Ways to distinguish yourself – #63 Avoid CSS trap

I am sure I caught the attention of some of the techies. Unfortunately I am not referring to “Cascaded Style Sheets.” as I don’t know of any traps there 🙂 I am talking about “Continuous Spiral Syndrome” a fancy term for sideways movement in people’s career paths.

Let me explain. Imagine a coil (which is the form of a spiral) lying
horizontally a few inches above the ground. Most careers take this
shape after an initial upward movement – a sideways movement within a
band. The size of the band varies with people. The cascaded spiral
syndrome is tricky as when you are within this spiral, you won’t know
that you are within this trap.

The first few years on the job, there is an obvious growth in the pay
and the responsilities – sometimes within the same company and
sometimes because you switch for a higher pay or higher position or
both. Once you are a seasoned professional (more then 5-6 years of
experience) you are at risk of getting into the CSS trap if you don’t
distinguish yourself.

The pattern goes sometething like this:  

You acquire short term skills that will take you to the next level (2
to 3 years.) You get recognized (awards like employee of the month,
star performer etc.) and rewarded appropriately. This is the period of
rise in the spiral.

2. something happens (think
9/11, outsourcing, technology obsolescence etc.) and the value from
your knowledge of your current skills erode. This is the downward part
of the spiral. You justify this downward movement as something out of
your control – as ton of people are going through the same downward

3. But your are smart and you don’t go down too far. You pick up new skills and you are on your way to the top again.
4. Time flies and you go back to point #2 again.

You get the idea. While this is all happening, think about the changes
in your life and the drop in flexibility that is inevitable (marriage,
kids, age etc.)

Repeating this cycle is easy in the initial years of your career but it
gets harder with time (especially after three cycles of 3-5 years each)

So, what could you do?

be aware of the CSS trap and start taking personal responsibility when
things go down. You can always find external factors but that won’t
help you.

Second, during this whole
journey, continuously invest in yourself and your personal brand. This
is what will save you during the dips.