Career Strategy – Finding the Right Fit

The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them. George Harrison

Have you ever experienced that moment in your career when you’re sitting there thinking ‘what am I doing here? I’d rather be doing X or Y.’ Epiphanies sometimes strike like a bolt out of the blue and with clarity that deserves some serious consideration.  An event like this can be somewhat unsettling to some and easily dismissed or discounted by others. In reality, you should resist the urge to discount these ideas as they may present you with real alternatives, or at least force you to get a perspective on your current career situation.

To this end, here are a few pointers, which if obvious to you, should be invaluable in the IT mentoring of your own team:

  • Fashions change: Just like clothing, a one size fits all approach for managing careers are not exactly practical. Career strategies should be tailored to the individual and the prevailing environment. Being able to work in an environment that is satisfying to you, will allow you to use your best skills every day and will help add substance to your professional life. IT mentoring can help immensely, as doing this alone not only requires deliberate effort but also developing an appropriate perspectives from a subjective perspective is not easy.
  • Hunter or farmer? What’s your modus-operandi? Do you see yourself as a career opportunist? Like the hunter, are you lying in wait for the next opportunity to cross your path, then hope you can beat the opposition to get the role?  Alternatively, like a farmer, you are consciously preparing the groundwork, putting in the right ingredients, and tending your career with a longer term view in mind?
  • Change is not small change: Another thing to take into account is the fact that the rate of change is high, and accelerating – fueled in most part by technological change. Business environments, technologies and expectations of you in your job, when combined with the prevailing challenges and uncertainties in national economies, can make for a potentially unhappy mix.
  • The right environment: Are workplace environments a consideration? It includes both the tangible and intangible environment. An environment that challenges your personal values and sense of well-being on a daily basis may ultimately result in cynicism, burnout and overall career dissatisfaction, not because the role doesn’t suit you, just because the environment is not right for you – possibly too ‘political’ for your liking, has a culture of bullying, or expectations of the work-work balance (as opposed to the work-life balance!) . Great job, but not so the culture or working environment.
  • Genetic diversity = resilience: A core tenet of your career strategy should be the development of related skills and experience. This will give you options in a changing environment, as multi-skilled, multi-talented individuals will be inherently more resilient. If you have run out of options, which often arise in situations of high unemployment and decaying economies, any role is appealing.  That’s where you don’t want to be!

Considering the above should provide a thought starter about what you really want to do with your career from here on. As a manager of your own career, it’s important that you manage yourself in a way that gives you options

Essentially, there is no point in persisting to wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Spending time and effort cutting, tailoring and letting out seams will allow you to find the perfect fit for you.   Either that, or ditch the suit, and change your gear altogether, but test your assumptions with objectivity and rigour.  This is where working through an IT mentoring program can be the differentiator.  Choose your personal and business mentor wisely!