Develop Your Own Game Plan

The turbulent economy has hit IT professionals hard -- really hard. The Great Recession has impacted almost everyone in some manner, of course, but it really sucked the wind out of many organizations that are driven by IT.

Is it time to consider your options?

As a career and executive coach, here's my first piece of advice: If you haven't already taken some time to reassess your situation, get started. In the same way you consider your organization's business plan each year, you need assess your own career.

Start with an environmental audit. Using public records and a tool like Computerworld's 23rd annual Salary Survey, you can see what's happened to IT paychecks in the past 12 months. According to U.S. Department of Labor reports, across all industries, job vacancies remain limited. The average posting now attracts more than 40 applicants -- compared with an average of eight applicants just 16 months ago. And there's a consensus that the national rate of unemployment will remain in the range of 9% to 10% throughout 2010.

To safeguard your career, create a personal action plan that will provide you with insights, answers and action steps -- like a business plan for your life. Start with an objective review of your own core strengths and weaknesses. Next, define long-term goals for where you want to be 10 years from now, considering the three key aspects of your life: professional, personal and financial. Finally, develop a list of objectives and actions required for each goal in each category and -- this is important -- track your plan regularly, making ongoing updates to it. You should review your personal action plan and update it each year.

Based on our surveys, nearly all of the most successful individuals have such a plan. Yet despite its effectiveness, according to our research, only about 15% of the general population takes the time to create one.

With an action plan, an individual is more prepared to take advantage of new trends or react to unexpected downturns. Without one, an individual is at greater risk of being caught in market conditions or, perhaps worse, hoping that someone else will look after their career.

Take control of your destiny. Make the right career decisions for the long term -- before something beyond your control does it for you.

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of, an international consulting and coaching practice. He can be reached at

Next: IT pay stagnates, workforce grows restless

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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