Discussions

IT people: pay attention to your career!

+
0 Votes
Locked

IT people: pay attention to your career!

The IT Skeptic
I've been in the distressing situation of seeing good friends laid off. Even more distressing was when I saw it coming but never quite got around to talking to the friend in question because he was in a different city. I often wonder if I could have saved him that turmoil.

IT people often think that their technical knowledge makes them too valuable to sack, rather than understanding their business value. i.e. Joe sees himself as priceless while his boss sees him as useless :-)

So I highly commend to you these articles that appeared a while ago:
How Secure is Your Technical Career? http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/career/article.php/3662621 ("As you get older, you get slower, uglier and more expensive.")
and Strategies For Securing Your IT Career
http://www.itcareerplanet.com/news/article.php/3674261 ("If you are an IT technical person of increasing seniority (and cost), here are options for staying ahead of the layoffs.")

Please make sure you don't let this happen to you, or at the very least you see it coming and are prepared.
  • +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Anybody in our game who hasn't figured out stuff changes either started yesterday or they are Rip Van Winkle.

    As for the new guys being better, well you are making me laugh, cheaper yes, better one in ten thousand, have to be an absolute natural.
    Adding value is very hard to quantify, having the potential to, even harder, your salary no problem.

    Nothing wrong with the presented options, but if some one decides to go with cheap, how good and how much value you add, doesn't matter for crap. Take a pay cut, if you really want to keep the job.

    Best pieces of advice I can give after twenty years in the game.

    Never confuse your job with your career.

    It's your career, let someone else control it, you'll be worked 'til you drop and then sold to make glue.

    The first thing that happens to the indispensable employee is management have a meeting on the the fastest way to get rid of them.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    Late? People still making this mistake, Tony. Everyone knows technology changes. What many don't realise is that technology isn't the game any more, service and process are.

    And I agree the new kids may not be "better" depending on how you define it. The bosses see someone with twice the positive attitude, three times the energy, a tenth the knowledge and half the salary. How do they define "better"? depends on just how much knowledge and skill the boss needs to meet the minimum business requirement.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    I have n't lasted twenty years in this business by hiding in a cubicle masking my deficiencies.

    UK based, no cublicle, the pople you describe wouldn't last a month in the UK.

    As for energy and positive attitude, Management still have to tranquilise me on a regular basis.

    I can do it better, faster, more robust, more extendable and more secure. I can put the hours in and I still enjoy it.

    Anyone who needs my skillset and employs some wet behind the spoons graduate in place of me, simply can't add up.

    The only real cost incentive would be if there wasn't enough work to occupy me full time.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    Good on you Tony. I hope that continues to work for you.

    It hasn't worked for at least ten colleagues that I can think of over the last five to ten years.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    After ten years, I knew nothing worth mentioning.

    Twenty years continuous employment in IT.

    Young, old, this skill, that skill, degreed, certified, self taught.

    Can you back it up and how far will you go in order to preserve your reputation for doing so.

    Attitude is everything, good employers know that.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    I don't think you got my drift. I'm saying I have seen the trend in the last few years of long-serving skilled people laid off because they lost sight of what the company valued as compared to what they thought was important.

    personally i changed my first tape in 1978

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    the higher-ups HATE the wunder-kinder with a white-hot passion.

    Being one is the fastest route to the unemployment line.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    That's not quite what i meant. Nobody likes the "I learnt everything in university now let me tell you how" smart-***.

    But in my experience bosses like the smart hardworking guy who is grateful for a good job, single and willing to be flexible about hours, has lower pay expectations, and hasn't (yet) developed an overblown sense of his own usefulness.

    You don't make them your chief architect but you do make then understudy to your dba, sysop, net admin, developers, change mgr, level 2 techs etc getting ready to replace them. I've seen it.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    for a job, it isn't a good one.

    Ever

    Gratitude never lasts, expecting gratitude decreases it's longevity exponentially.

    No wonder these people are choosing newborns, do they steal their candy as they come in the door?

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    ...and not much else.

    I made the mistake of being the workhorse once.

    I had the shop running so efficiently that they decided they didn't need quite so many people...

    buh bye Richard!

    Not again.

    I love my current job, I do great work, but I don't let stuff get pushed onto me.

    There is another concern.

    If you allow yourself to be the workhorse, you soon become another barnyard animal...

    The scapegoat.

    +
    0 Votes
    Ironspider

    While there are numerous professional, technological, and 'staying ahead of the curve' ways to help keep your job, there is one way that seems to be often overlooked in IT and Engineering. Social skills, get some*. Get away from your computer at least one night a week and go out and interact with real live people in the real live world. Do not do this in a computer club, lan-party, gaming store, comic shop, or internet cafe. Try to find something where you have to talk to people about topics that you do not normally talk about. Learn to small talk about anything other than IT. You may not think this has anything to do with keeping your job, but trust me, employers like people that are not merely drones.

