The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit

Product Description

Your complete guide to building your information technology career in any economy


The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit  features market-focused skills and proven methods you can use to jump-start and advance your career. While other books cover just the mechanics of preparing your résumé, writing a cover letter, and interviewing, this book provides all that plus additional insight from IT career development expert, Matt Moran, to help you plan and create a rewarding IT career over the long term.


The toolkit approach allows you to use this book to suit your unique needs:

  • Are you new to the IT field? Benefit by reading the book cover to cover.
  • Just need to fine-tune your IT career? Choose a topic and dive in.

Understand and prepare for the various and changing factors that affect your career in both positive and negative ways. Learn how to

  • Present the value of your technical skills in the job market
  • Position yourself as the primary commodity of your career
  • Remove the guesswork out of job searches
  • Highlight on-the-job skills and gain meaningful professional exposure 

The companion CD-ROM includes career management tools such as résumé and cover letter templates, forms to track important contacts, and self-assessment tools. Start or further your consulting career with sample proposals, opportunity tracking forms, and a time-tracking and billing database. Financial tools, including budget and cash-flow summary worksheets, help you gain financial well-being. Use the Value-Added Technologist presentation to gain a clear understanding of the career-building process and how to use the toolkit to build a dynamic career.


Most of all, have fun! Every year, people advance along the path to career stardom. Let Matt help you to be one of them through his career philosophy “Do not accept mediocrity as a career objective–demand more of yourself.”


“I want you to see the [toolkit] techniques as one more set of skills to adopt in your overall career development program. They are skills, just like your technical skills, that you will use daily during your career. Just as you adopt new technical skills, use the toolkit to define those soft skills that you must learn and put to use. The result will be a more well-rounded and complete professional skill-set.”

~ Matthew Moran, from the Introduction


Companion CD-ROM

The CD-ROM contains valuable tools, forms, spreadsheets, and documents that work with the Toolkit to help you master key areas of your career development.



The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit

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5 Responses to “The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit”

  1. A. Sardella says:

    The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit by Matthew Moran (Cisco Press, 2005) is actually a useful toolkit for building a career in many other fields as well. The author has taken the trouble to uncover a great many universal truths about the relationship between employee and employer, the bottom-line mentality of human resource management in business, and the effects of the current economy on new entrants to the job market. It was really unusual to see a business book that didn’t seem to just echo the platitudes of every other business book on the market, but which instead, by reflecting on the state of affairs in one particular vocation, and focusing on the specific problem of starting out as an entry level candidate, repeatedly illustrated techniques that people can apply in any stage of their career, and in may different professions.

    This is because so many of the players in everyone’s career are aptly introduced, with numerous tips on how to deal with the ones who may have forgotten to take their medication this morning, or who may have more of an influence on your future than you think. The numerous personas of interviewers, bosses, coworkers, and the people you are ultimately helping-your users-are drawn up so that you can recognize them when you see them, and handle a variety of situations as a professional. For instance, even if a scrap of criticism is too harsh, is there a grain of truth in it? And if you are concerned about a pending performance review or how your supervisor views your progress, you may want to assign a self-evaluation and report the results to your supervisor. The author gives a vivid account of how well that worked for him.

    But of course the focus is on helping the young entrant to the IT job market. To this end, he presents the concept of a toolkit, or a complete set of tips and tactics that can be applied at many different stages of a career: the point is to choose the right tool for the situation. The other analogy is that the book is for career building, not just putting together a succession of jobs. The would-be IT professional is encouraged to consider exactly what skills should be honed, what relationships should be developed, what approach should be taken to building a satisfying work life. It is very tempting to plow ahead and get the next hot certification, or to hop to the next job that pays a few bucks more or touches on the trendiest technology. It is useful to be reminded that-even in the post-bubble chill with salaries down from their happy heights and jobs for which you have to compete rather than step into-you can build a more satisfying career by deliberately designing and planning it instead of just adding jobs to the pile.

    Still, the author realizes that there are not a lot of choices at first, and so a lot of care is put into describing how to make the most of any job. It compares and contrasts a number of possible situations the new employee might wind up in-enterprise versus SMB, IT department versus a branch of the business-and describes how someone might make themselves invaluable in any of these environments. There is a pragmatic and reassuring sense that by building the foundation of your career, you can then construct the house you want to live in.

    There are many other basics covered in the areas of cover letters, resumes, networking, interviewing skills, searching for jobs, seeking promotions-the nuts and bolts of making your way into the market. And among the different options covered are the pursuits of salaried positions as opposed to consulting, and choosing the attributes for which job to take if you get multiple offers (it’s not always about the money). The section of negotiating skills, and defining what constitutes an effective negotiation, is an eye opener for anyone who doesn’t have those natural poker-playing skills.

    The CD has a lot career management tools such as resumes, self-assessment forms, contact tracking forms, and others. There are also sections on consulting tools and financial management tools. There were some broken links but I’m not sure if this had to do with my browser (I was using Mozilla). In any case, you can browse the contents under Windows explorer without needing to use the menus.

    For a very carefully written effort to help aspiring applications to the IT market, I’d give this one five stars.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Like a runner benefits from an hour in the weight room after 40 miles on the track, so the IT technician will do well to spend some time reading the IT Career Builder’s Toolkit by Matthew Moran. You do not have to be technical at all to read this book. It is full of good common sense advice from an information technology perspective. It is the first Cisco Press book that has caught the eye of my non-technical friends.

    Moran emphasizes the development of the soft skills that are so necessary to really succeed in any career. He explains that we must become agnostic about which technology or process we use and more cognizant of the big picture of how technology can accomplish business needs and profitability. Concerning this focus he asks the reader, “Are you a pure technologist or a systems analyst?”

