How to Advance Your Career as a Software DeveloperOctober 29, 2019 No Comments
Featured article by Fredrick Muriuki, Independent Technology Author
There is a huge demand for software developers in today’s digital economy. As more products require software, workers with software development skills are a hot commodity in the job market. The future is bright too, with studies showing the job will grow by a whopping 26% by 2026.
With big players such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM others taking centerstage, you have a widening pool of amazing jobs at your disposal. Other than that; software developers earn a decent median salary of over $100,000 per annum, making it one of the most lucrative jobs on the planet.
That being said, many candidates are competing for the same job you’re eyeing. As such, you must stand out from the crowd to land your dream software development job. Mainly, you need to build solid experience by learning and honing a variety of skills.
In today’s post, we shine light on a few tips you need to advance your career as a software developer. The following tips will come in handy if you’re looking for job, already in a job or freelancing. If you have any insights or suggestions, please let us know.
How to Advance Your Software Development Career
Growth is a combination of many things. In software development, it largely involves improving your technical and soft skills. And initiative – a lot of initiative as a self-starter. Also, keep in mind experience earned from hours of hands-on practice beats a fancy resume any day.
That out of the way, let us get down to business.
Learn All You the Code You Can
If you’re looking to advance your career as a software developer, you must live, eat and drink code. There is simply no other way; the marketplace has some really talented (and learned) candidates, meaning you must ace your dev knowledge or burn.
Having a strong development foundation is of utmost importance. In interviews, the questions revolve mainly around business and software. As such, getting the right education is vital. A degree in software development goes a long way in helping you get your dream job.
Of course, earning an advanced degree will take you even further. Now a days, top software development job candidates have a master’s degree (or other advanced degrees). If you have the time and can afford it, it’s worth pursuing further education. And if time or money are a factor for you, consider online programs that are a fraction of the cost and allow you to work on your own time and at your own pace.
Some companies will even pay your tuition fees if you join the on-the-job training program. Take advantage of such initiatives to get all the education you can. On top of that, a few industry certifications can add weight to your next job application.
Whichever programming language you choose, learn like you’ll live forever. Remember that at times, you might need to handle different programming languages competently. As such, become familiar with a broad range of languages to increase your market value.
Work on Personal Projects
When I say personal projects, I mean all the projects you do on your spare time. For starters, build a remarkable project, and by “remarkable” I mean something unique, not another Uber-like app that everybody puts on their CV.
Employers are actively fishing for creativity employees who show initiative, and your remarkable personal project could be the difference between rejection and a job offer. And who knows, your project could be the next big thing, or exactly what your dream employer needs.
Besides, working on personal projects helps you to sharpen your skills, build a portfolio, and get your name out there. The scope of your personal projects can cover everything from volunteer stints, opensource commits at GitHub to hobbyist projects and so on.
They say practice makes perfect. Just like working out in the gym, you must keep practicing your tech chops to realize tangible results. People who code daily are without a doubt better than people who code once a month. If you don’t code, your skills atrophy.
Bottom line: Work on personal projects whether you’re looking for a job, in a job, or freelancing. In your circles, identify what’s lacking and build it. At the office, how can you help the business achieve more? A personal project that streamlines the business flow will get the attention of your boss.
While at it, beef up your portfolio website and LinkedIn profile.
Networking opens a world of job opportunities. I cannot tell you how many times I have won referral business through my network. To be honest, my whole freelance business thrives on referral business. I have enjoyed the value of networking since I went freelance in 2008.
Networking opens a lot of doors as far as advancing your software development career goes, and I can’t emphasize this enough. The whole point of networking is to get your name out there. However, don’t network simply because you want more work – network to build mutually satisfying relationships.
Many reputable companies are keen on networking, and send staff to events all the time. Grab the opportunity and go meet like-minded individuals who can help you advance your career. Even if you’re an individual contractor, attend conferences and networking events whenever you can.
Further, join online communities for software developers. A couple of famous platforms include Stack Exchange, DZone, Hashnode and Hacker News among others. For software development events in your area, a simple Google search should suffice. You can also check out meetup.com.
Work on Your Soft Skills
If you ask around, many people will tell you software developers sit in front of computers assaulting keyboards in complete isolation. Well, things are totally different in reality. Software developers aren’t as isolated as you imagined; they work within teams from project idealization to completion.
The ability to get along with others is a vital skill to master if you want to move your career forward. But more often than not, software developers forget all about soft skills, and focus entirely on the technical side of things.
To thrive, you need soft skills such as the ability to communicate effectively, analytical skills so you can think outside the box, great team collaboration skills and time management among others. Or as Bart Loews puts it:
“Learn project management, business processes, finance, economics, salesmanship, enhance your people skills (take classes like Dale Carnegie). Being employed in a technical field doesn’t mean you need to keep your head down and do tech work. To really advance you have to be multifaceted outside the tech also.”
Are you learning something here today? I hope so. Let’s move on to the next point.
Protect Your Reputation
Your reputation precedes you, more so in the close-knit and tight world of software developers. When I got into freelancing, that younger version of me was, regrettably, quite naïve and unprofessional. As a result, my first brand took some critical rep hits, and I was out. Learned my lesson, and rebranded, so it’s all good now.
Treat your reputation like an egg; one mistake and you’re left with empty shells. Word goes around very fast, and a bad reputation can stand in your way to bigger career opportunities. Promotions will elude you, more so if employers think you are hard to work with.
This point goes hand in hand with our soft skills point above. But other than honing your soft skills, be an awesome person. Act with honor and integrity both at and out of work. If word goes around that you’re unprofessional, unreliable, rude, and so on, your growth stalls.
Other than that, specialize and aim for the stars.
Software development is an exciting and lucrative career choice. The future is bright and opportunities a plenty. Now is the best time to take action and advance your software development career with the tips in today’s article.
Over to you. Which is the best way to advance a career as a software developer? Let us know.SOCIAL BUSINESS