    *this is not directed at anyone on this site, just at the stereotypical IT person.

    +
    0 Votes
    ITEngineerGuy

    Ironspider, good advice. I would hire lack of skill over skilled when a skilled person has no people skills. I can teach a less technical person to support a network but I can't train them on how to get along with people.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    doubly effective if that activity should happen to be golf :-D

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    Hi, stereotypical IT person here.

    I've read "how to win friends and influence peope", and "the seven habbits of highly effective people" as well as "what color is your parachute", and other books. It does not seem to work.

    I can't stand crowds, noise or bright lights. (mild autism).

    How does one learn 'small talk', btw?

    +
    0 Votes
    neilb@uk

    Start off by listening

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    Knowledge and application are two things.

    I know the "What" but not the "When" or "Why".

    Small talk is based on various social cues. How does one learn those cues.


    When is the right time to inquire about the family of another?

    How familiar do you have to be with another person to ask such a question?

    Does most small talk revolve around weather?

    +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    Listening is a skill to develop. It is far more than hearing someone's words.

    Active listening is involves the process of hearing what was said, asking questions to clarify (even if you think you already know the answer), watching for visual cues, and providing the lisetener with feedback.

    When do you inquire about someone's family? When they volunteer something about their family, thats a cue that they like to talk about it. People who don't talk at all about family usually don't want to.

    I go for coffee with my work mates on a regular basis - sometimes a peer, sometimes an employee who works for me, sometimes someone else. Although we have free coffee here, its not very good, so I take the time to leave the office environment and talk one on one or in a small group.

    I ask simple questions - how is it going? Whats new? what are you working on? That usually opens things up into a discussion.
    What they choose to talk about is another cue - what is important to them.

    When should you do this? When you find people open to it.

    One place I worked very early at my career frowned upon my frequent socialization (even though all my work got done and I often put in 50 hour weeks to do more). But I have since learned that this is a highly valuable skill.

    Taking the direct and formal approach is often not the best when confronting emotional issues. Learning to make small talk will help you how to approach a subject indirectly and in an open and non-confrontational manner.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of building relationships in the workplace. When a crisis hits I find that the people I can trust and count on are the ones that I have built a personal relationship with. It also helps to know people personally when you have to interpret how they communicate professionally.

    As an example, I had a confrontation with someone earlier this week. He had been reluctant to have someone in his group assist someoen in my group with a major issue as it was going to take up a lot of time and he needed to get permission from higher up. This person is someone I play cards with at lunch and golf with on occasion. I was mad, and I raised my voice, and he left my office. He returned later, and the thing that kept the issue from escalating was the fact we knew each other personally and socially as well as in a business environment helped us overcome the issue.

    James

  • +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    Anybody in our game who hasn't figured out stuff changes either started yesterday or they are Rip Van Winkle.

    As for the new guys being better, well you are making me laugh, cheaper yes, better one in ten thousand, have to be an absolute natural.
    Adding value is very hard to quantify, having the potential to, even harder, your salary no problem.

    Nothing wrong with the presented options, but if some one decides to go with cheap, how good and how much value you add, doesn't matter for crap. Take a pay cut, if you really want to keep the job.

    Best pieces of advice I can give after twenty years in the game.

    Never confuse your job with your career.

    It's your career, let someone else control it, you'll be worked 'til you drop and then sold to make glue.

    The first thing that happens to the indispensable employee is management have a meeting on the the fastest way to get rid of them.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    Late? People still making this mistake, Tony. Everyone knows technology changes. What many don't realise is that technology isn't the game any more, service and process are.

    And I agree the new kids may not be "better" depending on how you define it. The bosses see someone with twice the positive attitude, three times the energy, a tenth the knowledge and half the salary. How do they define "better"? depends on just how much knowledge and skill the boss needs to meet the minimum business requirement.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    I have n't lasted twenty years in this business by hiding in a cubicle masking my deficiencies.

    UK based, no cublicle, the pople you describe wouldn't last a month in the UK.

    As for energy and positive attitude, Management still have to tranquilise me on a regular basis.

    I can do it better, faster, more robust, more extendable and more secure. I can put the hours in and I still enjoy it.

    Anyone who needs my skillset and employs some wet behind the spoons graduate in place of me, simply can't add up.

    The only real cost incentive would be if there wasn't enough work to occupy me full time.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    Good on you Tony. I hope that continues to work for you.

    It hasn't worked for at least ten colleagues that I can think of over the last five to ten years.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    After ten years, I knew nothing worth mentioning.

    Twenty years continuous employment in IT.

    Young, old, this skill, that skill, degreed, certified, self taught.

    Can you back it up and how far will you go in order to preserve your reputation for doing so.

