Career Advice Tueday – “My Career is on a Treadmill”

October 13, 2009

Dear Mike and Lee:

I have recently found myself looking back at my career and find myself to be dissatisfied with the way that things have been turning out.  I have 15 years of overall IT experience, and have been with my current employer for about 7 years.   Although the pay has been good, I feel that my advancement and professional development has stalled.  I believe that there are some opportunities within my current company that would enable me to build the information security skills that I am seeking to develop, but because I am doing a “good job” in my current role, my manager is reluctant to let me pursue these other opportunities.

I like my company, and do not want to jeopardize my employment in this economy, but I fear that my window of opportunity for advancement is quickly closing an my skills are growing stale, and I am basically running in place.   

Can you provide me with some guidance on how to better my situation?


“Stuck on the Treadmill”

Dear “Stuck on the Treadmill,”

Before we answer your question, I want to bring to light the importance of development of a written career plan.  Your personal situation is not unlike many others, who settle into a comfort zone, excel at their position, and become a victim of your own success.   The development of a career plan, that will map out skill and professional milestones, and intermediate  steps for overall goal attainment is critical to preventing the situation that you currently find yourself in. 

All that being said, all is not lost.  The fact that you have recognized this at the midpoint of your career is a step in the right direction.  Here is some guidance for your current situation:

First, I would try to figure out what you would believe would be the next step in your career and the right opportunity for you at this time.  When determining this, I would keep in mind the information security skills that you could best leverage from your current role, to attain this next position. 

After you determine this next position, I would attempt to see if there was an internal opportunity at your current employer that would enable you to accomplish your goals.  If these opportunities do exist, I would sit down with your manager and have a candid discussion with them.  (For your own protection this meeting should be documented.)  

This discussion should include both your appreciation for your current opportunity and your desire to remain with the company.  You should also express your interest in career growth.  At the conclusion of this meeting, I would ask for their permission to pursue these opportunities – while providing them with assurance that, if selected for this role, you will not leave them in a bind. 

I would hope that at the conclusion of the meeting, they will give you their blessing to pursue these opportunities.  In the event that they do not, I would immediately (possibly concurrently)  set up a meeting with your human resources team, make them aware of the situation, and ask them the proper internal process to apply for this role.  Keep in mind, if you have to go down this path, your manager will most likely will not be happy, and could possible hold this against you. (You should understand that this is possibly risky- and you should weigh the consequences before going through with this.)

Simultaneously, I would begin an external search process, and prepare a resume that would be targeted at the role that you would like to pursue.  I would seek out opportunities that fit the description of the information security role that would enable you to move your career on your desired path. Undertaking an external job search, may shed some light on your current skills and the value that you could bring to an external entity.   Independent of the result, you should come away with a better benchmark on your marketability and qualifications for this type of role. 

Hopefully, this advice will get you off the “treadmill” and lead you “off and running” in the direction of your desired career goal.

Hope this help,

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 


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