Five Ways to Avoid a Tech Career Crisis
Allan Hoffman, Monster Tech Jobs Expert
If you are taking a break from actively managing your IT career, just remember one word: Cobol.
While this ’50s-era programming language is still used today, it symbolizes the way a seemingly omnipresent technology can be in demand one moment and out of fashion the next.
Technology professionals understand that they work in an industry characterized by rapid-fire change, but techies sometimes fail to manage their careers appropriately. Too often, network administrators, programmers and others find themselves in a most uncomfortable position — laid off from a once-secure job with skills that are no longer as attractive to employers as they once were.
What’s the solution? Part of the challenge is learning to assess the risks inherent in any career. Staying with what you know may seem like the safe thing to do, but not when it comes to technology. Career-development inertia is risky, especially if what you know is a technology that’s on its way out.
Actively managing your career can help you avoid a crisis involving your technical expertise. Remember, this isn’t simply about learning the latest technology. Rather, it is a matter of protecting yourself from the vagaries of shifting technology by gaining industry-specific knowledge, maintaining a network of contacts and seeking out management experience.
The goal is to avoid reaching the point where you don’t have anything to offer an employer other than technical skills. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Careers are apt to take on a life of their own, especially when a technical specialty can earn a top-notch salary. Why learn something new when you’re earning good money right now? But when your specialty loses its luster, you may find your $75-an-hour skill garnering a fraction of that — if you’re able to find work at all.
What steps should you take when your area of technological expertise is losing ground? Here are five tips for technology transitions:
Think Macro, Not Micro
Too many techies don’t look outside their own turf, no matter how narrow it is. If you want to avoid being overrun by shifting technologies, you need to keep up with developments in the broader technology world. News sources abound, from eWeek to the Wall Street Journal. Keeping in touch with technology trends shaping the business community will help you better assess the danger signs, if any, pertaining to your own area of expertise.