    Attitude is everything, good employers know that.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    I don't think you got my drift. I'm saying I have seen the trend in the last few years of long-serving skilled people laid off because they lost sight of what the company valued as compared to what they thought was important.

    personally i changed my first tape in 1978

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    the higher-ups HATE the wunder-kinder with a white-hot passion.

    Being one is the fastest route to the unemployment line.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    That's not quite what i meant. Nobody likes the "I learnt everything in university now let me tell you how" smart-***.

    But in my experience bosses like the smart hardworking guy who is grateful for a good job, single and willing to be flexible about hours, has lower pay expectations, and hasn't (yet) developed an overblown sense of his own usefulness.

    You don't make them your chief architect but you do make then understudy to your dba, sysop, net admin, developers, change mgr, level 2 techs etc getting ready to replace them. I've seen it.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tony Hopkinson

    for a job, it isn't a good one.

    Ever

    Gratitude never lasts, expecting gratitude decreases it's longevity exponentially.

    No wonder these people are choosing newborns, do they steal their candy as they come in the door?

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    ...and not much else.

    I made the mistake of being the workhorse once.

    I had the shop running so efficiently that they decided they didn't need quite so many people...

    buh bye Richard!

    Not again.

    I love my current job, I do great work, but I don't let stuff get pushed onto me.

    There is another concern.

    If you allow yourself to be the workhorse, you soon become another barnyard animal...

    The scapegoat.

    +
    0 Votes
    Ironspider

    While there are numerous professional, technological, and 'staying ahead of the curve' ways to help keep your job, there is one way that seems to be often overlooked in IT and Engineering. Social skills, get some*. Get away from your computer at least one night a week and go out and interact with real live people in the real live world. Do not do this in a computer club, lan-party, gaming store, comic shop, or internet cafe. Try to find something where you have to talk to people about topics that you do not normally talk about. Learn to small talk about anything other than IT. You may not think this has anything to do with keeping your job, but trust me, employers like people that are not merely drones.

    *this is not directed at anyone on this site, just at the stereotypical IT person.

    +
    0 Votes
    ITEngineerGuy

    Ironspider, good advice. I would hire lack of skill over skilled when a skilled person has no people skills. I can teach a less technical person to support a network but I can't train them on how to get along with people.

    +
    0 Votes
    The IT Skeptic

    doubly effective if that activity should happen to be golf :-D

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    Hi, stereotypical IT person here.

    I've read "how to win friends and influence peope", and "the seven habbits of highly effective people" as well as "what color is your parachute", and other books. It does not seem to work.

    I can't stand crowds, noise or bright lights. (mild autism).

    How does one learn 'small talk', btw?

    +
    0 Votes
    neilb@uk

    Start off by listening

    +
    0 Votes
    Locrian_Lyric

    Knowledge and application are two things.

    I know the "What" but not the "When" or "Why".

    Small talk is based on various social cues. How does one learn those cues.


    When is the right time to inquire about the family of another?

    How familiar do you have to be with another person to ask such a question?

    Does most small talk revolve around weather?

    +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    Listening is a skill to develop. It is far more than hearing someone's words.

    Active listening is involves the process of hearing what was said, asking questions to clarify (even if you think you already know the answer), watching for visual cues, and providing the lisetener with feedback.

    When do you inquire about someone's family? When they volunteer something about their family, thats a cue that they like to talk about it. People who don't talk at all about family usually don't want to.

    I go for coffee with my work mates on a regular basis - sometimes a peer, sometimes an employee who works for me, sometimes someone else. Although we have free coffee here, its not very good, so I take the time to leave the office environment and talk one on one or in a small group.

    I ask simple questions - how is it going? Whats new? what are you working on? That usually opens things up into a discussion.
    What they choose to talk about is another cue - what is important to them.

    When should you do this? When you find people open to it.

    One place I worked very early at my career frowned upon my frequent socialization (even though all my work got done and I often put in 50 hour weeks to do more). But I have since learned that this is a highly valuable skill.

    Taking the direct and formal approach is often not the best when confronting emotional issues. Learning to make small talk will help you how to approach a subject indirectly and in an open and non-confrontational manner.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of building relationships in the workplace. When a crisis hits I find that the people I can trust and count on are the ones that I have built a personal relationship with. It also helps to know people personally when you have to interpret how they communicate professionally.

    As an example, I had a confrontation with someone earlier this week. He had been reluctant to have someone in his group assist someoen in my group with a major issue as it was going to take up a lot of time and he needed to get permission from higher up. This person is someone I play cards with at lunch and golf with on occasion. I was mad, and I raised my voice, and he left my office. He returned later, and the thing that kept the issue from escalating was the fact we knew each other personally and socially as well as in a business environment helped us overcome the issue.

    James