Career Management Lite

I’ve just started a new job and I’ve hit upon a method of managing how I feel about the role, evealuating when it’s going well and judging when it’s time to leave and look for something new. I’ll present my method here.

It’s a commonplace that there is no longer any such thing as a job for life. In the IT industry, in which I work, it’s a common joke that a permanent job is nothing more than a two-year contract. But how can you objectively measure how well the position is going – other than “it just feels right”? How do you know when it’s time to make a break and look for something new.

At my new job, I’m in the process of coming to terms with the realities of the position versus the position as it was sold to me in the recruitment process. There’s always a difference between the two and, in this case, while the degree of difference may not be large, it may be significant. So, here’s what to do:

  1. Create an Objectives Statement: Remember what it was that attracted you to the position in the first place? Write it down. If the job reality does not meet what you expected or were lead to believes et some time frames. Part of your role now becomes bringing those items into existence. Don’t forget the social environment as well.
  2. Work Out the Get-Out-Quick Triggers: These are the deal breakers. If the new role trips one of these triggers it’s time to polish the resume and begin job hunting.
  3. Review Regularly: Once the statement has been written, check it occasionally to evaluate whether the statements you made under points 1) and 2) still apply, are being met or have proven unachievable. This is the key to the process. If you are making progress towards your position goals, great. If not, start considering your options. You may decide to change the goals or you may decide to move on.
  4. Talk to Your Manager: This is the tough part. At worst, you can use your position objectives to explain why you’re resigning: “I took this job because of A, B and C. These are unachievable. Therefore, I quit.” Alternatively, you can use your position objectives to feed into reforms in the work place, your training plan and other programs.

An Example in Action

My new role was sold to me a providing much needed NetApp SAN and ESX virtualisation experience to a project team setting corporate IT standards. The reality is that the company is a merge of three smaller companies and is undergoing massive social and technological change. Both NetApp devices are the ESX infrastructure are in their infancy here. NetApp in particular is still at the project stage. While all of this was communicated during the recruitment process, the spin placed on it by the company representative reflects more of an end goal rather than the current state.

So, here’s my position objectives on starting the new role:

Desired Environment (6-12 Months)

  • NetApp as core infrastructure within 6-12 months
  • vSphere 4 as core infrastructure within 6-12 months
  • Improved fitness from walking hills and stairs

The following depend on how the split between Projects and Operations will be managed in the future.

  • Me as primary manager/architect of NetApp infrastructure within 12 months
  • Me as primary manager/architect of ESX infrastructure within 12 months

Desired Achievements (6-12 Months)

  • HP-EVA converted to NetApp (native or v-series)
  • Filesharing moved to NetApp CIFS
  • All ESX upgraded to vSphere 4
  • Implemented ESX clustering on all ESX farms
  • Significant increase in server and storage virtualisation

Get-Out-Quick Triggers (Anytime)

  • No real progress on reform projects
  • No improvements in morale or team cohesiveness
  • No NetApp purchase within 6 months (major purchase within 12 months)