SharePoint job descriptions: Which role is right for you?
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SharePoint is a massive system with a large amount of moving pieces. More pieces to the SharePoint puzzle mean more job roles, and that gives you the chance to specialize in an area. That's the simple secret to making you stand out to prospective employers: specialization. Let's look at some of the specialization areas, so you can land the job best suited for you.
Most-common SharePoint job roles
Site Collection administrator
You do not need to know everything about how SharePoint works to be able to do this role, but you do need to know how Site, Lists and Libraries work and be able to manage the content for your users. This role is becoming more predominant as the Federated Support Model is being implemented into larger companies.
In short, the Federated Support Model means that each Site collection is supported by a Site Collection Administrator and that any issue first goes through them. They are the first line of support, user education and administration. In this role, you hold the unique advantage of understanding what the site is used for and where to grow it.
This is the most common SharePoint role. Unfortunately, there is also a misplaced idea that SharePoint jobs are all engineers. Engineers take on the role of configuring and administering the farm to ensure day-to-day running. They take care of patching, ensuring uptime, server maintenance and everything in between.
SharePoint engineers are often the last line of support when things go wrong. With them being farm admins and server admins, it gives them the permissions to make any change in the environment which may be needed to fix certain issues. In this role, you will be taking care of a SharePoint environment on the server side.
I previously said you do not need to know everything about SharePoint to be a Site Collection Administrator, but in this role you will. An architect specifically designs the environment for optimal use. The majority of the times a SharePoint architect does not actually install or configure, rather they plan out all the details.
Architects plan out the entire environment from server and network layout to how services are going to be load balanced, and they even work to flush out a proper governance plan. In this role, you will plan out the architecture of everything and ensure optimal performance based on needs.
Now this is an interesting one. While a lot has changed for every job role with SharePoint 2013, none has changed as much as the developer Role. SharePoint 2013 moved away from Solutions that run inside of SharePoint to using Apps, which run in the client. Since Solutions are now deprecated, they will need to be redesigned to run in the client instead of the server. This changes how we program for SharePoint.
SharePoint developers now have to think completely opposite about how they design programs for SharePoint. At the same time, we now have the SharePoint Store, which allows you to publish your program and have it purchased inside of a company's environment. So, while it may be different to program for SharePoint, at the same time you can now create your own job by programming and publishing to the store for both on-premise environments and Office 365.
There are a lot of opportunities in this job role going forward with redesign work, self-publishing and the regular developing. With all the changes, it also allows new developers to come in on a more level playing field, as everyone is relearning the development process. In this role, you will be creating custom code for anything and everything that is needed. Imagination is really the limit when you are creating.
Project manager jobs are available in most technologies, but with SharePoint having so many ongoing projects every day, there's a major need for this role. From development of new Apps, new SharePoint Sites, new environments, processes and guidelines, every day something is changing inside the SharePoint Farm. A Project Manager helps to assist the growth of SharePoint, and without one SharePoint just grows organically into a tangled mess.
The project managers job is to get in there and see the big picture. They need to see how what one group is doing will affect another group and what resources are needed, all the while trying to ensure projects are completed on time and users get what they need. It can be a difficult job but one that is extremely important.
One thing many of us have encountered is that multiple groups purchase tools for SharePoint that have the same function but come from different companies. A project manager really helps bring down the cost of SharePoint while increasing its return on investment.
Is that all the roles?
No, but these are the most prominent ones. If I put down every SharePoint role out there, this would be a novel. We have roles for workflows, Excel creation, user education, support, PowerPivot site designs, graphic design, marketing and so on. Truthfully, there are as many job roles as there are needs. I want to take a moment to talk about an interesting one I ran into that may shed light on what I mean.
There was a client who needed to have something specific done. I went to gather the requirements and see what we could do to help. I met up with the company bookkeeper who was looking at moving away from paper and going digital inside of SharePoint. She walked me through how they keep all the paperwork and the specific coding they mapped to each form, and I was impressed with how complicated it seemed yet it worked so simply when they used it.
In this scenario, I am a supposed SharePoint expert who's completely out of my realm because I have no idea how bookkeeping works. Yes, we could get this process into SharePoint, but I needed to figure out how this bookkeeping system worked first, which is easier said than done. The company, understanding this, brought in a SharePoint record management expert. I honestly had no idea this job role even existed. She bridged the gap between bookkeeping and digital record keeping with ease, and then rode off into the sunset.
With SharePoint being so large, and users' needs being so varied, I really do mean it when I say that job roles are as diverse as the product itself. Choosing the area you want to work in, then specializing it likes the record management expert had done, increases your chances for landing that perfect job.
Editor's note: Check out Part 2 in the “Landing a SharePoint job” series, which will discuss perfecting your resume and interview skills, and part 3 on SharePoint consulting.
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