Career Advice Tuesday- When The Economy Negatively Impacts Your “Good Job”

July 21, 2009

Dear Lee and Mike:

The ongoing hardships caused by this lovely economy have now really
started to impact our company culture.  Things are now quite strained.
 We’re not getting any raises, no empty positions are being filled,
everyone’s doing extra work, training budget has been killed off.  In
short, it’s getting fairly grim.

In spite of it all, I’d honestly like to stay at this job.  I
strongly believe in our mission, and I’m friends with most of the
coworkers, but things are souring… what can I do to re-sweeten
things?  Or am I simply holding onto past glories?

Signed,   Conflicted


Dear Conflicted:

Let me start by saying that you are not alone.  Many of your peers are experiencing some of the same things due to economic issues.  The loss of corporate revenue has negatively impacted training budgets, technology advancements, raises, and bonuses across the board.   Unfortunately, as professionals we have grown a bit accustomed to the perks  attached to our position.  When employers begin to tighten the purse strings are we are asked to share in the burden, it becomes a bit uncomfortable.

From what you have described it appears that you particularly have a couple of good things going for you:

1) Although you are currently experiencing some short term discomfort, it appears that your company has a track record in the past for “doing the right thing” by making solid investments in the Information Security program and the staff. 

2) It also  appears that some of the core values that relate to your situation remain intact.  You believe in what the company is doing, you have solid peer relationships, and my guess is that  you are well thought of, and your opinions are well respected.   All of these things are positive. 

My advice to you (and your peers) is to give your current employer the benefit of the doubt, in the near term, and utilize this as an opportunity to attempt to creatively solve your problems and build your personal brand. 

Here are a couple of examples :

When a department is understaffed, and are not adding new personnel, there is usually an opportunity for work that is outside of your traditional comfort zone. Try to volunteer for some of this newer work, so that you can develop a new skill or perfect an existing one.  If you can utilize this opportunity to build more skills, your future value and marketability will increase, whether you choose to remain at your current employer or move on. 

Regarding training, I believe this is when you need to utilize your creativity to continue receiving training but at a lesser cost.   This is the time that you can get together with your team and figure out some solutions and present them together to management.  Remember, there is always strength in numbers, and you may achieve a greater impact if you address this with your manager in collective fashion. 

Here are some suggestions that may provide a  lower cost option to training:

1) Build an Info Sec Library – Ask your employer if they will reimburse the purchase of information security related books, that can be kept as a corporate reference guide.

2) Volume Discounts – Call up some of the traditional training programs and conferences and ask for volume discounts.  These folks are in business too, and they may be flexible.  They are facing some of the same economic issues.

3) Invite Guest Speakers  – Many people in Information Security like to share their knowledge.  Create a guest speaker program where you can bring in an external speaker (you may have to cover some travel expense and meal) once a month, to address a specific topic. 

Unfortunately, I do not have any solutions for bonuses or raises.  If money is the main motivator, you may be forced to begin looking for a new role.

In closing, I believe that you will benefit for exhibiting  a little bit of patience with your current employer.  However, if things do not change in three – six months, and you are still having the same feelings, you may have to begin looking elsewhere.

Hope this helps.

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday, Planning, Security Industry, Uncategorized 


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