author

Marc J. Schiller, author of "The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders," is a speaker, strategic facilitator, and an advisor on the implementation of influential analytics. He splits his time between the front lines of client work and evangelizing to IT leaders and professionals about what it takes to achieve influence, respect and career success. Download a free excerpt of his book at http://11secretsforitleaders.com