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I'm finding myself in a bit of a pickle. I've been at a pretty comfortable IT group for almost a decade. I got my start here working on web development, mostly CRUD, but have demonstrated the ability to figure out more complex problems. I'm not a rock star, but I have received many compliments on my programming aptitude, and technologists and architects have commented on my ability to pick things up (for example, I recently learned a very popular web framework that shall remain nameless since I don’t want to be identified).

My problem is that, over time, my responsibilities have been shifting towards work such as support or ‘development’ with some rather niche products (afraid to mention here due to potential for being identified). Some of this work, if it includes anything resembling coding, is very menial scripting in languages such as Powershell or VBScript. The vast majority of the time, however, a typical day consists of going back and forth with the product’s vendor support to send them logs and apply configuration changes or patches they recommend. I’m basically starved for some actual software development.

However, even though I’m more than capable of doing that development work (and actually do a much better job at it than anything else), our boss is more interested in the kind of work I mentioned above, her reasoning being that since no one else in the organization wants to do it, it must mean job security. This has been going on for close to 3 years, and the only reason I have held on is on the promise that we would eventually get more development projects assigned to us.

Well, that turned out not to be true at all. A recent talk with the boss has just made it more explicitly clear, as she told me in no uncertain terms that it’s very likely that development work (web or otherwise) would go to another group. The reason given to me is that our we don’t have enough resources in our group to handle that.

So now I find myself in the position that I either have to stay in what has essentially become a dead end IT job that is tied to the fortunes of a niche stack of apps, or try to find a position that will be better for my long term career. My problem (is it a problem?), however, is that compared to others, my development projects in the last three years are very sparse in number. To compound things, projects using the latest and most popular frameworks, amount to the big fat number of just one—with no work of that kind in the foreseeable future.

I am very concerned that this sparseness in my resume is a deficit, and that it will hurt my chances of landing a different job. I’m also wondering how much it will hurt me, and whether that can be ameliorated with hobby projects of my own. I guess I’m looking for opinions.

Thank you very much for reading.

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closed as off topic by gnat, Morons, Robert Harvey, maple_shaft Nov 2 '12 at 19:55

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Please consider reducing the lenght of your question. –  user61852 Nov 2 '12 at 17:55
OK. I will try to rework it. Thanks for the feedback. I know it's a mouthful! –  Keoma Nov 2 '12 at 17:58
Strictly speaking, this question is OT (see FAQs) as it's related to career advice, salary or compensation and general workplace issues, office politics, résumé help... however, I sympathise with you - you are not the first person to be considered too critical to one aspect of the company's activity, to be able to migrate into other areas. –  Andrew Nov 2 '12 at 18:11
cross-posted at Workplace: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/5985/… –  gnat Nov 2 '12 at 19:05
dude... get a new job –  hanzolo Nov 2 '12 at 20:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your situation is not uncommon. Look for a new job that is in alignment with your career goals, but keep your existing job until the new one is secured, and have a exit strategy ready. Unless you're working in a software firm on a large product with demanding customers, software projects will always be rather short lived, and you will find that your current scenario is not all that rare.

You also have to remember that your boss must do what saves the most time and money, and if you can do that for them then that's the obvious choice from a business perspective. There are people who are happy to be in the position you are right now, but if you're not then it probably isn't the right job for you anymore.

It is also worth noting that you should be honest, and talk with your boss. Let them know that your duties are no longer in alignment with your career goals and that you would like to be working on long(er)-term software development projects. If they can't provide that to you or won't and you put in your resignation, they will (should) understand.

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You could also attempt to see about switching with team you are part of within your current company. Another IT team gets all the new dev work? Apply to be a part of that team. –  James P. Wright Nov 2 '12 at 18:05
Was updating to talk about that very point. +1. –  David Anderson - DCOM Nov 2 '12 at 18:08
Thanks for the answer. There is other programming type of work available, but the boss won't take on it as she wants to focus her resources on the other stuff. She has been clear that her strategy consists of work that is "undesirable" to other groups (she brags about it). :) –  Keoma Nov 3 '12 at 19:52
Also, there is a fair amount of politics involved in those decisions, which I didn't want to get into. But, as an example, she has admitted to us that she hides from her boss the fact that the vendor products in question are very buggy, that their vendor support is mediocre, and that they cause a lot of issues. The reason she hides that is that she is afraid that her boss will tell her to get rid of the apps in question. –  Keoma Nov 3 '12 at 19:53

I agree with danderson, but I would not recommend you have a discussion with your boss. Find a new job, tender your resignation, and be done with it. If your boss thinks you are unhappy, your boss may promise new things, while at the same time starting a search for your replacement.

One risk of working a long time at one company is that others always see you as the person you were, with the skills that you had, when you started. The guru is always the guru, and the intern is always the intern, even if the reality is much different.

While you are looking for a job, you may need to work on some side projects in the technologies you prefer, so you'll have a portfolio available for prospective employers.

Your "niche" activities are job security only in the short term. When you look for the new job, if there are any technical areas you want to avoid, then remove them from your resume, even if it makes finding a job more difficult. Otherwise you could end up in the same situation.

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It sounds like you don't love your current work situation. I advise you leave and find a company that will benefit from your talents while profiting from helping you gain more.

But you should always try to keep your skills up by working on independent projects you can put on your resume.

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