By: Jason E Bacani
Welcome back to the latest installment of Tales from Consulting. In this series, I cover experiences, success stories, and lessons learned around consulting (specifically experiences near and dear to me).
Are you interested in development environments? Are you following SDLC principles? Are you familiar with my company, Key2 Consulting? These were all subjects of past Tales installments. Today, I want to discuss the topic of career complacency, and how to avoid it…
Regarding today, 2020 itself has been one heck of a year. This blog post was written in the fall, very close to my recent 48th birthday, I must say, and so far, the world is still experiencing a pandemic where wearing masks is (mostly) a part of every day life. Escapes from the mundane such as public entertainment options like movies, concerts, and Broadway plays are limited. And even professional and collegiate sports (while for the most part continue to offer distractions) are forced to deal with the challenges of the virus.
Thankfully, for a good number of many industry friends and colleagues, the demand for IT remains steady, and thus many are able to continue to work and further their careers. While the workplace is now mostly away from offices and cubicles, amidst other family members, and without daily water cooler discussions, IT industry needs remain strong. That is also thankfully true for myself and for my fellow Key2 Consulting colleagues.
But even with this fortunate period in our careers, one thing to always strive to avoid is career complacency. What is career complacency? To me, it is being content with one’s job and career path, and doing little to further improve one’s place in their job or with their technical skill set. And while it is generally safe and comfortable to stay content with one’s current job situation, there is a danger in feeling that ‘job security’ is enough. And unfortunately, I myself have been a victim to being content with my job…
In early 2004 I was working for a large health insurance company. By that time I was in the IT industry for over six years, having experienced the challenges of Y2K development and refactoring needs, survived the industry fallout of 9/11 in 2001, and weathered the dot com boom and bust of the early 2000s. I remember going from a reporting MIS (management information systems) role to a junior report developer role, having worked with Mainframe IBM reporting with a reporting language called FOCUS (from Information Builders) to working with a true query language system with Oracle PL/SQL. Times were good, and essentially, I was content with my career. I was not prepared to deal with a career-changing event.
By April 2004, with changes in the management structure in my company, I was out of a job and was trying to get back into the workplace. But it was rough to get a job again…very rough. I had not updated my resume since starting my job in 1997. I also did not stay abreast with what technology is out there that related to my career path. And I had a small professional network, with little to no industry connections to call my own. Suffice to say, it took 13 months to get back into the workplace by 2005, where my focus shifted from Oracle PL/SQL to Microsoft SQL Server and TSQL. Additionally, I began to understand the industry of Business Intelligence while also working on a graduate’s degree where by 2010, I earned essentially a dual masters: an MBA with an emphasis in IT Management.
Tales from Consulting is where I share lessons learned. So, the lessoned learned? Do not be content with my job and career situation.
So, what have I’ve done, and what will I continue to do moving forward?
Avoid complacency in the workplace
It is very nice to have a job. It is very nice to have a stable job with no drama, very little issues, and easy to accomplish goals. Those kinds of jobs exist, and I understand the desire to be in one. But being complacent is a trap, as they say. While little to no drama or issues may seem to allow you not to stand out, not standing out means you’re not being noticed, and not being noticed for anything positive or good. Essentially, you are just there.
How to avoid this? You should look to improve yourself regularly in your workplace role, and seek continuous feedback from both your management and from your peers. Yes, you won’t be able to stay on the sidelines anymore, but by working to improve your role and by seeking that feedback, you should be identifying items that may need improvement in your job to ensure you’re not becoming stagnant.
Stay informed with current industry technologies
Thankfully you’re reading blog articles like this and others from Key2 Consulting. But also, you should continue to follow what’s happening in the industry, either by following company blogs or other social media avenues. Yes, there may be a lot going on, but by knowing what is happening or understanding what new technologies are coming out, you will be more informed and better positioned to answer whether you wish to pivot to those new technologies or simply be in the know of what’s new and what’s forthcoming within the industry.
Be prepared to lose your job
Note, this is not to say you need to be paranoid. Instead, just be prepared for that rainy day.
Is your resume current? If it isn’t, it should be. And “current” means including any recent important accomplishments or career moves that are worth noting, as well as including any recent new technologies that you’ve been working with.
How strong is your industry network? Now this may be challenging as many in IT are not the most socially-minded folks out there. That said, LinkedIn is a valuable networking tool. And when working with LinkedIn or any social networking site, please use it wisely. Don’t just connect to someone like Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Unless you know them, that will not be a connection you can leverage when you need to.
Connect to industry peers that you may meet at technology events, whether in person or even virtual. Introduce yourself professionally to your possible connections first before making that formal network connection. That way, the connection is legit, and if and when the time comes, that connection can be more reliable than not.
The Here and Now
In short, career complacency should be avoided as much as possible. It has affected me in the past, and I hope the actions I do and promote above help me avoid being content and avoid a situation where I am without a job for another thirteen months. It is my hope that by sharing my experiences with you, and that by reading this, it helps you to avoid being content and allows you to continue to further your career positively and even gainfully too.-
Thanks for reading. We hope you found this blog post to be useful. Do let us know if you have any questions or topic ideas related to BI, analytics, the cloud, machine learning, SQL Server, Star Wars, or anything else of the like that you’d like us to write about. Simply leave us a comment below, and we’ll see what we can do!
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