As the end of the year approaches and we hopefully receive some much needed breathing space, it’s natural to reflect on one’s career and whether it’s time for a change.
This is really an individual question that every IT professional periodically needs to ponder. These are major life decisions that can impact your partner and family.
Make time to reflect
In the workplace we spend every day dealing with IT projects, operations and day-to-day stress. For most of us, this includes tasks that we love and, perhaps, some we hate.
The classic reference book for those considering a new position or a career change is What Colour is my Parachute? — it contains some good common sense advice and guidance, but it won’t remove the need for you to analyse your options.
I’ve been in this situation a few times and have experienced sleepless nights. One thing that worked for me is to writing down all those words swirling around in my head.
It really doesn't matter if this is a list or word cloud or mind map. The critical thing is to map out all those items from your brain to paper. I assure you that once written down, it looks much more manageable.
This reflection time is critical and will only help to clarify what is important for your career.
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Once you realise that career management is your own responsibility, updating your CV is a natural step.
I recall an executive who came to myself for advice around his IT career; let’s call him Ross. Ross had been fortunate enough to receive various job offers and just could not decide between them.
For five or six months he had engaged in discussions and just could not come to any conclusion.
At this point Ross called me for advice. I recall telling him that I had already given many hours of counsel and he was still paralysed. I gave him an ultimatum: I would not talk to him anymore until he made his decision. At which point I hung up.
Last time I checked in with Ross, he had made the move — and it turned out to be a great career decision. Don’t be Ross. Take ownership of your own IT career.
Some actions to consider for 2018
As you consider changing careers, there is also the opportunity to reskill yourself with new competencies that add to your value to an employer.
One option is attending one of the many meetups that are held nearly every day in most cities. These are great networking events with interesting content; of course some are better than others and you have to attend during your own private time.
Remember that this is your career you are dealing with, and attending that event on blockchain or on payments innovation technology can be a rewarding experience.
A second thought is to seek out a mentor to help you think through your career and where you are.
The best advice I can provide here is to buy a few potential mentors a coffee and see where it takes you. There are mentors who will donate their time for free and others who receive a small stipend.
I’ve heard arguments both ways around the merits of different forms of mentorship. The key point is to find a person who you can trust and discuss your IT career with. This will require time and effort from them — and from you.
Once you have tried one or more of these ideas then I suggest an update of your CV will be more focused and the ultimate outcome will be much better.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.