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20 ways to kill your IT career (without knowing it)

Paul Heltzel | Dec. 5, 2017
In the fast-paced world of technology, complacency can be a career killer. So too can any number of hidden hazards that quietly put your career on shaky ground — from not knowing your true worth to thinking you’ve finally made it.

“The opportunity to supervise three new technologists and guide their careers is an opportunity that doesn’t come in other fields for years,” Cooper says. “And if learning a new language is valuable, imagine how valuable learning team leadership is. His grip on the technology-skills rudder was so tight that he didn’t recognize the awesome power of the leadership wind that was ready to blow his career in a whole new, even more valuable direction.”

Eventually, says Cooper, he saw the benefits of changing direction: “He’s now a 23-year-old technology team leader on a major software development initiative.”

 

Skipping social events

The after-work happy hour or office celebration may not be where you shine. But as your career matures, you may need to make the rounds at least once in a while.

“Not everyone loves office social gatherings, and that's fine,” says Venkatesh, “but the higher up the professional ladder you go, the more you'll be expected to at least make an appearance at some. In many companies, habitually skipping these events can signal that you're not interested in building relationships with colleagues, and can even damage your career.”

There may also be hidden benefits to hanging out with peers. “Business is a team sport,” says Mike Grandinetti, CMO and CSO of IT data management company Reduxio. “Being part of a valued, trusted network of like-minded, talented professionals is the best way to get access to new professional opportunities.”

 

Aiming low

Here’s another networking pro tip: If you're meeting up only with peers and all your relationships are lateral ones, you may not be getting as much benefit as you think. An IT career benefits from a mix of peers and mentors.

“Having consistent communication, as well as sharing and listening to others’ experiences is essential,” Venkatesh says. “Another mistake that’s less obvious is not networking with the right group of professionals. It’s important to network with people who have experience in your area of interest, and professionals who hold more senior positions, so they can offer career advice or coaching.”

 

Shortchanging your compensation

When job hunting, some IT pros miss out on the value of benefits when considering the overall compensation. Consider perks like commute and equipment assistance, free dinners or a food budget, according to Excella’s Cooper.

“Many employees neglect to monetize the benefits, perks, and extras that their employers give,” Cooper says. “These can add up to $5-10k per year, and yet employees still consider offers from companies without these items because they’re being promised $3k extra in salary.”

 

Not knowing your worth

Have you been in your IT job for more than five years? If so, you’re probably not getting the compensation you deserve, says David Collins, an IT branch manager at staffing firm the Addison Group.

 

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