    There are 3 helpful sections on the CD. Career Management Tools has examples such as resumes, cover letters, opportunity tracker, self assessment form, and status reports. Consulting Tools has tips on sales presentations, case studies, and solution selling. Financial Tools, includes budget and cash flow planning and sample spreadsheets.

    The book is divided into short easy to read chapters. I particularly enjoyed Moran’s writing style which consists of well organized paragraphs consisting of tight punchy sentences. The book is the result of the author’s years of experience of applying solutions for his employers and customers through managing his own and others IT skills. Before you read one more technical manual, I recommend you read the IT Career Builder’s Toolkit!

    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. Robnhood says:

    Today, I have finished The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit, and I an honestly say that I have added it to my recommended reading material. I feel it is a must read for those starting out in life, and to those who have found their lifelong career path. For those starting out, The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit serves as a manual for career building. Matt sets expectations for those new to the field, and he helps that on a path to success. For those who are in the field, Matt reminds the seasoned IT Pro to reflect were they current are in their profession, and he urges them to rise to the top of their field. Throughout the book, Matt provides tools, guidance, and experience that can be added to your own career toolkit. I could hear him asking me, “Are you planning on being an average professional?” The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit is a must read for anyone in the professional workplace.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. While the bookstores are filled with books about getting a job, I don’t remember reading a book before that looks squarely at how one should approach an IT career that also includes so many practical tools as this one does. Each chapter has questions and exercises and the enclosed CD has a number of tools, forms, spreadsheets and examples to help you apply the lessons of the book.

    The book starts with the perspective of the “bust” after the Internet “boom” of the late 1990s. IT jobs are harder to find, harder to keep and pay less. New graduates with certifications can no longer expect to launch into high-profile career jobs. In fact, the first job may be an apparent step backward. Mr. Moran argues that the new graduate should look upon such situations as an opportunity to learn . . . especially about the organization, rather than just about IT.

    That philosophy echoes throughout the book as he argues for IT professionals emphasizing their learning about how to make profits for the company by adding value . . . rather than just being technically up-to-date. The advice will seem counter-intuitive so some . . . know less about more . . . rather than more about less.

    I’m not an IT professional, but I often work with these talented people and I teach many IT professionals about business. From my perspective, the great value of the book is to round out the world view of an IT professional for the purpose of making the person more effective . . . rather than more efficient. Nice!

    At the same time, any book that aims to cover every subject from managing your attitude to networking with other professionals to telecommuting to negotiating a salary to mentoring others to managing your personal finances is bound to be many leagues wide and about an inch deep. As a result, many of the chapters will not be very useful except to those with no experience and no one to talk to. In the whole cover letter to on-the-job promotion section (chapters 9-16), I found myself wishing he had simply provided a list of great books on these subject and added one or two pages about what’s different for IT professionals.

    I liked chapters 5 (Self-Assessment), 6 (Attitude), 19 (The Move to Management), and 21 (Concept over Process) best. The rest didn’t seem to add much value compared to more focused books on those topics I have read. Of the four strong chapters, I found 21 a trifle confusing and weighed down with a bit too much jargon for my taste.

    Overall, I think this book will be of most benefit to soon-to-be-graduates and those who are stalled in their careers and aren’t quite sure what to do about overcoming the stalls.

    Good luck!
    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. This book would make a good addition to anyone looking to better their career knowledge and career. It starts off with the author talking about past experiences that helped shape the book. I think this information is decent to include so you have a better understanding of his skills. Next he defines the differences in a job and a career. It’s important to be on the same sheet of music. The next chapter starts to get into the IT field. A brief insight to the past, present and future history of IT is discussed. Matthew then starts to get your mindset into the real world of IT. My favorite section of this chapter is when he explains that you can’t expect certifications to be your “magic carpet” in IT. He then touches on the job market and talks a little on Outsourcing. I know people will learn tons about the dynamics of Outsourcing and who is really affected in these few short paragraphs.

    The 4th chapter is one of the best chapters in the book. I feel they should be mandatory reading for everyone entering this field. He makes you realize there is more to think about then how much money you are making. You are presented with other benefits a job has to offer besides just pay. I will admit that I have made the mistake of leaving a company and my only concern was about how much money I was making or not making. The major points that are pointed out in this chapter alone are well worth the price of the book and the time to read it.

    The next 3 chapters will help the user with self improvement. This is done with a few self assessment questions and a make a list at the end of a chapter. The next chapter deals with your attitude and how you act and interact with people. This is a vital section to anyone that works with others. “That would be ALL of us”. The last part is on communication skills.

    This is another reason to buy this book. Matthew teaches you what it takes to have good communication skills. One thing he points out is how many people treat email as a non important communication skill. We soon realize differently. The area of communication is they key to any successful career. Does the President of the United States write his own speeches? Ah no he doesn’t.

    The next couple of chapters of the book is what in my opinion makes the book worth while. The author talks about how important a cover letter, and resumes are. The resume chapter provides good ideas on what to add or what leave off your resume. The Interview chapter is very good. Here you are given ways to present yourself during the interview and the type of interviewer you are meeting with. I learned some really good tips in this chapter alone. Then you are helped with how to adequately perform a good job search. I think this will be a serious wake up call to many people that do the wrong type of job search. Matthew then devotes 2 chapters on working from home and consulting. In the consulting chapter there is some GOOD advice that I was glad I was reading. The rest of the book is also very good, I will let you buy the book and read the rest of this beneficial information.

    In conclusion anyone reading this book will find some very good information. The author provides years of professional experience and knowledge to help you better yourself and your career. He gives you enough information to make a game plan. In order to succeed at anything you need a plan. My only fault with the book is that more information would have been helpful, but that is a dilemma faced by many authors.

    Rating: 4 / 5