When to Jump Ship and Find a New Employer

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Today’s IT professional knows one thing for sure: Loyalty is low on the list when it comes to the employer-employee relationship. It’s not that IT pros aren’t loyal — it’s just that sometimes, from a career perspective, it’s not expedient to be so. If you’re not getting along with your manager, if the company’s not doing as well as it used to or if the company is not financially supportive of further educational opportunities, you might want to consider jumping ship. But before you decide to leave, you should be aware of conditions in your work environment before they escalate to an intolerable state.

“IT people tend to be very focused on their work and often — not always — not focused enough on the corporate culture or the political climate in their departments and their company,” said Bettina Seidman, a Manhattan-based career coach and president of SEIDBET Associates. “When they get unhappy, they just leave or start looking to leave because they’re not tuned in to the situation. What they need to do is begin to network internally and try to get a sense of what’s going on: whether they’re alone in their feelings, or whether there are some changes coming down the pike. They need to join a couple of professional organizations, so that they can get a sense of what people outside their company know about what’s going on inside their company and also have a sense of whether there’s a major change in the industry and not only local.”

One of the first logical places to clue in to this climate is the annual performance appraisal, Seidman said.

“You really need to develop a relationship with your manager to get a sense of where you stand in general and what’s going on in the department in terms of change,” she said. “Are they downsizing, or is there a chance for promotion? Once you have that going, if you’ve been passed over for a promotion you’re more likely to find out why. It may not be personal or a statement about how you’re viewed in the department — it may be that somebody got the job who really had a piece that you just didn’t have. It’s important to understand what the issues are.”

Seidman said another critical factor to consider when evaluating whether to stay or to go is education.

“Because technology changes so quickly, you have to look to yourself and not expect your company to train you,” she said. “Companies are less interested in providing training for people. You’re responsible for your own career development — nobody else is. In the last 10 or 15 years, people have become more aware of that, but the truth is it was always true, it’s just more true now. You have to be proactive.”

Finally, Seidman said when you’re ready to seriously jump ship, remember the way to find a job is not to sit at your desk at home and only look on the Internet.

“That’s the single worst way to find a job,” she said. “Reach out for a career coach, improve your networking skills — that is the best single way to find a new job.”

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