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Asia seeks tech career guidance

Tired of doing the same old job year after year, some IT professionals in Asia wonder about their career options and are keen on new experiences.

commentary Since ZDNet Asia started its Career Counsel section this year, I have received wide-ranging questions from people working in different facets of the IT industry, including fresh graduates and seasoned veterans.

The questions have also come from as far as the United States, but the majority has been from readers in Asia, including Malaysia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Some asked about compensation; others wanted to know which areas of specialization offer better prospects.

One reader, who had been promoted to a managerial position, wondered how she could better prepare herself for the role. Although excited about her new responsibilities, she was a little apprehensive due to her lack of technical knowledge.

Another reader was thinking of a major career move. Despite a successful eight-year career as an accountant, he was considering pursuing his interest in programming and embarking on a totally new career.

Interesting. He was considering a path that other readers were trying their hardest to break out from. For example, one computer science degree holder said: "There are not many positions that I can take up. The most common position is programmer and it is usually a contract position. You may be stuck as a programmer for quite some time before you move on to a team leader or senior programmer."

He added that other positions like IT or business analyst, IT audit and IT security were out of reach because they "require experience".

Another reader described programming as monotonous work, and said he was "jaded" after several years on the same job. And he found himself staying clear of anything that might remind him of work at the end of every work day.

Then there were those readers who were still passionate about IT but at a lost for what to do next.

After specializing in the Windows platform, one reader wanted to know if he should take the plunge and focus on something else. A long-time Lotus Notes specialist also wondered about specializing in a different technology and if he should embark on a new career path that offered an opportunity to move into project management further down the road. I suppose he had been reading many articles on ZDNet Asia, as well as other information sources, about the bright career projects in project management, but he was hesitant as he did not want to completely lose touch with Lotus Notes.

You may identify with these readers, and at some point of your career asked yourself these questions:

  • I am tired of doing the same old thing. How can I get out of this dead-end job?
  • This technology is a dying platform. What should I focus on next?
  • Everyone is talking about the tremendous opportunities in (this new emerging technology), but what are the long-term prospects?
  • I am good at what I do in software development and have no interest in the business aspects of IT. Does this mean I can never move up the corporate ladder and improve my earnings?
  • If I make this career switch, I'll have to take a pay-cut. Is it worth it? What if I don't enjoy the new job and want to return to my old one but that ship has sailed?
  • I am ready for a career switch and prepared to take a pay-cut, but age is catching up and employers seem to prefer younger hires. What do I do?
  • This new job sounds interesting and it is with a well-known company, but it is a contract position. Is it worth giving up my present permanent full-time job for?
  • You love what you do but feel the hours getting longer. The demands of the job are intensifying and taking its toil on your family life. What can you do? Is it possible to strike a work-life balance?

It's almost the end of the year, and this is the time when many of us look back on our accomplishments and reevaluate our career goals.

In Asia, employment opportunities remain rosy this quarter. According to Hudson's latest quarterly report, hiring expectations have risen in Hong Kong, China and Japan, but stayed steady in Singapore. Recruiters say they have difficulty filling positions and many are trying to retain staff by offering better pay.

How do you feel about your career prospects? Would you stay in your current job if your boss offered a raise without a promotion? Have you made a career move that you regret? If you are looking for new career opportunities, how is the job search going?

Share your views on IT as a career choice. Or if you have a nagging question about your career, our career advisors can lend perspective.