It can be easy to get distracted from our goals, and there's more going on in our lives than we had ever expected. Many of us find ourselves racing to keep pace with daily life, but it's also vital that we make progress on our long-term career goals. Here are some things to keep you moving forward in your IT career, even when the world isn't cooperating.
Make the Most of Career Setbacks
It's an understatement to say that this is a strange time in all of our careers. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed, millions of other employees are furloughed without precedent, and job seekers' outlooks remain uncertain. It turns out that cloud migration isn't the biggest threat to IT employment. Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Becky Frankiewicz offer five suggestions for employees who have been temporarily displaced, but they also give helpful tips for anyone considering a change.
It turns out that cloud migration isn't the biggest threat to IT employment.
For furloughed workers, and those experiencing temporary cuts to pay and hours, the first question is, "Can you afford to wait?" The answer will be a personal decision for every individual, depending on savings, benefits eligibility, and your employer's near-term outlook. Making and sticking to a personal budget can help you answer this question.
Next, consider whether you want to wait. As these authors point out, taking on temporary work in the interim can be an excellent way to try something new. You might reconsider your goals in life, and experiment with alternatives that you wouldn't have taken the risk for before. If you decide to try something new, evaluate how it compares to your last job across multiple dimensions, including work-related stress, work-life balance, professional development opportunities, and the mission and purpose of the organization.
Finally, the authors recommend taking an active approach to your time off. They call it "working the wait." Whether you're advancing your professional skills, branching out to learn something new, or taking more time to improve your physical fitness, staying mentally engaged has health benefits and ultimately can enhance your performance when you return to the office.
Build Your Remote Network
During HDI's SupportWorld Virtual event, I asked a panel of industry experts and pro networkers how they recommend building strong connections during this time (skip to 32:00 to watch their full responses). Ben Brennan of QSTAC suggests, "Be the CEO of your own career. No one is spending more time thinking about your career than you." While you might get lucky occasionally, you shouldn't wait for your career to happen to you. Ben recommends being entrepreneurial and seeking out the work you want.
Chris Chagnon from WPI pointed out that HDI itself offers a variety of networking opportunities, many of which are moving to virtual formats to be more accessible. You can start by finding an HDI Local Chapter in your area or joining the online community, HDIConnect. EasyVista's Evan Carlson reiterated, "From what I've seen of HDI since 2010, it's an awesome network of support professionals." Chris added that he also looks for meetups and user groups sponsored by vendor tools, such as an ITSM tool. Using the same applications is an easy way to break the ice and share ideas that are directly applicable to those you meet.
Don't Stop Learning
It might be challenging to feel motivated to keep learning new things with so much uncertainty, but there's never been a better time to tackle something new. In an article for U.S. News, Robin Reshwan says that "The key to a long and successful career is closely tied to the rate at which you acquire and evolve your skills and mindset." With that, she offers some tips.
First, Reshwan suggests we evaluate how we're using technology to enhance productivity. Go beyond your ITSM system and consider if you're making the most of your personal calendar, task lists, and reminders apps. Are there parts of your personal work that can be automated or templated to save you time and energy? Don't think of automation as something that only serves customers; use it to help yourself, too.
The author also recommends continually building industry knowledge, which is especially applicable in our fast-changing world. Reserve time in your calendar to find a webinar, read an article, listen to podcasts, or check in on your professional Slack groups. It's also a great time to explore some new books or study for a certification exam that you've been putting off. Make a few goals to accomplish for the rest of the year. Here are some resources that can help:
HDI SupportWorld has new articles about industry developments and best practices every week. You'll enjoy recurring series like Jeff Rumburg's Metric of the Month, and other items on workforce management, technology, and customer experience.
SPOCcast, HDI's single point of contact podcast hosted by Roy Atkinson, is the leisurely way to stay in the know about all things ITSM. Every month, Roy interviews a different innovator in the IT service and support industry.
- If you're looking to connect with more industry professionals and authors, check out HDI's list of the Top 25 Thought Leaders of 2020. Follow them on Twitter, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Many maintain their own blogs including, Joe the IT Guy, Doug Tedder, and Greg Sanker.
Finally, Reshwan also recommends taking the time to identify and strengthen your core competencies. If you're having trouble figuring out what these are, ask a trusted mentor or colleague to help you with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Andrew Gilliam is a passionate customer experience innovator and change agent, with a background in IT support and customer service. As one of HDI's in-house subject matter experts, he writes and speaks about service management, technical support, and contact center trends and best practices. Andrew was among ICMI's 2019 Movers & Shakers and Top 50 Thought Leaders for multiple years, and he maintains several HDI and CompTIA certifications, including CASP+. Follow @ndytg on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, and discover more at andytg.com.