The world of Information Technology offers an ever-growing, vast pool of opportunities. As a software developer you are primed to take advantage of the best of those opportunities. Chances are you've worked with a variety of different stakeholders including business analysts, project managers, system administrators, testers and even executive leaders. You may have even served in one of these or other capacities. The broad range of exposure means the career opportunities available to you are virtually limitless. You have to be proactive in pursuing those opportunities.
We will discuss seven key areas and activities you can start focusing on today to ensure you are well-equipped to advance in your career.
This is not just for developers and not just about getting a management title or any other job title. This is about reaching success in your career, no matter what that path or end goal looks like for you.
As technologists, we are uniquely equipped for career advancement with ability to transition to virtually any industry or segment. Your interactions with technology have likely exposed you to working with stakeholders at various levels.
Your skills make you valuable to your current employer, and to potential new employers, but you have to know how to get there.
This is about how to have confidence when going into an interview, asking for a raise, seeking a promotion, moving to a bigger company, etc.
AppointmentPlus is a global company and leader in online appointment scheduling software, focused on dominating our market by providing elegant, beautifully designed solutions for scheduling. Currently at 100 people here in the US and India. Named one of the best companies to work for in AZ in 2017.
My current role: Strategic leader of our software development efforts Started in software development as a freelancer in Chicago Resume shows steady growth and progression over the last 10+ years
This is not a regurgitation of other books or speakers, I am speaking from my own experience and results. This can be used as a framework for your path. This will likely grow/change as I do.
Not in any particular order, but some activities build on each other.
KEY: this creates a backlog of tangible, concrete examples of your contributions to use in raise negotiations, interviews, etc; remind yourself of your achievements, to boost your confidence.
You must document your projects, progress and improvements. Your portfolio should paint a complete picture of your journey as a technologist. At any given moment, you should be able produce tangible evidence of your contributions as an employee.
What to capture: code snippets/screen shots/videos highlighting technology you were a part of notes/descriptions of your projects metrics and success factors for your projects (i.e. hours spent, revenue generated, defects resolved, etc) copies of your performance reviews recommendation letters from faculty, peers and management copies of articles you've written technical documentation you've written certificates for courses you've completed your updated resume
KEY: understand how what you do makes a difference; gives you the confidence when asking for raises, promotions, interviews, etc; documents your value to your employer
Quantitative: If you have access to the tools and/or people within your company to do so, calculate how you've helped move the company in a positive direction. Metrics: New MRR, NRR, Churn, Velocity, etc Know the relationship between those metrics and your contributions
Qualitative: Your influence in intangible areas is just as important. While they may not necessarily be measurable, they do not go unnoticed.
KEY: understand the leverage you have in your current position and employer; gives you the information when negotiating raises, promotions, new jobs, etc
Value: n. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance or usefulness of something v. to have a high opinion of and consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial
Worth: n. the level at which someone deserves to be valued or rated n. sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action; deserving to be treated or regarded in the way specified. Worth is having the self-awareness to properly assess yourself and estimate what you are worth in the job market. Make it a habit to peruse job openings and labor stats, and analyze job descriptions, salaries and responsibilities. Are you earning what the market says you are worth? Are you developing and maintaining the skills that will keep you competitive in the current market?
KEY: this keeps you at the forefront of your leaders’ mind and makes them aware of your successes; they aren’t always looking; interviews are all about self-promotion
As you move beyond the realm of being an individual contributor, you'll find it increasingly necessary to understand how to market yourself. When you no longer have concrete, tangible items (like code) to present as collateral, you'll need to be able to speak to things like how you improved people and processes.
Resources for developing your image/brand: https://www.quicksprout.com/the-complete-guide-to-building-your-personal-brand-chapter-1/ https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287399 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250924
KEY: brings to your attention areas that need improvement; shows your leaders that you care
Critical feedback brings attention to the areas of your professional life that need improvement
Don’t be butt-hurt! Have the self-awareness to accept criticism and apply it.
Are you attending a meeting with your coworkers or a client? Send your colleagues an email to ask what you could have done better or how you can provide more value in the discussion.
Do you engage in peer code reviews? Ask the reviewer what they would have done differently.
Do you have a good relationship with a leader from a different team or department? Take them out to coffee or lunch and ask what you should do to prepare for the next level of your career.
KEY: If you're not learning, growing and evolving then you're in danger of becoming stagnant and irrelevant.
Know your craft: Depth: Do you know how your development platform handles memory management? If two functions use a different approach to achieve the same result, do you know which is more efficient? Do you understand how your application will interact with the OS below it? Do you know what features are being added to the next version of your language/platform? Breadth: Foundational principles Accepted standards and best-practices Trends and innovations
More than tech leadership and management financial management/planning assertive communication Project management time management
Share your knowledge “lonely experts” are not promotable If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself. –Albert Einstein Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand." –Colin Powell
There is always so much more to learn. The world around us is ever-changing.
