+ Alt .NET November 2012 Managing Your Technical Career on a Sea of Analog Advice
+ Your Issues How do you get promoted when managers are no-longer hands-on and they dont understand the complexity of technology? How do you find the right balance of technical skills along with project management skills? Is it ―better‖ to remain an independent consultant, work for a consulting firm or look for another company? Competing against younger, ―smarter‖ newcomers and being able to get a foot in the door is a Catch-22 situation: Prior experience in a skill area is required but I cant get the initial job to gain that experience. What can I do? How do you spot a job that you shouldnt take?
+ More of Your Issues How do I work on exciting new technologies when my company is not keeping their stack fresh? How do I transition from a consulting or company IT role into an engineering leadership role at the same level? How do I summarize my many years of experience with many different technologies into a great resume? How do I position myself as an ―old school but new cool‖ developer - almost 40 years old – in the job market? Is relevancy passing me by because of my age?
+ Even More of Your Issues How do you manage relationships with colleagues who dont understand the concerns of good software development and management practices? Does creating a technical career require you to trade-off personal and professional growth? What situations would transcend this? Do the race and gender demographics within the technology sector impact the creation of sustaining mentor relationships?
+ My Thoughts Give me commitment to a lifetime of self improvement and professional passionate over perfection Technical experts are usually shielded during downturns and rewarded during up-cycles If you’re not a tech expert, consider adding another area to your repertoire Technical skills can be trained; critical thinking and analysis skills are much tougher to develop
+ More of My Thoughts Once in ―management‖ very few I’ve ever known would say that they would prefer to go back to a technical career Spend 10-15 years in a highly technical role before switching to management – sadly many companies use management as a ―raise‖ carrot How can you go ―there‖ is you don’t know where ―there‖ is or how to get ―there‖?
+ Common HR Maxim “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will believe that it is stupid” …or how HR teaches most managers to assess the performance and potential of their team Side Topic: Do managers of technical people remain technical enough to assess the skills of the technical people?
+ What Can You Do When… You realize that you’re not as technical as you thought you were and to close the gap really makes you nauseous? You realize that in your team of quasi-dysfunctional developers you’re by far the most organized – perhaps even OCD like - even if you truly prefer the technical elements of your job? You realize that you’ve been attending far too many Alt .NET and related Meetups and hackathons and are ignoring the other people (or pets) in your life? You’re fast approaching 30 and saying ―Dude‖ is actually beginning to sound funny?
+ Unscientific Self Test Have you learned something new during the past 30 days? Do you volunteer on some committee? Have you been working on the same stuff over the past 3 years? Would you rank any of the people where you work as some of the best in the industry? Have you met at least 2 people over the past 30 days who made you think, ―Wow!‖? Have you been contacted by a non-recruiter during the past 6 months about a potential job?
+ Be a Better… Developer: http://www.sans.org/top25-software-errors/ Thinker: Expand interests outside of technology Leader: Manage tough situations Communicator: Write and Speak Builder: Create a Community Owner: Manage your career
+ Be a PEST: Tracking the Globe Keep your eye on the changing landscape areas other than technology; these always impact career landscapes Political (e.g., changing party policies) Economic (e.g., global debt) Social (e.g., class movement) Technological (e.g., new collaboration tools)
+ What will it take…? For you to actually earn more money? For you to move to another group? For you to move up to the next title level? For you to become a manager? For you to become the head of software development? For you to become the CTO? For you to move over to product development? For you to be recognized as a (vomiting in my mouth as I type these) Ninja, Guru, Samurai or Expert?
+ Eventually… You might want to ―graduate‖ from writing code to solving a larger business problem – one that is closer to the revenue stream… You might recognize how much you truly dislike being managed by someone whom you believe to be less technically proficient than you…
+ Then again… You can become especially great at solving technical problems then become a contractor…and earn CTO money (and likely have little time to spend it) This means that you’ll have to continue to broaden your skills base to be viewed as an ―edge changer‖ – and become more involved in marketing your abilities
+ Talent Facts Don’t knock management until you’ve tried it for at least 2 performance cycles Rotate jobs to develop breadth that can be used for both your technical and leadership voices I like to recruit people (many recruiters don’t) who offer many different types of work environments – these can be internal and/or external Develop your leadership skills away from work Do what you love – even if it makes you lose your hair (makes for great blog fodder) In real life you aren’t given Blue Ribbons for an 8th place finish – be the best and try to finish first…
+ Career Management Tools LinkedIn profile (SEO focused) Code repo (e.g., GitHub, StackOverflow) – with collaboration Success journal Blog 2-3 meetings per month Accept 1 volunteer leadership role annually Attend 2 conferences annually (Exhibitors Hall at Javits) Participate in 1 Hackathon annually Look at computer science research at Universities
+ Be a Savvy Career Shopper Reach out to folks who’ve left (―Previous‖ job on LinkedIn profile) - find out why Ask for specific examples of career-pathing for technical employees Ask ―how would you react to me (doing something)‖ People most often leave the supervisor because of behaviors they wish they had known Google two-year old or three-year old press releases on projects/strategic alliances, then do some follow-up research – did it end up going anywhere? Things not to do? Rely solely on Glassdoor
+ More Savvy Career Shopping If you find red flags, raise them during the interview, and pay attention to both the words and body language when the interviewers are responding Hiring Managers often ask candidates about their best and worst boss to gain insights into what motivates and demotivates them — Flip it: Ask a similar question of the Hiring Manager (re: best/worst employees) Read software reviews for good/bad product features; follow company’s social media feeds to see how they respond to customer and developer requests