Let’s say you got your BS in Computer Science a few years ago, landed an entry level job and worked your way into a web content management position. You were happy doing that, but eventually things changed. Instead of web content work, you were assigned process improvement tasks and dealing with customer issues. System changes made things less technical. You found yourself working more and more with word documents instead of HTML. Not exactly your what you wanted out of an IT career.
The challenge here is getting back into the tech side of IT. Wait too long and your tech skills and knowledge will atrophy and you’ll become unemployable to other firms. If you don’t make a move soon, you’ll be ball-and-chained by processes tied to a specific organization. Your transferable skills will begin to shrink. In Career Advice - The 7 Secrets of Successful IT Careers, Wes Jin explains how to keep pace with the expanding knowledge you’ll need to survive and thrive in the IT industry.
Some suggest going back to school part time to keep current with the latest developments in IT tech. This is one way to avoid leaving a job in today’s job-scarce economy. You could even go for your MS degree in IT. While this will certainly boost your academic cred, employers of late have regarded MS IT job seekers as overqualified. Today’s HR managers want applicable experience over advanced degrees. Better to pursue specific certifications and work your way back into the tech side. In his book, Jin underscores the importance of consistently updated certifications in achieving success in IT.
If you’re not happy, let you supervisor or manager know that you’re interested in web content or software development work and technical tasks. Let him or her know that you’re earning specific certifications and would be happy to segue into other groups or departments. Try working on different open source projects or do some volunteer work. This will allow you to explore various options while gaining new skills—skills another employer may regard as key when looking for IT help.
Consider, too, the option of moving into a business analyst post—at least temporarily. Your process skills, degree and understanding the needs of both users and developers will serve you well. Beyond that, as a business analyst, you’ll deal directly with the people who manage and hire developers. Connect with them and they could get you back into programming.
Managing your IT career takes planning and effort. In Manage your career before it manages you: 10 Tips, leadership trainer and executive coach Ray B. Williams suggests some important ways to make sure your career stays on track. For one, don’t wait till you’re burned out to change careers. And don’t become a workaholic to get noticed or promoted. If you do get laid off, volunteer immediately to keep your skills and knowledge from becoming stale.
If your IT job is moving you away from your career goals, be proactive and take steps now to segue into the career path you want to pursue.
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