You will work for 40+ years on average, so if you’re bored or unhappy with what you do (especially in the IT sector), it’s important to understand that there’s no need to keep on doing the same thing. However, that doesn’t mean that you should hop between jobs frequently, which may not impress prospective employers, and we’re not suggesting you quit your job, as for most of us this just isn’t viable.
However, there is still hope. We’re living in an age where it is OK to have multiple careers, and where we have greater access to multiple career paths than ever before. We’ve seen many people make tweaks to their career path by making the right moves at the right time, and putting themselves on the path to their dream job.
Where Are You and What You Can Change?
The first thing to do is to look at where you are in your career. As a graduate or junior, you may need a few years doing something that doesn’t thrill you in order to gain experience and networks within the industry. However, on the flip side, this could also be the best time to find a job you love while you have the lowest levels of financial commitment. Some find it more difficult to transition later in their career because of having pigeonholed themselves into a specific role, and having a greater number of life responsibilities to attend to meaning that it’s more difficult to take a risk if one presents itself.
On the other hand, having more experience and a bigger network behind you in your chosen field can also be a benefit; a lot of it will depend on what you’re looking for in a role. All in all, there will always be pros and cons to making a change. Sometimes you just have to get on with it!
There’s also the matter of what you can do in your current role. For example, if some aspects of your job aren’t making you happy, try to address them. There may well be opportunities to progress into your dream role within the company that you’re already in that you’re unaware of. Talk to HR or colleagues that might have knowledge or influence on this area. Expressing an interest is the first step to hearing about a good opportunity coming up, and it always pays to investigate possible internal openings before casting your eye elsewhere.
If this proves to be impossible, then it’s probably time to start thinking about making a change. Try to position yourself to work on or around something that you are interested in, or that makes you curious.
Build Your Profile
Finding the job you want is going to take time. It’s very rare that your dream job just pops up on a job board at the perfect time, so instead of handing in your resignation and putting yourself on the market, take steps to help that dream job come to you.
Naturally, the first thing to do here is to look at how you can upskill. Think about where you want to end up, the steps you need to take to get there, and what skills you need in these roles. You could enrol at a polytechnic or university, but this is time-consuming and impractical for many of us. Taking online courses part-time in various disciplines (e.g. AdWords, web design, animation, programming etc.) is a great way to expand your skillset. In the Tech sector especially, there are many different options if you want to sharpen your technical skills. The likes of Udemy, Lynda, Coursera or Skillshare, are great places to start.
It’s not just technical skills that you can improve either. If leadership qualities are what you are lacking, then there are a variety of courses and programmes that can help with this too. Alternatively, you can look into taking up a leadership role within an organisation as a volunteer, which help you to gain some on-the-job leadership experience as well as expanding your network (more on that later!).
You can also ask your current employer about training opportunities, study leave options and whether they offer any financial support for further job-related learning. Even if there is limited or no help available, your interest in improving yourself is likely to be noted, which could work to your advantage and improve your profile internally.
Look for Alternative Routes Into Your Ideal Role
Networking opens up all sorts of doors, and can lead to opportunities that could develop if the right person is known and available. With a multitude of industry conferences and informal MeetUp groups happening all over Auckland, there are so many opportunities to meet people who can help you take the next step in your career. Even something as simple as asking people how they moved into a role you’d like can give you ideas on how to do the same. It also enables you to learn more about the people and organisations out there in our industry, which can help you to build a shortlist of places you might want to work for.
Sometimes taking a more direct approach can be beneficial too. For example, if you’ve found a start-up specialising in your area of interest, and you feel that your experience and expertise could be useful, you can leverage the relationships you have built to get yourself an interview. Start-ups are often more open to people coming from another specialist area, and while your role might be broader to make up for a lower number of staff (and it might come with a pay cut), you’ll at least be on the right track to getting where you want to go.
Another option is freelancing. The Auckland freelancing market is bigger than ever, so becoming a contractor or consultant (potentially even in addition to your full-time role) is a great way to do what you want to do without sacrificing your current income – though this does require a certain level of experience and credibility. Alternatively, you can move into a contract role doing your current job and use the greater flexibility you have to work towards the job you want.
Finally, there’s no shame in seeking professional help if you’re not sure where to start. Career counsellors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as well as the ideal roles and the right company culture for you to keep growing. Recruitment agencies can also give a great deal of insight, and being frank with your agency representative on what you’d enjoy doing can help increase your chances of finding your dream role.
If reading all of this is giving you job envy, feel free to get in touch with the team at RWA to find out more about the great opportunities available in the Auckland IT market.