Career development refers to how you design and move along your career path. This might include honing your skills to move up the career ladder but also to find a context in which you face challenges that you feel are important.
Sometimes you need to abstract yourself from your daily routine and make a retrospective of your current position. Are you comfortable with your current position? Is your job compatible with your growth expectations?
When you spot that something must change, you must clarify your objectives and take important decisions about where to go next.
Interestingly, we can explain career development using a model similar to one we would use in software design.
First of all, you need to develop a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Then you need to assess the current state of your application/code. At the end, you can plan what you need to refactor and what you need to create to realize your new version.
You can improve and plan your career evolution in quite the same way, no matter the stage your career is at:
- A beginner who is learning from scratch
- A professional developer whose aim is to cultivate professional skills and be promoted to higher paying jobs
- Building a career in software development
- Why is it essential to think about a career as a developer?
- What do I need to ask myself about my current role?
- Do I really need to get a new job?
- How can I find reliable information about companies?
- Is what I learned at university what I truly need for a job?
Building a career in software development
As technology continues to advance, so grows the need for software development and ICT experts. There is an enormous demand for individuals who have up-to-date skills in these fields.
This is the perfect moment for people having tech skills to think about what they want to reach in their work and find a job position able to support their growth.
To find the right position, developers need to have the correct information about reliable organizations they can turn to.
We, at Codemotion, have recently partnered with Umana S.p.A.to guide developers to build their career path and support them to reach the next level in their work objectives.
Founded back in 1997, Umana is an employment agency with over 140 branches and thousands of ICT companies among their customers, thanks to its ICT specialists Business Unit.
Umana also organizes over seventy tech courses a year worth 240 hours to help young and talented engineers gain new skills that are in-target with the market’s demand. What is important to note is that after taking part in these courses, 80% of trainees can find employment.
Am I a developer?
This all sounds pretty nice. But how do you know if it is what you really want? Or, how do you find the specific field that suits your abilities?
In fact, the term “developer” encompasses quite a few job types, including but not limited to, software developers, web developers, computer system analysts and software development team lead.
The term “developer” does not define what kind of work you do, or aspire to do, and what are the things that make you feel great about it.
Even as a professional, have you ever asked yourself if you are a PHP Ninja developer or a J2EE Professional? Or, do you prefer to build innovative web apps from scratch or work in big enterprise projects with thousands of users? Are you interested in creating the best code ever or design software architecture that someone else implements?
The answer to those questions changes in time: what you like today can differ from what you’ll feel right tomorrow.
Therefore it is fundamental, as a first step, that you define your current interests, what you like about your current developer job, and what you don’t like. What you want to empower and what instead to put aside. Don’t miss inserting in those evaluations also your interests, hobbies, and lifestyle.
Why is it essential to think about a career as a developer?
As human beings, we feel a sense of accomplishment when we challenge ourselves on problems we feel relevant; and we like to win challenges.
Which challenges you can take on you depends on your role, position and expertise, but also on the project you work on. Sometimes it depends on the company you work in. Consider also that what was a challenge for you yesterday may not apply to you today.
Work contexts change too. Think about that groundbreaking technology project you’ve been working on for more than a year. Are there any stunning features you have developed in the last months or are you working on application maintenance?
Not to mention the ever changing technology! Think about Android mobile development: Java? Kotlin? Flutter?
Sometimes you need to stop and think about what changed in your current context, to plan where you want to be tomorrow to feel comfortable.
Is what I’m doing what I want to do today and tomorrow?
Figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life requires sitting down and doing a bit of soul-searching.
Specialized recruitment agencies are a good place to get career advice and mentorship and discuss your track record in tech development.
Do my challenges from two years back still represent a challenge?
If you feel way too comfortable in your role and your daily job never poses a real challenge to you, it may cause you a lack of motivation. When you have that little sweat drop on your forehead, it means that you are going to learn something new. That’s good! That’s progress.
Expert advice is to think about what “progress” means to you. In fact, there is not one answer to this question. To some people “progress” means diving deeper inside some technology they already master, to become a true tech savvy. For some others it means learning new frameworks, languages, patterns, architectures and so on.
But for others, progress doesn’t have to do with technology: how many people I’m managing? How big is the impact in the project’s world I’m working on? How much time will I spend with my newly born child?
Every one of those answers is the right one. Find the one that is right for you.
What do I need to ask myself about my current role?
It is good practice to reflect on your current role. Thanks to this introspection, you can determine if your future in an organization is what you feel you deserve.
Taking a few steps back to think helps you decide if you are at a stage to learn some new technical skills or change the role you have inside an organization. Asking yourself these sorts of questions may give you the right nudge towards your future.
Umana’s ICT recruiters have been dealing with developers who were looking for a new job long enough to develop a set of questions that can guide you through this retrospective.
We have listed the following questions based on their experience and reflect some of the most common questions developers ask when thinking about their career.
Which is the future of the project / job I’m currently working on?
When thinking about your current role, you really need to look at the future of said job or project. While in themselves, projects have a stipulated end date, you will need to consider how your context will develop.
There will be new projects to work on? Will they use the same technology as before or a new one? Will I be working on application maintenance or improvements?
Does this future match with the one I had figured out for me?
Keeping in mind the fast pace at which technology is changing, as well as the deadlines which are set for projects, you need to sit down and think about how this career fits in with your life plan.
