Looking for New Challenges Along All Coordinates

I’ve been working on a presentation for the region SWE conference on Career Management in Difficult Economic Circumstances.  One of the topic areas is around what to do when you feel bored and stuck in your job.  With the lack of promotions in the corporate world lately, and people afraid to get new jobs themselves or even retire, there are not nearly the number of “higher” positions available.

Sometimes, though you look up at your manager and your manager’s manager and think, I don’t want that job.  Either way, the question is, what do you do?

Well, you look to the side and you even look down.  I’ve made a few lateral transitions.  One of my transitions was continuing to do project management, just on a different product in a whole new business group.  I was able to use my same set of project management skills, but expand on a whole new set of technical skills.  I also got to work with new people in a new environment.  It kept me challenged and happy.

I have not personally moved down the hierarchy to find a new challenge, but I know a few people that have.  They said initially accepting the fact that they were going to be “a low run in the ladder” again was tough.  After a year, and a steep learning curve, they were each back at or above the level they were when they moved down.  Not too bad.

When you reach that stuck spot, I think there are 5 options for you:

  1. Move up (if available…though I’ve found this one can be tough as the number of openings is always smaller than where you are)
  2. Move laterally (best if you can use some skills you’ve mastered and build new ones)
  3. Move down (best for moving to entirely new area,and typically ends up with you moving up again after a year or so)
  4. Stay where you are (and convince your manager to give you some different things to work on- requires a manager who will help you out)
  5. Move out (sometimes the only option to stay happy really is to leave the company)

The key to any of the moves above is make sure you know what will make you happy and make the company money.  You need to figure out the intersection of your passions, your skills, and the business need.  When you can do that, you’ve got a nice template for the job to go after.

For me, that intersection has been project management.  I didn’t reach the conclusion on my own- I needed the help and advice of some mentors to help me see the intersection.  It has served me well for the past few years.  As my skills grow and the business need changes, I’ll need to re-asses that intersection and see if it has changed.  I think I’m about a year away from needing another change.  Better start thinking about it…

One response to this post.

  1. Great post! Gave me some new ideas to think about.


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