The tech industry job market is more volatile than ever before. IT skills shortages and the pandemic have increased demands on the sector’s workers, leaving many employees on the brink of burnout.
In fact, recent research states that just 24% of tech workers plan to stay in their current roles. Some will move laterally, but others will pursue jobs that are entirely new and may be deemed one-dimensional by prospective employers if their only experience is in an area such as programming. Similarly, decision-makers in the higher echelons of the business are doomed to fail if they focus on too narrow an area of the organisation. This shows the importance of tech workers taking steps to diversify their skill sets so they are not blinded by tunnel vision.
All should keep an open mind
Fledgling programmers may feel as if they can do the job forever, but this outlook is naive. The demanding nature of programming roles makes burnout a genuine possibility, and there will always be opportunities to develop further by moving into other roles in the business as they gain more experience. For these reasons, it is prudent to engage with the wider business in case the desire for change surfaces.
I spoke to Meital Raviv, D.CEO at Wallter, about this, and she said: “Entry-level and mid-level employees are not alone in being hindered by tunnel vision: if a company’s decision-makers get too caught up in the tech and neglect the demands of the market, the business is likely to fail.
“Therefore, employees from top to bottom at tech firms should always be open-minded about their role and their place in the wider industry. A passion for technology can take employees far, but it is well-rounded individuals that have the best chance of success.”
Know the market inside out
For tech leaders, a strong grasp of the business’s product and the tech that props it up is not enough to guarantee profitability. Of equal importance is understanding the needs of customers, stakeholders and the industry as a whole.
Raviv said: “There’s no point developing technology if there’s no demand for it. A developer may come up with an idea and spend time, money and energy creating the tech to make it a reality, but this is all a waste without first establishing that there is a market for the product.
“Here we see the importance of tech decision-makers doing their due diligence on the state of the market before rushing into the developmental process. Being blinded by shiny new tech could leave the final offering devoid of direction and useless to the end user.”
If a tech leader has a good understanding of market research principles and what it takes to launch a product, they can determine whether or not there is demand for a new idea. As a result, money invested in the development of the product will be far less likely to be misspent.
Diversify skills to reach the top
In recent years tech workers have struggled to rise through the ranks, with 41% of employees in the industry citing a lack of progression as the reason for considering leaving their role.
With promotions hard to come by, tech workers need to show they can bring a wide range of skills to the table, rather than relying solely on talents such as programming. Managers will be most impressed by employees who engage with the business and the industry, as this shows commitment to the organisation and a willingness to learn more about how it operates.
Raviv: “Tunnel vision can also be detrimental to tech workers’ growth and development as human beings. If employees neglect opportunities to refine soft skills, in favour of spending more time on technical tasks, their ability to relate to and manage team members will be found wanting when transitioning into leadership roles.
“If tech workers feel it is time to move into a completely different role or quit the industry altogether, a varied range of talents will equip them for success in whichever sector they move to.”
Take time to understand the industry
Commercial awareness is important for tech workers, as it helps contextualise their role and provides clarity on why certain decisions are made that affect their ways of working.
By doing their own research, entry-level or mid-level employees can build confidence to suggest changes they would like to see to a product that aligns with developments and trends in the market. Such initiative is sure to be appreciated by higher-level colleagues, regardless of whether they proceed with any recommendations.
Raviv agrees: “For tech leaders, industry understanding is an absolute must. C-suite executives should be seen as thought leaders in their field, equally adept at explaining the tech behind their product and also how it will positively impact the market.”
Seeing the bigger picture
A passion for tech is a quality that should be applauded by a business, and employees should never feel inclined to shy away from aspects of their role they value most. However, focusing heavily on the day job should not come at the expense of developing soft skills and learning about the industry: these are attributes that all workers with top-level aspirations should covet.
About STX Next
STX Next is the largest software house in Europe specialising in designing and creating digital solutions in the Python programming language. The company has been operating since 2005 and cooperates with over 500 people through eight offices in Poland. STX’s clients include leading international corporations, small and medium enterprises and the most innovative start-ups from around the world.