Job security is one of our primary concerns. We everyday we live with the question of whether or not we will be working the next day. Loyalty is not the important factor that once it was. Previously “last in”s were “first out”s but today it is in most cases the opposite; “first in”s are “first out”s. So are we completely powerless? Isn’t there anything that we can do?
Let’s start with ourselves first. As IT pros, we have to grow, to stay ahead of the curve no matter what. Not learning about the latest trends, latest security issues, hot discussions means that we are falling behind the curve. We all know that this means the road to irrelevancy and the door to unemployment. We can take online courses, get certified, follow RSS/Atom feeds, follow podcasts and the like. But whatever we do, we cannot afford to fall behind. One word from me: follow consumer tech very closely.
Then, we need to improve our people skills. I have discussed this issue so many times in separate posts that I will not go into the details once more. We have to be an excellent support engineer, we have to be as close to the business as we can get and we have to form strong relationships with our end users. You may not realize it now but there will be serious impact of computerization (or “robot invasion” if you will) and containerization in the near future to many IT roles. The ultimate way to avoid this is to form strong relations with the people. Don’t be the know-it-all person. If you are, make sure you play nicely and do not show this at the expense of others.
We also need to get back to the basics. For an eternity you may be managing lots of servers and think that you don’t need the skills you once had: cable routing, desktop administration, application management, IP subnetting, ethernet cable making etc. Once we moved to high-level skills (server deployment, infrastructure monitoring etc.) we inevitably moved far away from our users. It is now the time to get close to them and make them understand we know everything inside out – from managing hundreds of servers to solving printing problems. This may sound mediocre but we need to show people that we are solving problems at every level.
Once we touch our users, we know more about what is happening in the company and what issues our users are facing. And since we already know the IT infrastructure, we are in much better position to improve our users and help our company get better investment on technology. The times that we use one thing for one purpose is over – remember that we used mobile phones for talking and messaging, mp3 players for listening to music and agendas for managing our lives. Now we use our mobile phones for almost everything. We have to show users that they can sync their calendars and tasks to their devices, that they can use tablets for more productivity and that they can use their smart technologies to get more work done. We need to be inventive, creative and solve problems that people did not know that existed.
At this stage we become unstoppable. Getting more done with the same investment, unseen problems solved and knowing everything about the business, we can now speak our minds freely when the time comes. For years we had ideas that can grow the business and move it forward. And we kept these ideas to ourselves, maybe refined them over time. Now might be the perfect time to voice these ideas and show how they contribute to the business. Of course there are three possibilities: your ideas might not be taken at all, they may be transformed (may be embedded in a different project) or who knows, may just be the innovation that can save the company. Even in the worst case scenario you are one step ahead – you are thinking about what to do and contributing, rather than being a “couch potato.”
We, people, tend to fall into the trap that our ideas are so valuable, so true, so right to the point that they have to be implemented as they are and right away. Although we know that the world does not work this way, we sometimes cannot control how we behave and become demanding. There is a fine line between making a reasonable request, showing the reasons and the benefits of implementing it and making a demand. The latter makes people very uneasy and makes us look like an annoying person. The former makes us a logical person who offers his/her ideas.
The same goes for asking things. We may need something to do our job better, improve things, or something that may help us in our personal life. No matter what, we have to voice it. But we need to ask for things seldom and “ask for” them, not “demand” or “require” them.
And finally, we need to love our work. If we love what we do, it reflects on the results. In order to have very nice results and bear the difficulties of our jobs, we have to love or jobs. Otherwise it will be harder for us everyday to cope with the various types of stresses and challenges IT brings. When the guillotine falls, it will no doubt fall on the people that mumble about their jobs. Don’t forget that what Confucius said holds true: if we do what you love, we’ll never work a day in your life. If you don’t love your job, find the one you do.
These are my suggestions to help you keep your paycheck. Sometimes there are the situations where you cannot do anything and there is no security to be had. What I have gone through my post is all about doing everything you can and increase your chances of keeping your job, saving you from the next round of layoffs.
What do you do to keep your job? Help us with your ideas below to keep our current jobs.
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