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5 Ways the Great Resignation Can Boost Your Tech Career

Leslie Stevens-Huffman, Dice Insights
October 18, 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re in the midst of a “Great Resignation,” with 4.3 million additional people quitting their jobs in August. What’s more, nearly half of the tech employees we surveyed said they were likely to find a new job in 2021.

Can times of labor market turmoil actually benefit technologists’ careers? Yes, if you play your cards right. Here are some ways to come out on top during the “Great Resignation.”

Fill the Vacuum
Resignations are highest among mid-career employees, with many at the VP or director level, noted Timothy Thomas, lead executive coach at Coaching Technology Group.

When a mid-level tech manager leaves, it often has a ripple effect, disrupting positions up and down the chain of command. If you are interested in becoming a manager or team lead, now’s the time to throw your hat in the ring. Alternatively, let your departing boss know that you might be interested in following him to a new company for a higher-level position.

“The key to landing a promotion when positions are being reshuffled is having someone ready to take your place,” Thomas said.

Manage up by letting the people above you know that you are interested and qualified, and that you’ve got a replacement ready to go. Then seal the deal by helping the person below you manage up, as well.

Maximize Negotiation Power and Leverage
Many technologists and managers have struggled to deliver results consistently at high levels over the last 24 months, noted Ravi Raman, executive coach and owner of Raman Coaching.

If you’ve been able to make an impact by shipping code or developing products on time, or been successful at leading teams while working remotely, your boss may be willing to sweeten the pot to keep you from leaving.

Since pay raises and performance reviews often come near the end of the year, now’s the time to reassess your market value. If you find that you’re underpaid, or if your company doled out nominal raises during the lockdown, you’re in a perfect position to ask for a substantial salary increase and/or reimbursements for training, formal education or certification tests.

Consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found that more than two-thirds of employers plan to differentiate and customize their benefit programs over the next two years in response to tight labor markets. For example, Amazon has offered more than 750,000 U.S. workers the opportunity to pursue a fully paid bachelor’s degree.

“Employers are looking for ways to retool existing tech employees in an effort to stay ahead of the organization’s technology needs,” Raman said. In light of that, coming into your manager’s office with a possible solution to those needs (i.e., compensating you adequately to keep you onboard) will likely be viewed a win-win.

Relocate to Improve Your Standard of Living
Now that your employer has settled on a remote-first or hybrid work model, you may be able to relocate to a city with a lower cost of living and improve your quality of life. But here’s the catch: Make sure you disclose your plans. Lock down your salary and how often you need to come into the office before you move.

Taking a pay cut to telecommute from a cheaper city might be okay, but only if you come out ahead. Also, in most cases, having a remote employee obligates an employer to file tax returns and pay taxes in the local jurisdiction where an employee works. Your employer may not be willing to go to all that trouble for just one or two employees.

Change Specialties
Most employees cite burnout and lack of growth opportunities for quitting. In order for businesses to thrive and retain staff, employers are making an effort to support employees’ career goals by offering reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

Offering to fill a hard-to-source position involving cybersecurity, A.I./machine learning, data science/analytics or DevOps/DevSecOps/Agile not only improves your brain health, morale and negotiating power, it solves a big problem for CIOs and HR.

According to our research, if you can meet 60 percent of the requirements as an internal candidate (or 75 percent as an external candidate) for any job in a high-demand specialty, you can make quite a persuasive case for maintaining or even boosting your salary when you transition to a new role, even if you don’t have all the necessary skills. Why not come up with a step-by-step plan and pitch it to your boss or a prospective employer?

Hit the Market
John Bremen recently called the Great Resignation a bit of a misnomer. Why? Because the vast majority of those who quit one job have simultaneously shifted to a different, more attractive job, thus also prompting “The Great Hire.”

You may find a better opportunity if you test the market—or if you’re willing to take a risk, leverage a competing offer for a raise with your current employer. According to multiple sources, some employers are offering salary raises of up to 25 percent in a bid to hold on to staff who have tendered their resignations. Now seems like the perfect time to roll the dice.

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