One of the benefits for job seekers in a competitive sector like infrastructure in technology is that the power balance shifts slightly more in their favour.
Aside from a potential increase in remuneration, this also means that there’s more choice, which – and we’re taking a long-term view here – means they can be more specific in their technology career strategy.
And whilst that seems to only be good for the job seeker, to the detriment of the employer, the reality is likely that everyone stands to gain. There’s plenty of evidence (Person-Organization Theory) to suggest that employees that are happy, motivated and satisfied in their jobs perform better, stay longer and act as advocates for the employer.
The traditional advice is to develop and maintain a career plan and we wholeheartedly agree with that. Much like a company tends to do better when they have a strategy in place, people do too. But as always, there are several ways to skin a cat, from the five-year-plan to just a set of SMART-goals for your tech career. Or just use the visual trick this Google executive used.
It matters little how you do it, only that you do it.
If you’re struggling to get a handle on what form your technology career strategy will take, then simply consider the following areas, writing down a few sentences summarising your thoughts and aspirations should help you see the next move more clearly.
Programming languages – what are my skills today, what do I need to develop, do I need to learn anything new? In which type of company do I stand the best chances of developing myself the most? Does all of this make sense in terms of my medium-term goals (e.g. the next two roles after this)?
Technologies, platforms, and products – similarly to above, you need to take stock of what you know and have experience of, what you’re lacking and how and where you can get exposure. You also need to decide whether you will pursue what you’re good at, or whether you have a particular interest and want to move in that direction. When it comes to products, there are also choices to be made what type of company is right for you.
In a startup company, you’re likely to be exposed to a wider variety of tasks, which some people prefer. In terms of your career, this sort of slightly broader experience does tend to give you a certain flexibility when it comes to changing roles. In a larger, established firm, the remit is often more defined, allowing you to develop a deep subject matter expertise.
Greenfield or brownfield – what type of project do you want to work on? Are you creative? Do you like pushing boundaries or playing it safe? If you’re leaning towards the former, taking on a role that involves working on a greenfield project might be a better bet.
Culture – one of the buzzwords of the last few years, it’s really become a big deal, both from an employer’s point of view and candidates’. There’s a lot you can do about finding out what a prospective company’s culture is like is like, from Glassdoor to the JobCrowd, but if it was us, we would insist on visiting with the team as a part of the interview process, or at least before starting, as well as getting hold of a few people who already work there and hear what they have to say.
Business skills – what are your longer terms ambitions? Are you looking to be a subject matter expert or a leader of people? Do you have ambitions of a C-suite career? Depending on what your response is, there is a number of other skills that you need to develop along the way – for example finance, business management, leadership, communications and strategic thinking, to name a few.
Company reputation – whether they are considered a good/attractive employer or not should also be taken into account. Siding with an organisation that turns out to be a little rotten can hamper your career prospects, as the employees of Uber experienced recently.
So there it is; some food for thought and, hopefully, some useful pointers. Just remember, don’t feel you need to produce this great big detailed plan. Start with a small step, and then iterate –it’s better to do something small than nothing at all.
And of course, if you’d like to get some advice from one of our career experts, you’ll find the relevant contact details here: Cloud & Platforms, Cyber Security, Service Management and Senior Appointments.
Good luck out there!