High standards with attention to detail, a high capacity for problem-solving and innovative thinking, and a killer work ethic — recruiters and hiring managers look for all of these traits when seeking out the best technical hires. The industry is known for being extremely competitive, and it demands your constant best if you would like to remain employed.
This competition is fierce. The very qualities that make for great technical professionals such as engineers, software developers, financial analysts or project managers, unfortunately, become major sources of stress and resentment as they see others (who they feel are less deserving) being promoted or being given plum career opportunities. Unfortunately, hard work and excellent results do not always translate into career advancement, recognition, or a pay increase. While many professionals with tech careers believe their work should speak for itself, the realities are this: It’s not enough. As a result, many technical professionals end up feeling powerless over their careers. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take right now to reclaim your control over your destiny.
1 – Gain self-awareness with inner reflection.
When was the last time you were completely honest with yourself about your shortcomings and gave yourself the time and space to think about what you really want from your life and why you want it? The sooner you get clarity on this, the sooner you can start identifying the steps you need to take to actually get there.
Start with questions a bit smaller in scope before attempting to create a blueprint for your end goal. For example, what do you value? What energizes you? What are your greatest gifts? Likewise, be candid with yourself about your “dark” side. For example, what irritates you? What exhausts you? Where and when do breakdowns typically occur?
2 – Increase self-awareness through feedback.
Ask the people you interact with, whether at work or in your personal life, for feedback. How are you coming across? What do they see as your strengths? What can you improve upon?
Acknowledge the feedback you receive and be sure to thank people for their honesty. Then, consider what they say. How can you maximize your strengths? Are there common themes emerging about where you can improve? Having a grounded sense of your strengths and weaknesses can help you plan out your goals more effectively.
3 – Picture your ideal career situation, then develop an action plan to get there.
Visualizing your future as if you are already living it, just like successful athletes do, can be a powerful tool for propelling you forward in your tech career. Where do you want to end up? Knowing yourself, how can you reasonably get yourself there? Consider all of the resources you have available to you — people you know, potential mentors, local opportunities — and leverage them.
4 – Take action. Make your plan a reality.
Viewing the entire plan as a whole may seem daunting, so break the action plan down into smaller steps that are easier to process and execute. Remember, the goal here is to take back control of your destiny — not to lose yourself in the details. Stay positive and realistic; the road to your dream will not be perfect.
Avoid becoming stuck in analysis paralysis. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to become comfortable with the notion of taking “imperfect” action. If you’re at a standstill, what’s one step you can take that will get you closer to your goals and your vision?
Hungry for even more steps you can take to gain control of your career?
The Career Catapult course contains an action plan template that you get when you sign up. Just one of two dozen templates that you can access, you can use the action plan in conjunction with other worksheets to increase your self-awareness and create a picture of your ideal situation. Before you know it, your tech career will be taking off!