Open post New Year New Career

What to Consider When Considering a New Career in the New Year

New Year New Career

New year, new resolutions, should a career change be one?

New Year’s is that time when we reflect on who we have been, who we want to be, and what we can do to move a little bit closer to our ideal self. It’s time for self-realization and assessment of where we are professionally and personally.

For most heading into the New Year, there is generally more of an open-mindedness towards keeping career options open, or at least networking to gain an understanding of the current job market and one’s value within it. What fewer people seem to do is to deeply consider what it is that they both like and dislike about their current role. This is important because without a solid and fundamental understanding of where we are in relation to where we want to be, and without getting in contact with those basic human elements that are responsible for our motivations, we are bound to repeat our same patterns, even if they are not optimal.

In this New Year, ask yourself why you have stayed where you are for so long, what would you change about your current situation, and why it is that you are considering change other than the arbitrary start of a new calendar year? Hopefully, you will arrive at the conclusion that you have stayed in your current role for good reason. While there is a time to consider a career change, don’t do so expecting an impossible perfection from a future role when your current one is great. On the other hand, don’t fall into the trap of convincing yourself that your mediocre role is great without seeking answers to hard questions.

For a start, consider some basics: do you have the title that you want, is there a path in your current company towards that title if you don’t have it, what is the timeline to get there? Are you even title sensitive? Is your company as flat or as structured as you would like it to be? Is your company culture one that is strong, one that you have an affinity for, and one that is inclusive?

Is your company hiring people that are easy to work with? Do you have the freedom and autonomy that you would prefer to have? Are you comfortable that the impact you are making is substantial enough? Are you providing products or services that bring you immense pride? Are the products cutting edge enough for you? Is there a stability that you are experiencing that is difficult to sacrifice even if the perfect opportunity presented itself? There is a whole myriad of concrete and common reasons behind strong positive or negative feelings towards your current role, or even the ennui that paralyzes you into quasi-satisfaction.

If your recruiting consultant is a good recruiting consultant, they should be able to direct you. They should not hesitate to listen and tell you when you actually are in a good situation, and they should be aggressive enough to help you find a step closer to towards an ideal change should your current situation not be satisfactory. If you aren’t asked basic motivational questions, you risk a fate of being in a role where you are unaware of whether or not it is the best fit for you at best, and you risk moving to a situation that is ultimately less satisfactory at worst.

Which Technical Skills Should I Acquire?

by Torrie Arnold

Among the most common and worst questions that recruiters are consistently asked, “What technical skill(s) should I acquire to increase my marketability?” It’s a question commonly asked and a clear answer from a recruiter unwittingly places the candidate at risk. Changing labor market demands, a misunderstanding of one of the most common elements of success, and the massive amount of time it takes to properly develop a skill should have already placed this question in obsolescence.

Typically I answer this question in pointing out what we all know to be obvious. With the general labor market changing rapidly, the tech sector is perhaps the most dynamic and rapidly changing of all. Skills that were in demand 6 months ago from any specific point in time within the last three years have almost all faded towards saturation at best, obscurity at worst. Successful developers, architects, security engineers etc. have all risen to and maintained their edge in either developing new skills of honing expertise in one area. Constantly developing new technical skills to keep up with the market allows one to remain marketable, but can sometimes feel taxing like a treadmill that won’t stop. Contrarily, developing a true expertise may allow one to carve out a particular niche within a larger industry, but limits the scope of future opportunities.  Remaining a successful engineer will require either diversification or specialization, and won’t be easy either way. It’s best to start where your interests are than where the market is temporarily placing its spotlight.

With the above in mind, it doesn’t make much sense to choose a direction purely based on current market demand. However, we are also aware that failing to plan means planning to fail, and we know where we will ultimately end up in choosing to develop a skill that has no market demand. What next? As naïve as it sounds; following your passion is the best way to start. Identifying those areas with relative demand is rather simple, just check a few pages of local job listings and assess what skills the labor market is in need of, and take a personal inventory of what interests you most, if you haven’t already. Few common threads run amongst the most successful people in the world, but passion for what they do is one that is undeniable. Not only will you have more fun in acquiring such skills that you love, but you will also be more driven to meet the changing landscape of what will be needed now and later to achieve your personal passions and goals. Where do you start? Wherever you most want to, the where you start shouldn’t be determined without first recognizing your passion as the why.

The massive amount of time it takes to learn a new element of security, learn a new programming language proficiently enough to list on your resume, attain a Microsoft or Cisco certification, etc. is not going to be the best use of your time unless the pursuit of these skills is at least partly for reasons of self-edification and sincere interest. Rather than pursue the in-demand skill of today that you are half-heartedly interested in and won’t be in demand by the time you acquire it, it may be best to spend your time networking, learning who the organizations in your particular field are and what they do, request and attend informational interviews, learn how to market yourself in the resume and in the interview, and make sure you have a recruiting consultant that listens and partners with you in helping you to reach your goals.

Your career will most likely be a long road, denying your personal interests and refusing to be ruthless with your time will make this road all the more arduous and all the less enjoyable.

#keeplearning

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