The U.S. faces a lack of tech workers, with 3 million STEM jobs unfilled in 2016. The shortage of skilled employees favors IT workers, who can quickly find another job that makes use of their skills. If you work in IT, you don’t need to settle for a job you don’t love. Learn the top warning signs that it could be time to look for a new job in IT, then make your move.
When the employer-employee fit is right, your employers rely on you for a specialized skill set, whether it’s database management or cyber security. You get to spend all day doing what you love, and you have high job satisfaction overall.
When this balance shifts and your employers no longer want or need your strengths, it can become uncomfortable. You may feel like you aren’t valued on the job, or you may be asked to set aside the things you enjoy to work on new tasks. At best, these tasks may be unfamiliar to you — so you’ll need to learn on the job. At worst, the new job duties will be boring — which can negatively affect your morale.
Once you notice that there’s a mismatch between your skills and your employer’s needs, it’s time to think about moving on.
All Stick, No Carrot
While the carrot and stick metaphor is often used in global politics, it also reflects the workplace. Your employer can incentivize performance either through rewards (e.g. carrots) or through punishment (e.g. sticks). While punishment may be necessary — for instance, long nights at work before a big deadline — It’s more pleasant to be in a workplace that offers more carrots than sticks.
If leadership changes at your workplace turn the tide toward all stick, no carrot, employee morale can suffer and the job you enjoyed soon becomes drudgery. Once the style of motivation shifts or when the stick keeps getting longer, start a job search to protect your mental health.
Lack of Vision or Unclear Goals
If your employer’s goals are overly ambitious or their vision for IT is unclear, consider starting a job search. It’s frustrating to work for someone who lacks a clear vision or goals regarding technology.
One telltale sign of an employer without strong vision is when you keep hearing promises — say, of updating technology — but there’s never follow-through. A committed employer should identify priorities and follow through on their word.
Employers who do not have attainable goals around technology often dream big, but lack an understanding of the work it takes to implement change. This employer might suggest something like switching over to Blockchain in a six month period — something you know is unobtainable, but they think is realistic.
Unrealistic expectations can lead to pressure on employees to perform work that simply is not feasible. It’s best to get out of the workplace before this happens, so initiate a job search quickly.
You No Longer Feel Comfortable at Work
When there’s a good fit between you and your job, you feel satisfied after a long day at work, not drained. You may look forward to the weekend, but you don’t dread Monday morning. You plow through the duties assigned to you without needing to take constant breaks on social media. When you no longer enjoy work, you need to take frequent breaks to stave off boredom, or you’re counting down to Friday evening, you have outgrown your position and should look for a new one.
The same rule applies if you no longer fit in at work. Perhaps your employer worships at the altar of youth to the point where all the new hires are in their twenties — and you’re mid-thirties. Perhaps the workplace is moving in a different direction and you are spending more time on things you don’t enjoy. If you don’t feel comfortable or enjoy going to work, start looking for a job you would enjoy.
You’re Making Do With Old Technology
Many mature companies are working on technology that’s outdated because replacing everything is cost-prohibitive or it’s not a priority. While it’s alright to spend some time with older code — and it can feel good to be the hero by fixing DCOM issues now and then — it shouldn’t take up the majority of your time. Before your skills get out of date, look for a job where you can work with current technology rather than legacy systems.
Your Salary is Too Low
The average salary for computer programmers is $79,840 and the average salary for systems administrators is $79,700. Information security analysts earn $92,600 and software developers earn $102,280 on average. If your salary is below the average and your employer isn’t discussing pay parity, it’s time to search for a new job where your skills are valued with fair pay. Tech skills are in demand, and you’ll find plenty of employers who are willing to compete on salaries.
Tech employees are in demand as long as there is a gap between the number of skilled workers and the amount of STEM jobs. You do not need to settle for a job. Identify what you like about your workplace and what isn’t meeting your needs, then look for a job that offers more of what you want and rewards your skills.
Decide Consulting is a software and IT Staffing firm based in Houston, TX. Founded by veteran software consultants, Decide has developed proprietary methods for finding problem-solving IT personnel. Our Software products focus on the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) and Healthcare markets.