Book Review: Life Beyond IT

I mentioned career coach Joanne Dustin’s site, Career Lost and Found, in a previous post, and today I’d like to review her book, Life Beyond IT. (Also available on

Two important points:

  1. This book is aimed directly at Information Technology professionals who are considering a career change, although the coaching themes running through it also make it useful to non-IT folks in the corporate world.

  2. The book is (I think) deliberately short and well-edited at just 91 pages and easily readable in a few hours. I finished a chapter at a time during lunch breaks.

Joanne begins with a poignant recall of her own extensive IT experience in the US corporate world and the effects of outsourcing and offshoring on US-based IT colleagues and friends.

Of the 15 people featured, 5 are female and almost all are in mid-life. The majority left Corporate IT employee roles for a range of entrepreneurial pursuits but a few successfully reinvented themselves as IT consultants.

That’s an important point about the impact of good coaching; to act with the client’s best interests in mind. And in some cases, a career change may not be the optimal solution.

Simply reinventing your role (and purpose) within an existing career track can work wonders!

The life stories are succinct and interesting in themselves but the real power of the book comes in 3 short sections at the end of each chapter. These are:

  1. Advice To Others:
    Here the featured person gives some advice on the pluses and minuses of their career change story, albeit with the added benefit of hindsight.

  2. Purpose:
    This is a subtle coaching theme running through the book and one the reader is gently reminded to examine in their own life, through the stories of others.

(And by the way, Life Purpose statements don’t have to be change-the-world manifestos although they can be! Some in this book are very ;ordinary but just right for the persons concerned.)

  1. Food For Thought: Here’s the coaching dessert!
    Served up in the form of some powerful and challenging questions. (Of course, they are only powerful and challenging questions if you take the time to think about them and start coming up with answers and ideas.)

How To Use This Book:

I can see two powerful ways to apply the knowledge and experience contained in Joanne’s book.

  • Pick some chapters that really appeal to you, get a small pocket notebook, and work through the Advice, Purpose and Food for Thought sections.

  • Work with a Career / Life coach on some of the questions and ideas that come up for you.

Although the IT career change stories are all of US-based corporate employees, the life lessons shared are valuable to anyone wanting to do more of what they enjoy (and get paid for it).

Achieving that goal may be an even tougher journey than the apparent benevolent dictatorship approach that underlies the existence of corporate careers in the competitive global economy.

(And just how tough is revealed in some of the stories. But if you’re not prepared to work hard for what you really want, then this book will probably not inspire you.)

Recommended reading for IT Career Changers.