Is the experience paradox keeping you from doing what you love? The situation usually goes something like this. You have aspirations to move up in your company, but your employer requires specific experience that you are not able to gain in your current role. You have expressed your desire for professional development, but the opportunities for growth simply are not available to you. You know that you can prove your capability if given the chance, but, despite your best efforts, you have hit a ceiling that seems to be made of diamond-coated steel. At first glance it seems your choices are dismal. They include:
- You can remain in your current position, knowing that you have gone as high as you will go within your current company, hiding your frustration behind an “at least I can pay my bills” smile. WARNING: It will become increasingly difficult to hide your frustration, and you run the risk of becoming the miserable coworker everyone avoids, further decreasing any possible growth opportunities.
- You can remain in your current position, while attempting to explain to your leadership that they have dropped the ball when it comes to succession planning, which will ultimately cost them in the end. WARNING: Although an option, this particular tactic is risky. If the concept of succession planning is lost on your leadership, it is not likely they will embrace your attempt at managing up.
- You can search for a job outside of your company, but your lack of the desired experience seems to be a barrier to any position that interests you, leaving you the only option of leaving your current role for something similar. WARNING: Making a lateral move can set your career back years.
None of the options listed above are likely to serve you well. But, that does not mean your search for a more rewarding career path is futile. Sometimes, all it takes to find the desired path is a simple change in how you view the terrain. Let’s tweak JFK’s infamous words of wisdom a bit and relate it to your experience paradox, “Ask not what others can do for your career, but what you can do for others and help your career.”
Looking at it from this perspective, a fourth option appears, and the paradox becomes an opportunity. Help others, so that you can help yourself. There is no shortage of non-profits who are operating on very little capital. They may have computers, but not the technical skills to run them properly or to use them to their fullest potential. Consider offering your IT services to the charity of your choice.
You can hone your skills while helping out a good cause. Gain the experience that you currently lack, while also adding your service in the community to your resume. Once you have proven you are now capable in the area you previously fell short, your career options are broadened. You will have not only added the required technical skills, but also shown that you are a leader, and committed to helping a cause greater than yourself. You may even find that you have become a better person in the process. Not a bad side-effect of taking charge of your own professional development.