Leslie Stevens-Huffman, Dice Insights
September 29, 2022
If you’ve been feeling frustrated and unsatisfied with your career, you’re not alone. Some 80 percent of tech professionals are looking for a new job, according to a survey by Blind.
But these technologists aren’t quietly suffering: More than half said they’d applied for a new job in the past month, while three quarters had spoken with a recruiter. Nearly half had interviewed with another company. But is job-hopping really the solution? Or are some of these technologists suffering from a deeper career crisis?
If you’re feeling stuck on your current career path, don’t agonize over it. Instead, work to head off this “career crisis” and keep moving forward.
Understand the Underlying Causes
Recognizing the root causes of a career crisis can help you develop proactive strategies to address them before you feel overwhelmed.
When your role, industry and/or your work environment become misaligned with your personal and professional goals, it can make you feel demotivated, disheartened or lost, explained Rachel Serwetz, career exploration coach and CEO of WOKEN. This leads some people to feel like they are experiencing a full-blown career crisis.
Here’s how Serwetz defines the basic elements of the framework:
- Your role encompasses your day-to-day activities, responsibilities, projects and the overall style of your everyday work.
- Your industry relates to the ultimate purpose, mission or impact that your company delivers.
- Your environment refers to the company culture and how the physical or intangible environment looks and feels.
“It’s extremely important to enjoy what you do every day, to feel supported and that your work matters,” she added. Rating each of these three areas from one to ten can help you pinpoint one or more areas that are ripe for improvement.
Take a Step Back
When Tyler Hawkins grows weary of doing the same thing over and over, or wonders if he’s wasting his time, the senior software engineer for Adobe pulls himself out of his funk by taking time to reflect and reconnect with his emotional inspiration.
“What I’ve found is that my motivations have changed over time,” Hawkins said. “When you take a step back and find out what motivates you, it’s easier to focus on your priorities and the things you truly want to accomplish at each stage of your career.”
He has been able to regain his mojo over the past eight years by focusing on different aspects of his role that align with his interests—and by seeing the bigger picture. For instance, sometimes he focuses on learning new tools, while other times he concentrates his efforts on achieving the company’s mission or impacting customers’ lives in a positive way. He also talks with his manager about his career aspirations; great managers will always be willing to support your career goals and help you find alignment.
The bottom line is that, by becoming more aware of your motivation and the elements that can affect your happiness and satisfaction, you’ll be able to turn to others for help and be more persistent in planning and reaching your long-term career goals.
Don’t Let Your Job Define You
Professionals are more likely to experience a career crisis when they become so enmeshed in their job that it begins to define them and their self-worth. “Don’t become mono-focused or cut yourself off from people outside the office,” cautioned career coach Susan Drevitch Kelly.
Having interests and hobbies outside of work and deep connections with friends, family and colleagues can not only make you feel more satisfied and resilient, but actually boost your job performance–which helps with promotions and new opportunities. And career growth is one of most effective antidotes for boredom and stagnation.
Upskill Your Way to a Future-Proof Career
In a recent Deloitte survey, a majority of CIOs said that one-third of their staff’s current skill sets will not be relevant in the next three years. Unless those who are lagging behind make an effort to acquire new and complementary skills, they are almost guaranteed to face a career crisis when their current skills no longer meet the requirements for new jobs.
Conversely, engaging in lifelong learning is a great way to maintain your marketability, boost your confidence and maintain interest in your career. After all, just hoping that everything will be okay will get you nowhere. You have to save yourself.
Engage in Regular and Proactive Career Planning
Sitting back and waiting until you burn out or get laid off before you start planning your next career move can lead to stress, bad decisions and even backtracking. And with “mid-career” technically beginning at just five to 10 years into a technology career, you need to engage in regular planning from the outset.
Career planning requires developing a growth mindset, accepting accountability and a practical strategy, Serwetz noted. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to be effective.
Set aside some time each year to assess and revise your professional goals, conduct research and explore your career options. Once you’ve decided on a career path, specialty or spectrum of jobs that will match your goals, try to achieve just one or two small steps or activities each month that will keep you inching forward.