For people in the IT industry who started their IT Career with technology, reaching the work experience range of 8-10 years is an important juncture.
At this stage, a decision has to be made.
The decision about whether you are interested to make a career in the management side, or you want to make Career progression on the technical side or you are looking for a techno-managerial role for the next phase of Career growth.
The reason for this juncture is the Organization’s needs and the Employee Career roadmap is aligned to these needs.
Typically, there are 4 paths available from this juncture
- Management/Delivery Roles – The organizations need people with technical experience to manage technical folks. So experienced people are moved into Management and Delivery Roles. The roles of Scrum Master, the Team lead, The project manager, The delivery manager fall in this space.
- Solution/System/Product Architect – There is also a need for senior technical experts to design the solutions, to architect the solutions. And so the Solution Architect/Solution designer role is also available at this stage. But the Solution design is a specialized area and one needs a different mental makeup to be in this space. Also, Solution designers are not needed in mass.
- Pre-sales – During the sales process, there is a need for a technical expert to assesses the fitment of Customer requirements and the product/solution capabilities. And so, pre-sales is a techno-managerial role available at this stage.
- Product Management roles – This role is applicable only in the product organizations. The purpose of this role is to ensure Product-market fit i.e there are customers ready to buy the product/service that is being developed. And various tools and techniques are used to achieve product-market fit.
So, how do you decide what path to choose?
The decision should be logical. To make the decision, your current strengths should be considered. The job market headwinds should be taken into account. Attention should be paid to your competition. Isn’t it.
The time-tested approach I recommend to make this decision is the SWOT analysis approach.
Let us see how SWOT Analysis can help us manage the mid-career crisis and enjoy Career growth…
Distill the work you have done till now and bring out your strengths.
Look at the toughest moments of your Career and how you sailed through them. Challenges are what brings the best out of us, the best that’s buried deep down. So go down the memory lane and dig out the challenges and the solution/approach you took to get out of them. They are your core strengths and skills. We are looking for them in this exercise.
List down your strengths. The strengths should be single words. They shouldn’t be long sentences.
As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here will not get you there”.
In the next phase of your Career Journey, you would want to leverage your existing strengths, acquire new strengths, and grab the opportunity while tackling the threats. Isn’t it?
Strengths and weaknesses are the 2 sides of the same coin. So when you are doing the exercise of figuring out your strengths, the weaknesses are peeping around. Grab them and list them.
To move to the next phase of Career growth, you would want to transform your weaknesses into strengths. This transformation is often easier than developing new strengths.
- Short term: In short terms, the opportunities are the immediate job opportunities available in the market. The Job portals are your best bet. Look for jobs aligned to your experience and see what skills are they looking for. If there is a skill gap, you have your task cut out to reskill/upskills and fulfill the skills gap.
- Future: Our world is constantly evolving and so we cannot afford to prepare ourselves only looking at the short term opportunities. To prepare for the future, you should read market reports, trends, and discover the new jobs that are coming up. These are the areas you want to focus on and make them your strengths.
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- Technology: Is your job or some part of the job being( or will be) replaced by technology? The market study, office rumors, discussion with colleagues and some common sense can help you figure this out
- Not leveraging Strengths: If you are changing tracks and jumping in a new domain because your current domain or role is no longer required, you are probably in competition with folks less experienced then you. In this case, the skills are not the only deciding factor for the recruiter. Their salary, their family responsibilities, their need for work-life balance, etc can play a role in the job going to them. So you might not want to compete with them. You have the list of your strengths ready, so bring to play here. Show how your experience is still relevant to the job you are applying for.
By doing the SWOT analysis of your profile you will get a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. And when you know the Career paths available, you can figure which path is right for you. And now you are in a position to focus your time and energy to acquire the right skills that will strengthen your profile and make your future-ready.
Happy learning !!!