Ways to distinguish yourself – #63 Avoid CSS trap

Ways to distinguish yourself – #63 Avoid CSS trap

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 18 Nov 2005, 11:05 AM – 3 Comments

I am sure I caught the attention of some of the techies. Unfortunately I am not referring to “Cascaded Style Sheets.” as I don’t know of any traps there :) I am talking about “Continuous Spiral Syndrome” a fancy term for sideways movement in people’s career paths.

Let me explain. Imagine a coil (which is the form of a spiral) lying

horizontally a few inches above the ground. Most careers take this

shape after an initial upward movement – a sideways movement within a

band. The size of the band varies with people. The cascaded spiral

syndrome is tricky as when you are within this spiral, you won’t know

that you are within this trap.

The first few years on the job, there is an obvious growth in the pay

and the responsilities – sometimes within the same company and

sometimes because you switch for a higher pay or higher position or

both. Once you are a seasoned professional (more then 5-6 years of

experience) you are at risk of getting into the CSS trap if you don’t

distinguish yourself.

The pattern goes sometething like this:  


You acquire short term skills that will take you to the next level (2

to 3 years.) You get recognized (awards like employee of the month,

star performer etc.) and rewarded appropriately. This is the period of

rise in the spiral.

2. something happens (think

9/11, outsourcing, technology obsolescence etc.) and the value from

your knowledge of your current skills erode. This is the downward part

of the spiral. You justify this downward movement as something out of

your control – as ton of people are going through the same downward


3. But your are smart and you don’t go down too far. You pick up new skills and you are on your way to the top again.

4. Time flies and you go back to point #2 again.

You get the idea. While this is all happening, think about the changes

in your life and the drop in flexibility that is inevitable (marriage,

kids, age etc.)

Repeating this cycle is easy in the initial years of your career but it

gets harder with time (especially after three cycles of 3-5 years each)

So, what could you do?


be aware of the CSS trap and start taking personal responsibility when

things go down. You can always find external factors but that won’t

help you.

Second, during this whole

journey, continuously invest in yourself and your personal brand. This

is what will save you during the dips.


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3 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on November 20th, 2005

I think CSS is inevitable, so there is no way to avoid it. The best an individual can do is be prepared for change by continously investing and improving himself so that he/she is in a good postion to handle the change.

Anonymous  on November 20th, 2005


“Inevitable” may be a strong word. I am sure we would have seen examples of people who have clearly escaped the CSS trap.

I do agree with your comment that one has to “invest” in themselves to guard against this trap.



CHinmay  on February 13th, 2008

Very well written post….I am sure any IT Professional that reads this post can instantly connect the situation described to that of his own. I sincerely believe that we must keep pushing the boundaries (by learning new skills & achieving breakthroughs) and leave the job of appreciating for others around us…!

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