Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

Simply Right

April 2, 2004

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Despite the complexity of high-tech hardware, software and systems, it is often the simplest issues that cause the most problems. This is true whether you are troubleshooting a computer or trying to figure out what to do with your high-tech career. Too often, complex ideas and systems can divert us when most problems call for a little simple thinking. Before you start tearing things apart, you need to ask a few simple questions.

Throw it out?

Sometimes when we are confronted with career issues, we can leap to the most drastic response, like throwing out a troublesome computer and buying a new one. A job isn’t working out, so you quit and find another job. Unfortunately, this job is often no better than the one you left. I have done this myself and seen countless friends and acquaintances do the same. It seems to be a part of human nature. Instead of “jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire”, as the cliché goes, I would recommend a few moments of thought about the simplest way you can solve your work problems.
Let’s start at simplest level first. What is the problem? Why are you having trouble? What exactly do you dislike about your job or even your career? Are you facing a simple personality conflict with a co-worker or are you questioning your entire career choice? If you are having trouble with a particular person, could you try and find a different position in your company in order to limit your contact with a co-worker? Do you really need to leave the company to gain relief? I would guess that in a majority of cases, an employer would rather find a new place for you, and retain your skills, rather than trying to find someone else to do your job.

Bigger questions, smaller answers

If you are questioning your entire career choice, you might think that bigger, more complicated solutions are necessary. In fact, there are often simpler answers available, if you start your search there. While it can be difficult to change people’s perception of you, I have seen many people move from a high-tech career to another career and vice versa. There were accountants that discovered a knack for computers and network managers who found that project management better suited their skills and desires. I even know a former computer technician who recently turned himself into an archivalist.

The first place to look for a new career is probably right inside the company you are working for today. Start to investigate other departments in your company, talk to people in those departments. When you find something interesting, schedule a meeting with the manager and discuss your desires. It is a simple truth that people love to be asked for advice. Most managers will take the time to talk to you about what it means to do “X” job and the career possibilities involved. While you will probably want to look outside your company as well, inside is often the best place to start your search.

The most important part of looking for a new job or career is to not let fear, anger or fatigue drive your search. It is always better to take some time to get your emotions under control. These emotions are often what cause us to make bad decisions at a time when they can do the most damage. Looking for the simplest solutions first can help you to reign in your emotions and keep a clear head about what you want, and need, out of your career.

Making decisions about your work and career need not involve a host of advisors, books, web sites and therapists. You are the best source for new ideas about your career, as you are the only person who truly understands what you want. Instead of looking for the most drastic change possible, although that is sometimes the best choice, I would advise you to first look to the simple things that you can change. You may find that your next great job or career is only a few steps away from where you are right now. Sometimes we have to focus on what is in front of us in order to find the path that will lead us into the future.


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