Career Plateaus in the IT industry

Career Plateaus in the IT industry

A career plateau refers to a stage in your work where you are stuck in a limbo due to some

A career plateau refers to a stage in your work where you are stuck in a limbo due to some internal or external factors. In information technology jobs, your level of competence, education, and experience will only get you to a certain point and there’s no opportunity to progress further until a massive disruption takes place. The disruption could either be caused by the retirement of your immediate supervisor, a transfer to another branch, or the company sets up an offshore office to reduce cost.

Because most employees believe that the success of information technology careers is equivalent to moving up the corporate ladder, being stuck in a career plateau can be a source of stress and dissatisfaction. It’s not uncommon for these people to become passive-aggressive towards their day-to-day work. They produce  mediocre results, decrease productivity, or may even create drama in the workplace.

Types of Career Plateau

The reasons for a career plateau could be either external  or internal. Internal refers to the unique structural hierarchy of your organization. Each designation is outlined, and positions are severely limited. Once all the vacancies are filled up, it would be difficult to adopt changes. External refers to the content delivery. If companies are consistently off their target market , information technology careers naturally suffer as a result.

What are the Reasons for the Career Plateau?

It’s impossible for a company that is affected by the digital disruption to expand operations and effect personnel movement. A of profits forces the company to suspend the promotion of employees. In fact, it would be more cost-efficient to hire IT consulting companies than to promote people.

Internally, the employee has reached the apex of what his position offers. There has to be a turnover first before any tectonic shift in the hierarchical position will occur. If the position you are aiming for is already occupied by somebody who’s not retiring anytime soon, then you are stuck with your current job for a long time.

Negative and Positive Outcomes Associated with Plateaus


If the employee becomes disillusioned with how his career has turned up, you can almost always expect a backlash.


– Reduced productivity

– Below average to average output

– More time engaged in useless endeavors

– No value contributed to the company


An employee with a positive outlook, however, will look at the career plateau as an opportunity.


– They actively plan their careers, so they can move forward even if they are not necessarily moving up

– They boost their resumes by taking on additional responsibilities and learning different project management techniques outside the purview of their set day-to-day responsibilities


How to Avoid Hitting a Career Plateau


  1. Invest in your social capital – It’s no longer viable to remain ensconced in a cubicle to become the best at what you do. By increasing your social capital, it will make it harder for the management to replace you.
  2. Sell yourself – IT consulting companies are able to bring in consistent clientele even if you probably know as much, if not more, than them. The strategy is good communication skills.
  3. Adaptation is key – Don’t refuse a task just because it’s not your responsibility. Take it as an opportunity to learn. The important thing is to continue to build your knowledge and skillset.


In most information technology careers, a career plateau is inevitable. But there are only two ways to respond to it: either adapt to your current situation or change careers. Unfortunately, in a contracting economy, information technology jobs are in short supply. The next best thing, therefore, is to change one’s attitude to become an irreplaceable asset to your team.




Posted by
Sajid Khan

Sajid Khan is the President at MicroAgility and has over three decades of management and consulting experience. He leads the efforts in many projects including operational improvements, cost reduction, and managing growth. Sajid strives to help others succeed and to create opportunities that are sustainable and uplifting for humanity — always guided by the virtues of hard work, quality, and kindness.

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