Career Myths that Could Help Younger IT Workers

Want to know why you might be having trouble with the morale of IT employees? A somewhat dour look at the top myths of a technology career might be illustrative of what is causing the problems. It could also help you become a career mentor for younger employees.

Alan Norton, a self-described “semi-retired” tech worker with more than three decades experience, writes about 10 common career myths in an article for Some of the advice is generic (i.e. “Social Security will be there for you as promised”) but other thoughts on his list could prove helpful for younger tech works that could use mentoring in your organization.

Norton makes an interesting observation that should be an eye opener for any CIO. He says one of the great myths is “You will climb the career ladder.” Cut through the cynicism of that statement and mine this nugget: “If you are a technician or specialist and ambitious and want to climb the corporate ladder in such a company, you may have to transition to a managerial position with a broader career path. It’s not common to see a tech successfully make the transition to management but it can be done.”

Why isn’t it common to see techs transition to management? Most likely because they don’t receive the training. One of the biggest desires of Millenials is more education and training at work. They want to be kept current.

Well, if you’re investing in their education, make sure you invest in their career development, too. Granted, there’s always a risk that you train someone to be a manager and they depart for greener pastures. If you’ve done your job right, there will be others ready to step in and take over because they’ve had management training.

Norton goes on to also say, “Your career will bring you happiness.” He cites a four-year-old survey, which finds, “the willingness of IT employees to “exert high levels of discretionary effort” — put in extra hours to solve a problem, make suggestions for improving processes, and generally seek to play a key role in an organization — has plummeted to its lowest levels since the survey was launched 10 years ago.”

But a more recent survey by TechTarget says, “Innovation and challenging work is driving high IT job satisfaction and minimal active job hunting among IT executives, according to TechTarget’s 2014 IT Salary Survey, but those aren’t the only reasons some people are staying put.” So, executives are happy but the minions aren’t.

Unfortunately the best road to happiness might be more money.

According to a survey of 27,000 UK graduates, “Young men graduating from university expect to earn more money, work longer hours and be less satisfied in their job than their female peers.” At least in the UK money can buy happiness. The simple solution, if your budget allows, might be twice-a-year salary reviews to replace annual raises. In some instances you can end up spending the same money but get better results by acting more often.

This last myth may be the most important to address with younger workers: “You will be able to retire when expected.” As Norton observes, “We are, after all, living longer on average than we did in 1960. Life expectancy in the United States has grown from 69.7 in 1960 to 77.5 years in 2003, so it is not entirely unreasonable that we should be expected to retire later. The current economic downturn hasn’t helped, either. Many Boomers are facing the reality that retirement will come later than originally planned.”

Stress to young IT workers the need to invest in retirement now – when it’s cheaper. Companies that demonstrate strong financial advice are usually better received by employees.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.