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The Great Stay Put

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Article from ADMIN 70/2022
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The IT field is either feast or famine, depending on your perspective, but one thing is certain: No matter where you decide to land, you always have value.

A few months ago, I wrote this column describing "The Great Resignation." Now, I think I must write this one as "The Great Stay Put," because things have changed so rapidly since then. I had real wide-eyed optimism about the IT job market, but all that has changed. Now, just as was seen in the early 2000s, you might be lucky to have a job in six months. I hope that's not the case, but you need to prepare yourself. One way to prepare is to change to a safer position, and by "safer," I mean one that is essential to business operations. The other way is to stay where you are and ride this thing out.

There's no way to predict accurately what's going to happen six months from now, but that doesn't mean you have to sit around and just wait for it to happen to you. You can act now to be sure that you decrease any negative effect from a downturn in the economy.

Whether you decide to stay or leave your current job, you must position yourself to show that your presence is important to the ongoing health of the business. The best way to do this is to examine the business, its strengths, its weaknesses, its assets, and its value to customers. You must find ways to improve production, cut costs, increase revenue, and resonate better with your customer base. What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Are you leaving money on the table by not cross-selling, upselling, or enhancing the customer experience with better service and new or upgraded products?

You must find some way to contribute in a more meaningful way to help solidify your stake in the company's success. I guess that's a fancy way of saying that you need to participate actively in increasing your company's bottom line.

Be aware that not every idea is going to be great. It's likely that your management will reject most of your ideas. Don't allow rejection to discourage you. Brainstorming is how people discover great things, so keep at it. Also, remember that everything works on paper. I've had some incredible ideas that worked perfectly well on paper, but two minutes in front of someone else's eyes yielded a disappointing, "Yeah, but what about X?" Too often my response was, "I hadn't thought of that. I guess I need to examine this more carefully." Thomas Edison didn't create the light bulb on his first try, and the Wright brothers flew more than 1,000 glider test flights before putting engines on their first powered airplane.

One of the things you must do is write down your ideas as you think of them. Write each new idea at the top of a page. This way you can expand on your idea, list the pros and cons, and write out how you can implement or deploy your plan as you develop it. Don't be afraid to list crazy things in your notebook. No one else ever needs to see it. Present your best ideas to your manager, showing that you have considered the idea from different perspectives. Create a presentation along with your idea to show that you have presentation skills and that you're really putting some effort into these new ideas, whose goal is to help the company. You and your manager will both appreciate your ideas and analyses, even if they're rejected.

As a real-world example, I had a former co-worker who went through this exact process, made his presentation, and not only gained acceptance for his idea but was promoted to my manager's manager in the process, where he implemented his plan. I give him props for doing this, although it ultimately led to my leaving the company because of our difference of opinion on our team's goals and direction. However, the experience taught me something valuable: Present your ideas in an organized, determined manner and see what happens. Sometimes it works out.

I hope that if you decide to stay with your current company, you take some of the advice I've given to help you remain gainfully employed. You'll no doubt see layoffs and voluntary attrition in the process, but in the end, sometimes staying the course where you are is the right thing to do.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor

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