5 Tips to Build Your Career Around Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise collaboration tool that more organizations are turning to in order to empower their teams with greater efficiency and effectiveness. As more businesses are using SharePoint, there's an increasing need for IT pros who can effectively administer it. We explore five tips to help you build your career around this incredible tool.
SharePoint is a Big World
Saying that you want a career in SharePoint is a little like saying that you want a career in healthcare. In healthcare, you could be a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, EMT, or a doctor's receptionist — each position is a valid career choice and requiring specific aptitudes, skills, and training. Similarly, there are a wide variety of jobs available if you're looking to work with SharePoint.
You could be a SharePoint administrator, developer, or architect, working on technical aspects of the technology. You could be a business analyst designing SharePoint solutions that meet specific business needs, or a project manager managing the rollout of those solutions to users. Alternatively, you could be in a support role, working on a SharePoint helpdesk, or in an end-user training role.
Just as with our healthcare example, each job demands specific aptitudes, training, and expertise so there won't be a specific prescription for getting a SharePoint job. Instead, we lay out five general steps to guide your journey, whatever path you choose. Here goes!
Tips to Build Your Career
We mentioned aptitude a couple of times, so let's begin there.
1. Know Who You Are and What You Know There's probably little point in wanting to become a surgeon if you are all "fingers and thumbs," so when setting out on your SharePoint path, take stock of your skills, knowledge, abilities, and aspirations. Here are some questions to consider: – What experience do you have? – What do you like doing? – What are you good at doing? – Do you enjoy working directly with people, or do you prefer working with technology? – Are you good at organizing things? – Are you currently a programmer or systems administrator? – Do you have business experience or skills?
2. Map Your Desired Direction Based on the first step, you can begin to plan the steps you need to take. You may have decided to follow a technical path — toward SharePoint administration, developing SharePoint apps, or even becoming a SharePoint architect. These jobs are probably good targets if you have experience with technologies such as Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server, or Microsoft networking services. These are some of the core technologies that are required to run SharePoint.
If you're more people-oriented, you might want to consider user support, user training, or even a business analyst role.
3. Acquire Basic and Complementary Skills
Whatever your target, the minimum requirement is that you know how to use SharePoint. Get some training on the fundamentals of SharePoint. SharePoint 2016 is the current version of SharePoint, but until more customers start to upgrade, you're mostly going to see the 2013 edition.
You can find a number of free introductory courses on YouTube, but we humbly suggest that you check out our Microsoft SharePoint 2013 End-user video training course. This covers the skills an end user needs to work with Microsoft SharePoint 2013. It's also good prep for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification exam. If you're lucky enough to have access to the current edition, then take a look at the Microsoft SharePoint 2016 Fundamentals course, which covers end-user and basic administration skills that will be relevant to all SharePoint roles.
If you're targeting a user support or training role, but don't have a lot of background in technology, then consider our CompTIA desktop support courses, CompTIA A+ 220-901 and CompTIA A+ 220-902. These courses provide you with valuable technical, troubleshooting, and user support skills.
Given that SharePoint is primarily a collaboration platform, many SharePoint professionals will be involved in managing or implementing significant projects. You may want to consider project management training. To start, you could get up to speed with Microsoft Project, one of the most popular tools for that discipline, or learn some basic skills for project management, by taking the CompTIA Project+ course. If you expect to be doing serious project management, you should look at Project Management for the Real World for exposure to some real world project management techniques and Project Management Professional (PMP)® 2016, which prepares you to become a PMI® Project Management Professional.
4. Get Experience
While you're acquiring SharePoint know-how and other skills, look for experiences that will complement your training. If your organization uses SharePoint, that's great! Share your career goals with your supervisor. Contact people on the SharePoint team and ask them about available opportunities to work with them to start building out your SharePoint experience.
If your organization does not use SharePoint (yet), remember that SharePoint runs on an underlying IT infrastructure — it can even run in the cloud — so build your credentials around the administration, support, or design of that infrastructure! Coupled with your own SharePoint initiatives, that expertise can help position you to transition to a SharePoint role.
5. Pursue Formal Certifications
Once you're in a good career situation, you'll probably be able to commit to a formal certification path. Microsoft retired SharePoint-specific certifications in favor of ones that cover broader functional areas. So, for example, the former Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE): SharePoint has been superseded by the MCSE: Productivity certification.
If you're set on the administration/management/architecture track, then MCSE: Productivity certification is your pathway. A prerequisite for this certification is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) — either in Office 365 or in Windows Server 2012. Realistically, Windows Server is the better option. Check out our Microsoft training courses that can help you prepare for MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification.
If you choose the user support/training path, then the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification is a good starting point. It's focused on the Microsoft office productivity suite that now includes SharePoint. You also keep your career path options open, because MOS certification is viewed as a great entry point leading to MTA and MCSA certifications, and eventually to the MCSE: Productivity.
So, there are our five tips for building your SharePoint career! Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets to building an IT career. And there's always an element of fortune in getting or changing jobs. But remember that hiring managers place a premium on candidates who demonstrate energy, motivation, and dedication. Show that you're following a self-directed SharePoint skills development plan. Couple that with demonstrated excellence in your current position and you will stand out as a "can do" candidate!
Best of luck in your SharePoint journey! Remember to check back frequently with CBT Nuggets for courses to help you get up-to-speed quickly on new SharePoint "bells and whistles."
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