Perhaps the tasks you are working on are not intended to change for a while, but what about you? Are your skills grown so far that you don’t find any challenge in what you are doing today? Do you feel you are ready for something more?
Can I empower my tech skills while in my current position?
Developers always need to be up to date. This means learning new programming languages and technologies. In some cases, it means dealing with more complex problems inside the technology you already master. Some others move towards architecture design or people management.
When you decide which one is your currently preferred direction, you will evaluate if your context can sustain your need for change.
Can I manage people in the future?
There is a possibility that your employer will ask you to manage people throughout your career based on your performance as a developer. In fact, working in development does not mean that you’ll be stuck coding behind a computer forever.
As technology evolves, it fuels changes in the business environment, leading to organizational structure changes. While your tasks so far may have been solely related to projects, you may soon have the feeling of being ready to become a team leader.
If you aspire to be a leader one day, think if your current position can support this expectation. How many developers does your organization have? Is it fast growing or stable? Are the people you report to available to support your growth?
Will I work on relevant projects?
When thinking about your work, you need to think also about what applies to you. Are you motivated because your project uses innovative technology? Or because your projects help solve planet sustainability problems? Are you excited thinking that your code is in use by millions of people? Are you proud of the fact that your app won the best price?
A good idea might be to have a look at which areas you would like to develop and make this known to your team manager. They should then be able to assign you the right projects that are in line with your developmental needs.
If this can’t be done, consider finding a different place.
How often do I need to think about my career?
There is no exact measure of when a person needs to think about the route his or her career is taking.
However, it is essential to reflect on how your career is growing and if you are satisfied with its direction. It is crucial to reflect on this when you are not feeling annoyed with your current employer to avoid making rash decisions.
Another tip is: don’t search for a new job every few months, at least if you have relevant problems. Be sure to spend time to analyse the pros and cons of your current position. Remember that you need years to become a master in something, so don’t change your mind too often.
Do I really need to get a new job?
This is the hardest one. The decision to either get a new job or stay in your current position only comes from introspection. Ask yourself if you are working in an environment which promotes professional development. Some characteristics that show you need to make a change are:
- Constant frustration at work. While most people complain once in a while about their workload or timetable, when this becomes constant, it is a sure sign that something needs to change.
- When you think of the future and aren’t thrilled by the idea of it, it is a great start to think of better options. When your future does not seem bright, or feel there are no exciting opportunities coming your way, you are in the wrong career.
How many companies can I reach by applying for vacancies?
When looking for a new role, it is advisable to apply to several companies that are looking for applicants for the job you desire. Doing this might cause being called in for more interviews than if you applied for only one job.
But rather than applying to every vacancy you like, with the risk of confusing the positions or getting tired and frustrated by the lack of details, contacting a specialized recruitment company not only is an easier option but can increase the number of companies that actually get to see your profile.
When you do an interview with a specialized IT recruiter, your profile is presented to companies enhancing those characteristics that are difficult to spot on a CV.
Last but not least, recruiters that speak every day with IT companies know about the projects they are working on. Thus they can anticipate their needs and propose your profile even where there is not an active vacancy (yet).
Your CV should fit in with the recruitment guidelines outlined in the vacancy post. Usually, expert IT recruiters do this for you when sending your profile to companies to highlight what is more relevant for their job position and company values.
How do I know the company I apply for is right for me?
Most of us spend a lot of time at work and need to feel comfortable in our workplace.
It is fundamental that you share values with the company you will work for. Often one or two interviews are not enough to evaluate this aspect.
But how can you gather information about company values and accountability before accepting a job?
Some information can be gathered online, on websites like Glassdoor. Nonetheless, those reviews are not always accountable.
How can I find reliable information about companies?
If you have been a developer for long, or are just starting out in your developer career, you need to be sure you have the right information before accepting a job.
When you speak with an IT recruiter about a company, you are speaking with someone that knows that company.
The recruiter can explain to you a company’s values, and how employees feel there because it is not unusual for recruiters to do post-hiring interviews to better rate companies.
This aspect definitely represents an added value when approaching a job offer for the first time.
If you don’t want to rely exclusively on what an IT recruiter tells you, to find reliable information about companies your first port of call should be the company’s website. The webpage is a good way to judge how the company presents itself to the world.
That is just a starting point, of course. Your best option is to look within your circle of friends and connections to find out if anyone you know works – or has worked – at that company and hear what they have to say about the work environment.
Is what I learned at university what I truly need for a job?
This is a hard question. While studying at university is a good way to learn a lot about a specific subject, there is no guarantee that you will find a job as soon as you graduate.
Many areas require post-graduate training and specialization, especially for those who want to further their career.
Moreover, nowadays there are countless courses available in training centres and online, and some can be combined with working on your developer career.
Umana ICT Academies are free training courses where participants get specifically trained to learn or improve both their technical and soft skills. Topics are proposed each year according to local demand to make sure candidates truly meet companies’ needs.
It’s clear that knowing the time’s right to change a job is up to you. Whether you are unhappy with your current company or love it but feel the need to try something else to keep growing, it depends on you.
Finding your next job is a matter of having access to the right information and network. ICT recruiters like Umana and the likes can be more helpful than you might expect.
It turns out that IT recruiters have privileged access to many HR Managers of all-size companies, and can even help you train in advance to bridge any knowledge gap that you might have for a job role.
If you are curious to know more, check out our partners’ web page and see what opportunities they can offer to developers.