Disclaimer: This article is directed to software developers who want to create a substantial impact in their industry of choice. If lifetime balance or stability is more important to you, this content might not be relevant. But, if what you want is to excel, keep on reading…
Software development is a highly technical field and will be so for decades to come.
As developers, we get paid to design, model, and automate. Later on, management starts playing a higher role but even as a manager, technical excellence will make your job much much easier.
Technical excellence is the backbone of your developer career.
And what is the most common advice here?
The obvious answer is years of experience. You need to see IT projects succeeding and failing. You need to see different development teams and different companies.
Others say you need to write a few million lines of code and contribute to open-source projects, I disagree.
Think about it.
If experience was the key differentiator, there would be no 19 year’s old Messi. Experience is one of the roughest indicators particularly in the field of technology and it mostly works when comparing extremes. Between a 12 years experienced developer and a 2 years junior the difference will be obvious. But what about a 3 years mid-level and 5 years one?
Experience is the most common indicator of seniority, particularly in the field of technology, yet it mostly works when comparing extremes.
Here it gets tricky, and here you can see who is intentional about their growth (technically and not only) and who is just “waiting for things to happen”. Who is executing in the sprint and who is just waiting for 5’o clock?
You can see who was clocking time and "waiting for things to happen".
I agree that experience comes with time.
But, time is relative.
Your job as an ambitious software developer is to press the pedal and give it some gas. And because experience is such a relative measure of skill:
What really matters is what you have been doing all those years.
Seeing is not enough. Exposure to information is not enough, particularly in technical disciplines. Plus, a job can only give you exposure to certain topics.
And how can you do that without waiting for years? Regardless of the team’s culture or the company you work for?
As in many other disciplines, in software development long term success means great habits.
Our clients are successfully using these 3 habits to excel in their growth and stay ahead of the curve:
1.) Commit to your personal “tech radar”
Companies do this, and you should do it too. A tech radar helps them evaluate future technologies and make decisions regarding their adoption.
But Dragos, I am a developer of course I am doing this already. Yes, you probably do. You are reading this article, aren’t you? By commitment, I mean to block a monthly slot in your calendar around 1 hour where you will only dedicate yourself to visualize and periodically update your own technology radar (more on how to build one in a future article).
When a new technology moves into the "adoption" stage, then make a plan to start learning it.
No need for a huge commitment, just start getting your hands dirty. If it is a library or framework that your company can benefit from as well, that's a win-win.
2.) Document like your life depends on it
One of the major habits I borrow from every successful tech lead/CTO I work with. They were all taking loads of notes. Whether it was a technical choice, a change in requirements, or their own personal development, they had a habit of writing things down. With time this will help you put things into perspective, doing reality checks and making sure you “leave no stone unturned”. It will also help you be always on the spot in meetings.
Whether it was a technical choice, a change in requirements, or their own personal development, they had a habit of writing things down.
I borrowed this habit early in my career. Start with a “technical” diary. Write down what was your progress on that day. Go into technical details, the more the better.
3.) If you think about it, go ahead and write about it
This is a big one for many developers. And if you are thinking “I have nothing to say”, think twice. If you executed the steps above, just check your notes. Start small, drop those notes into a personal blog.
You probably have a lot to say.
Don’t be shy, share it on the social media you are active on. Stick to it even if engagement or likes are small. Connect with other people that do the same. You will realise that you do have something to say. By giving it shape and putting it out there it gets even better.
There it goes.
Start doing these 3 things regularly and trust me, the sky will be the limit for your growth as a software developer and technical leader.
And if you are truly ambitious and you want to realise the full potential of your career, then get in touch with my team. You can apply for a FREE initial consultation where we will go over your situation and design a step-by-step plan for you to get to the next level.
I look forward to speaking to you personally soon!
Expert Software Coach