When skilled a technologist accepts a job offer, they generally have several expectations: interesting work, the opportunity for growth and achievement, and the likelihood of career advancement, but sometimes all of that promise is for naught. The coveted role you landed may have morphed into a dead end job.
A dead end job means different things to different people but there are subtle markers you should be attuned to, that could indicate your situation won’t right itself over time.
“Many IT professionals are frustrated when they land at an exciting company only to find a horribly outdated tech stack with no plans to update,” said Elizabeth Becker, a partner in the South Florida based IT staffing firm, PROTECH. “Although you may have opportunities to grow in the areas of salary and benefits, your skills will become less desirable in the industry.”
The cost could be high for those of you who choose to remain with an organisation with moribund infrastructure. If you have to re-enter the job market, your knowledge base remains dated.
Carolyn Stokes, founder of Forward, a technology executive search and coaching firm in Vancouver, Canada has observed that about half of the tech professionals she’s encountered will leave a dead end position because they want to stay competitive. “Some people have the learning capacity and want to evolve but that other 50 percent, who aren’t open to growth, lose out.”
No Professional Development
“When encouragement of learning is deprived at your work that’s when you know that there is no upward mobility,” said Tyler Riddell, director of marketing at eSUB, a Southern California software developer.
Riddell notes that typically, companies that invest a lot of time in training and support are the ones that encourage advancement. In fact, they count on your interest in evolving your skills because it adds value to their organisation.
“Dead-end companies tend to maintain a tight grip on their teams by not supporting any networking opportunities either,” added Becker. “Strong careers are like strong relationships: the other person is not afraid of you picking up new hobbies and meeting new people.”
Stokes suggests that technologists without training options should seek out new technologies that resonate with them. “I encourage people to take their education into their own hands by seeking out MOOC’s online,” she said. “If you have a genuine interest in something new, it can really jettison you and act as a natural progression into areas that you want to pursue.”
Companies put their trusted talent on strategic projects, so if you’re not being assigned to work on the platforms, products, services or systems being built to implement your company’s growth strategy, it’s an indication that you’re contributions aren’t valued.
“Being left out is a double dead end” said Becker, who advises that it not only impacts your performance at work, the situation will make it more difficult to find other employment. Technologists, who are denied access to the development of critical systems, are also denied the ability to promote those contributions on a CV or in an interview.
Your best course of action is to schedule a meeting with your director to find out why opportunities have not been forthcoming. While it could be a skill deficiency, and possibly correctable, less qualitative reasons like culture fit mean there’s no way forward.
Since your potential for growth is tied to decisions made at the top, subpar management can lead you to a dead end, even if the job doesn’t appear to.
It’s not uncommon for organizations to over promise and then under-deliver after you’re onboard. The job may not match its description for a variety of internal reasons but if there’s no glimmer of change on the horizon, it’s a management issue.
Occasionally, an employer has simply made an error in the selection process too, leading to poor fit and a limited future within the company.
Either way, the environment is not conducive to professional development.
Finding a Way Out
If you recognize that you’re performing a dead end job and want to change your circumstances, there’s no need to rush. A benefit of your position is that it’s not going anywhere. Take your time to update and upgrade your CV. Hone your skills, network, seek out career guidance if you need it, and move on.
This article originally appeared on Dice.com.