Does Your Job Need a Jump Start?
It’s common for IT professionals to reach a point in their careers when they feel like they’re on autopilot. Maybe they’re working with the same technologies day in and day out or repeatedly performing only a handful of unchallenging tasks. Whatever the cause, the result is the same: They lack the enthusiasm they once held for their roles.
For some, the experience is just a temporary decline in job satisfaction, but for others it is more serious: Their careers are stuck in neutral. How can you tell if you’ve fallen off the fast track? Here are some warning signs:
- You can’t recall when you last learned something new at work.
- You have asked your manager for more responsibility but have been given none.
- You see little opportunity for advancement.
- Your organization does not provide training or cover education expenses, making it difficult for you to grow professionally.
- Promotion from within is rare. Instead, vacancies are filled by external job candidates.
Shifting into High Gear
Before you pack your bags and start looking for a job elsewhere, consider whether you have really explored all possibilities with your current employer. If you haven’t mentioned your concerns to your manager, he or she might not even be aware of your desire to try something new. You might be surprised at how easy it is to make a change in the company if you initiate a conversation with your supervisor. If you have requested new responsibilities in the past and received little support, schedule a meeting with your boss to reiterate your interest and offer suggestions for how you might begin taking on the desired duties.
Also look for ways to stretch your abilities. Most firms regularly roll out new initiatives or encounter business problems that need resolution. Volunteering to get involved can give you a professional challenge and help you gain visibility as a team player or project leader.
Additionally, consider whether your own actions might be contributing to your lack of momentum. If you arrive at work each Monday dreading what’s ahead, others might pick up on your negativity. Your poor attitude could explain why your manager is unwilling to give you more projects that stretch your abilities or promote you to senior positions. It’s a bit of a catch-22. You lack enthusiasm because you need a new challenge, yet you are not being tapped for more visible roles because supervisors feel you lack motivation. To move up, you must demonstrate that you are both qualified and engaged in your work. Ask colleagues how they perceive you at work to make sure you’re not sabotaging your chances for advancement.
Knowing When It’s Time to Move On
If you feel you’ve done all you can to improve your situation, your best option might be to look for a new job. It’s a shame, but some employers fail to recognize initiative, and they lose good people in the process. Prior to making the leap, make sure your skills are marketable. You might need to pursue additional training or certifications.
Before you take your next job, evaluate prospective employers carefully and ask the right questions during interviews. Some key areas to assess include advancement potential within the firm, education and training programs, and exposure to new technologies and challenging work. Many times, interviews will include opportunities to meet with potential co-workers, so take advantage of this time to find out about individual histories and satisfaction with the company.
If you’re not constantly learning and growing in your job, it’s easy to lose motivation. Just don’t rely on your employer to recognize your desire for change. The best managers will be attuned to your needs. Others might need a friendly reminder.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.