KEY: it’s up to you to do something; it won’t just happen because you want it to
These words should describe how we feel about growth and advancement: assertive, passionate, urgent assertive: a. characterized by boldness or confidence a. self-assured and positive
passion: n. intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction n. powerful or compelling emotion or feeling
urgency: n. insistence or earnest solicitation
Title and experience alone aren't enough to propel you forward. Too many sit back and wait for managers to recognize contributions. Many think it is the employer's responsibility to manage their professional development. It is your own responsibility to move ahead in your career. Your employer will not always be focused on your career path. You have to be proactive.
Doing these things worked for me in continually progressing in my career, and I am confident that they can work for you as well.
Progressing as a Software Developer
Desert Code Camp 2017.1
• Director of Software Engineering at AppointmentPlus
• Team of 25+ in US and India
• SaaS using LAMP, Laravel, Angular, React, Vue
• Mobile apps in iOS and Android
• MS Office apps in C# .Net
• Previous roles
• Software Development Manager at AppointmentPlus
• Lead Software Developer at AppointmentPlus
• Senior Application Systems Analyst at University of Arizona College of Medicine
• Workstation Specialist at Saint Xavier University
• Helpdesk Intern
• Freelance/Self-Employed Multimedia Designer
IT WORKED FOR ME
• “Reverse engineered” the successes in my own 10 year journey
• Helpdesk Intern to Director of Software Engineering
• Delivering mouse pads to leading an international multi-discipline team
• Over 4x increase in salary
• There are other ways!
• I’m still learning and progressing
7 KEY ACTIVITIES
1. Catalog Your Successes
2. Calculate Your Impact
3. Know Your Value and Your Worth
4. Promote and Advertise Yourself
5. Ask for Feedback
6. Keep Learning
7. Seek Advancement Opportunities Proactively
BONUS: I to I Leadership Growth Model
CATALOG YOUR SUCCESSES
• You do cool stuff… document it!
• Actively maintain a portfolio of your
• Tell your complete story
• Good tool for self-reflection
What do I Capture?
• code snippets/screen shots/videos
• descriptions of your projects
• metrics and success factors
• copies of your performance reviews
• recommendation letters
• articles and technical documentation
• Certificates/continuing education
• your updated resume
CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT
• Use your portfolio to calculate
• How much money did you save the
• How much revenue did it generate?
• How much time did you save the
• How many clients did you gain/retain?
• Know your industry/company success
• Providing significant and relevant
contributions during meetings
• Sharing knowledge
• Staying late to support large projects
KNOW YOUR VALUE
AND YOUR WORTH
ROI your employer gets on their
investment in you; your irreplaceables
• Your unique knowledge and skills
• Your longevity within the company and
• Your consistent and reliable effort
• The problems you solve
Having the self-awareness to properly
self assess and understand what you can
demand in the job market
• Are you earning what the market says
you are worth?
• Are you developing and maintaining
the skills that will keep your
competitive in the current job market?
• Get comfortable talking about yourself
• Be your own best cheerleader
• Remind your superiors of your
• Keep building your portfolio
• Build and maintain a consistent
• Understand who you are
• Identify your values (i.e. your non-
• Identify your passions
• Expose who you are
• Share, share, share
• Be consistent
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It
fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It
calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
– Winston Churchill
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
• Soliciting external feedback from your peers and leaders is one of the most
important actions you can take in moving your career forward.
• Have the self-awareness to receive and apply constructive criticism.
• Identify and enhance your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.
• Don't just limit yourself to formal feedback loops (one on one, performance
• Just ask (the right people)!
I like constructive criticism from smart people.
• Stagnation leads to irrelevance!
• Know your craft: depth and breadth
• Learn more than technology
• Leadership and management
• Financial management/planning
• Better communication
• Project management
• Time management
• Share your knowledge
[A person’s] ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive
— Jack Welch
• Be proactive and assertive about your own growth and development with passion,
enthusiasm and urgency
• Volunteer to lead
• Step up when no one else will
• Have an [informed] opinion
• Let your direct manager know you want to do more
• Make meaningful connections
Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and
persistence. The extra energy required to make
another effort or try another approach is the secret
-- Denis Waitley, Author, Speaker and Consultant
1. Catalog Your Successes – keep an updated portfolio of your achievements
2. Calculate Your Impact – understand the effects of what you have done
3. Know Your Value and Your Worth – understand your leverage
4. Promote and Advertise Yourself – brag! and portray a consistent image
5. Ask for Feedback – find out where you need to improve
6. Keep Learning – don’t become stagnant and diversify your knowledge
7. Seek Advancement Opportunities Proactively – it’s up to you!