Does your IT career need a jolt of speed? Use these five tips to get moving again on your career path

Source: The Enterprisers Project – A career in software engineering or IT can sometimes feel like high-stakes gambling. New technologies and languages are always emerging and evolving, and new opportunities often involve taking risks and choosing between startups that could experience tremendous success – or flame out within months.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things more treacherous. While many use moments of crisis to consider major life and career changes, a recent article from Harvard Business Review points out that in reality, “threatening situations prompt us to behave more conservatively,” leading to potentially stalled careers.

The pandemic has had an even more acute effect on women in the workplace. According to a poll from CNBC and Survey Monkey, 22 percent of women have experienced a career setback within the past 12 months.

Realizing that your career has stalled or that you aren’t on track to reach your goals can lead to feelings of disappointment, dread, and anxiety. However, there is a positive for those working in tech: The same volatility that can make career development feel like a run at the blackjack table also provides a constant source of opportunity. Reinventing yourself and getting out of a rut may be as simple as learning a new coding language or reaching out to a fast-growing startup in your area.

IT career path advice: 5 ways to move past stalls

Do you feel like your IT career needs a jolt of adrenaline? Here are five tips to get things moving again:

1. Recognize the danger in comfort

Feeling stalled in your current position most likely means that you have mastered your current responsibilities. While we should always strive to excel at our work, it’s important to recognize when we’ve become too comfortable. It can feel great to perform our jobs with ease and have time to exhale, but comfort can easily lead to stagnation, followed by boredom and resentment.

Take personal growth into your own hands. When your job has become too easy, take a survey of the technologies being widely adopted throughout your industry. Trends like containerization and Kubernetes are likely to shape the next decade of jobs in IT and software development. Getting in on the ground floor of a transformational software tool will put you in a smart position.

2. Find the barrier-free path

A stalled career isn’t always the result of complacency. In some cases, a small or struggling company will not have the headcount to offer you opportunities to advance internally. If you can’t identify a clear path to advancement in your current position, don’t wait for something to open – stagnation won’t get better with time.

Many job seekers look for their next opportunity with the mindset that they must find a higher-level opportunity; to these people, a lateral move to a different company feels like a step backward. These positions need to be looked at in the context of the broader enterprise. If a larger company offers a broad range of possibilities in terms of promotions, skill-building, and professional development, a lateral move could be hugely beneficial for long-term growth.

3. Look beyond yourself

There is a common debate in sports when considering who should win the Most Valuable Player award. If the best player in the league plays on a losing team, can they truly be considered the most valuable? The same principle can be applied to career development. If you believe that you’re being passed over for promotion, look around and consider your team’s performance. 

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