Decisions and Dilemmas
May 8, 2009
During the 1986 baseball season, the New York Mets were getting ready for the World Series. During the season, their four starting pitchers Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and Bobby Ojeda were all pitching well. Since the World Series schedule (back then) only required three starting pitchers, a reporter stated to Mets manager Davey Johnson, “You have a dilemma on your hands, you have too many starting pitchers. ” Johnson responded, “You are incorrect. A dilemma is when you do not have enough starting pitchers. I have a decision to make.”
In speaking with a candidate the other day, he told me that he had a dilemma on his hands, he had two job offers that he was considering, both were compelling and he did not know which one to choose. At that time, I remembered the Johnson quotation, and explained to him that he was fortunate to have two opportunities and he had to make a decision regarding his immediate future.
Due to the shortage and need for Information Security professionals, we, as an industry, have been fortunate enough to be faced with more “decisions” than “dilemmas.” When you are currently employed or engaged, you always have a decision. You can evaluate if the new opportunity is better suited for your career than your current one. In many cases, even when in transition, Information Security professionals could choose between a number of career choices, and had to make “decisions” regarding a variety of options and environments.
Today, the market is a bit different. Sure, there is still a shortage of talent and we are in better shape then most other professions, but I am surprised to see how many quality Information Security professionals, have found themselves in “career dilemmas.” Many of these talented professionals, some whom I have known for over a decade, have traditionally been highly sought after and have impressive credentials. Unfortunately, many have not planned accordingly or developed “career contingency” plans.
The problem they are facing is that their qualifications and their salaries have put them in a place where their job searches are going to take a good bit of time. However their financial situations do not afford them the luxury for waiting out a lengthy job search process, and they need to find a steady paycheck. This is definitely a “dilemma.”
Here are three pieces of advice that I traditionally give to them:
1) Leverage your network to find contract work so that you can relieve yourself of immediate financial pressure.
2) Position your resume, so that you can demonstrate your most marketable skills that solve pressing information security issues.
3) If you are forced to find a full time job immediately, define the “lowest common denominator” for your career. By that I mean, to figure out the lowest level position and salary that you are willing to accept, as you try to find employment quickly.
There is no substitute for proper long term career planning, it is truly the only way to avoid a career “dilemma”. We never know what the future will bring.