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5 Tips for Working in a High Turnover Field

You show up on Monday, only to find out one of your team members turned in their notice. Are you surprised? Or would you be more surprised to find out that nobody was resigning?

For most IT pros, it’s usually the latter — which, on the upside, means you’re not alone. Information technology, in general, has a high job turnover rate. In fact, some areas of your office may feel as though they need a revolving door installed.

There can be lots of reasons for the low retention rates, including the constant evolution of technology and the innovative nature of the people who are attracted to tech jobs. Whatever the reason, if you’re working in a field with high turnover, it can be frustrating to try to adapt to the fact that the person seated next to you might change from one month to the next. Here are some tips that can help.

1. Ground Yourself

The stress of change takes more of an emotional toll on people than they often realize. If your environment is constantly changing, find ways to ground yourself. Make your workspace more comfortable or set up a playlist to listen to as you work that will keep you focused and productive. When you can maintain a significant chunk of your own workday routine, you’ll be better able to cope with changes all around you. You can also use this technique to make it easier to adapt when you change jobs — and let’s face it: in IT, you will change jobs. Find ways to build healthy work habits based on your own performance so you don’t have to rely on your workplace for that grounding.

2. Document All Processes

One of the most annoying things about losing a coworker is that somebody has to pick up the slack in the interim. Even if you can hire someone quickly or bring in a contractor during the transition, you and your colleagues have to deal with getting the newbie up to speed. The more your processes are documented in writing, the easier these transitions will be.

Make time to document all that you do — and, perhaps more importantly, all that your colleagues do. With rapid turnover, you’ll soon see the value of documentation when you can rest a little easier handing over documentation to the newbie, rather than spending hours trying to figure out what folks did before they left.

Bonus: Imagine how lovely it would be to start a new gig of your own and have all the documentation you need the moment you walk through the door? Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want documentation for your future gigs, start by creating that documentation for your own role! This will instantly grant you good IT karma.

3. Avoid Overloading Yourself

When your team is shorthanded, it can provide the perfect opportunity to prove — and improve — yourself. However, don’t fall into the trap of taking on too much, which leads to extra stress and possibly even career-damaging mistakes. Know when to tell your boss “enough is enough” in a professional way. Instead of saying “yes” to everything, say you’ll evaluate your workload (which is a very nice way of saying “no”). Detail to your boss the items you currently have on your plate and ask which they would like for you to set aside to take on the additional workload. Your boss may see all you’re doing and decide it’s time to hire some more team members, or even give you a raise.

4. Leverage Your Loyalty

If you’ve stayed with your current employer while many others have come and gone, it may well be that your loyalty is worth something. When it’s time for a raise or an opportunity for a promotion comes available, emphasize your loyalty as part of your pitch. Even if your credentials are still slightly lacking, you bring something to the company that others obviously don’t.

5. Update Your Skills

To be honest, your coworkers may be onto something. If you’ve asked for a raise, helped with job transitions, and still gotten nowhere, it may be time to think about moving on. Either way, you should reevaluate your resume periodically and determine if your credentials are up to date. There are many resources available to allow you to earn a new IT certification in your spare time.

If you’ve chosen a tech field with high turnover, life will never be boring. But you can make the most of it by showing your loyalty to your current employer or preparing yourself to quickly move up the career ladder by switching jobs frequently. Either way, you should be able to enjoy a long, fruitful career.

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