Information Technology Outsourcing

How Outsourcing Can Affect Your Career in IT

IT Support team working in an office

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In the United States, corporations have outsourced many thousands of jobs to offices outside the country. Many of these jobs belong to so-called offshore organizations in Europe and Asia. The media buzz and corporate momentum around IT offshoring and outsourcing reached a peak in the mid-2000s but continues to be a topic of discussion in the industry today.

As a current Information Technology professional in the U.S., or a student considering a future career in IT, outsourcing is a business trend you must fully understand. Don't expect the trend to reverse any time in the foreseeable future, but don't feel powerless to cope with the changes either.

Changes Coming with Information Technology Outsourcing

In the 1990s, workers were attracted to the Information Technology field given its challenging and rewarding work, good pay, numerous opportunities, the promise of future growth, and long-term job stability.

Outsourcing has impacted each of these IT career fundamentals although the extent has been heavily debated:

  1. The nature of the work changes dramatically with offshoring. Future IT positions may be equally rewarding or may prove wholly undesirable depending on one's individual interests and goals.
  2. Information Technology salaries have been increasing in the countries that receive outsourcing contracts
  3. Likewise, the total number of IT jobs have increased in some countries and may have decreased in the U.S. as a result of outsourcing. IT job stability from country to country varies greatly depending on the maturity of its offshoring business models.

How to Cope with Information Technology Outsourcing

IT workers in the U.S. have already witnessed some impacts of IT outsourcing, but the future impacts will possibly be even greater. What can you do to prepare? Consider the following ideas:

  • Don't panic. The prospect of job searches or career changes can be quite stressful to Information Technology workers. IT students may understandably begin to question their choice of career. However, the more stress a person takes on, the more difficult it becomes to successfully reach their career goals.
  • Don't count on market upturns. Experts predicted a sharp upturn in the U.S. economy and increase in IT jobs many times since the dot-com crash of the early 2000s, which did not happen for many years. Expect businesses with operations in the U.S. to continue to manage their IT budgets conservatively in the future.
  • Become a generalist. Years ago in Information Technology, specialization was king. Those with the heaviest technical backgrounds and loftiest job titles, like Enterprise Architects, commanded the highest salaries. Nowadays, a person is much better positioned if they are skilled in multiple areas of technology, computer networking, and the business side of IT. Flexibility is king.
  • Look to smaller organizations. Outsourcing requires a certain scale of up-front investment and time to pay back that small companies sometimes cannot justify. 
  • Start your own business. Uncertain economic times, and occasions of industry change, are often the best ones for starting a new business due to lower prices for capital, less competition, and the natural emergence of big new market opportunities. All it takes is an entrepreneurial attitude and a few good ideas.

Above all, whatever your chosen career path, strive to find happiness in your work. Don't fear the ongoing change in Information Technology just because others are afraid. Control your own destiny.