Time right for a move amidst uncertain economy?

A technical architect considers getting out of his "techie shell" and go on to management roles.

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Q. I have been in the IT industry for about 10 years. I am currently a technical architect and I am a thorough techie.

Considering a U.S. recession, jobs migration from India to elsewhere in Asia, and other economical issues put together, what should be a long-term strategy for my career? Should I stay in my techie shell or come out and move to management roles--because if IT jobs become scarce, at least management folks can still go elsewhere. Would it be that bad anytime?

Career advice from E. Balaji, CEO of HR services provider, Ma Foi Management Consultants:
I don't think there is any cause for immediate worry.

But first let me answer your question about moving to general management roles. I will take another industry case as an example. It is very unlikely that a head of operations of a cement company will move to head operations of a telecom company that is not part of a diversified group.

Within a diversified group like the GEs, Tatas and Reliances, such moves could be possible. Such moves outside a diversified group could, however, happen in functions like HR, administration or finance/accounts.

Thus, I wish to propose that a candidate from an IT industry with a general management background is usually not the most preferred when other industries are looking for management roles with general management skills. Typically, a company prefers candidates from the same industry or similar industries where their domain knowledge and skills picked up over the years can be leveraged in the new role.

Coming to the prospects of the IT industry, I don't see any cause for an immediate worry. The U.S. is a key market for most IT companies. Thus, a dip in economic prospects in companies in the U.S. could lead to a short-term squeeze of their IT budgets. However, all companies know that they need to change for the long-term--partly driven by compliance pressures, and partly by market-related pressures.

Thus, spending in IT will return as it would be essential for mere survival in a competitive world and also due to tighter legal norms or fiduciary responsibilities.

If the tight market continues beyond a few quarters, I have seen companies (across industries) going slow on new hires at junior levels. But the leading companies would be preparing harder to rake in maximum returns when the conditions change. Thus, such companies would be hiring candidates with niche skill sets--that means opportunities for candidates like you.

Personally, I don't think there is a need to press the panic button. However, it helps to revive your contacts with recruitment consultants, explore current options and continually augment your knowledge and skills.

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