Career Advice in a Bad Economy


The American economy is in a bad shape and has everyone on edge. During these bad times, however, IT professionals can make a few maneuvers to survive and even flourish during the downturn.

According to Michael Kirven, principal and co-founder of IT consulting and staffing company Bluewolf, "When IT is in the crosshairs, the tendency is for people to freeze up and hide out."

In an interview with InformationWeek, Kirven said that this isn’t the best strategy to advance one’s career during hard times. Here are some tips for IT professionals to survive and thrive in a bad economy.

Be proactive

Hiding in your cave won’t help. Be proactive. Seek cross-training in other skills and technologies. For example, if you’re an Oracle DBA expert, you could try getting SQL certification. If your employer doesn’t have the budget for training classes, you can volunteer to shadow a coworker who has the skills or is currently working with the technology. Another option is to go for affordable (many are free) online certification programs.

Have your thinking-cap worn around the office

Kiven advises, "Come up with a great idea to help your company’s sales team generate new sales." An IT developer from Bluewolf did just that recently. His sales-generation tool has been rolled out to Bluewolf’s offices across the country. This staffer wasn’t involved with sales and now, "the whole sales organization knows this guy by name," says Kiven. The key here is to step up for the company. Kiven adds, "Nine out of 10 ideas stink, but I’d rather get bad ideas than no ideas."

Break out of your cocoon

Breaking out of the techie cocoon relates to the first one about being proactive, but this tip takes things a little further. It suggests that you must venture away from your IT comfort zone a little more. You need to mingle with professionals from other business groups within the organization. Update yourself with the business initiatives that are under way. Consider whether you have some expertise or value to offer.

Channeling Debbie Downer won’t help

Don’t be like Debbie Downer, that Saturday Night Live character who persistently spoils every moment with negative feelings or bad news. According to Kiven, "No one wants to be around negative people. Don’t plop down in the chair and complain. Come up with solutions."

The suggestions above are definitely useful when the economy is thriving, but they’re more important when IT professionals are struggling to survive a bad economy. Overall, these tips suggest that you shouldn’t fly under the radar during a threat. Your goal is to shine.


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