Learn how to build the skillsets that companies are really after, so you can find your dream job in the IT industry and keep pace with the evolving software development industry.
The software development industry is a fast-moving one. Many people who get involved with software development do so because they love tech and they find open-source projects exciting. With luck, they find dev jobs that let them work on projects that they’re truly enthusiastic about. Staying relevant and up to date, however, can be a challenge. Here, we share some tips to keep your career development on track.
See What The Industry is Looking For
One common mistake mid-career developers make is letting themselves get out of the loop. Once you’re comfortable in a job it’s all too easy to become focused on the languages, stack, and tools used in that job, and lose sight of what’s happening in the real world.
Developers who fall into that trap get a nasty surprise when they discover their stack of choice is considered outdated, and their programming language or database skills are no longer in demand. They’re left with the choice of frantically reskilling, or looking for jobs maintaining out-of-date codebases.
To ensure you’re always up to date with the latest trends and know what to focus on for your career development, keep an eye on job sites and databases. Subscribe to updates from platforms like Adecco so you always know what skills are in demand. Who knows, your perfect job opportunity could land in your inbox one day.
Learn Trending Languages
If you trained as a developer a few decades ago, you might be more familiar with C++, Pascal, or even Visual Basic. These languages are still in use, and there’s even still demand for COBOL and FORTRAN in certain legacy business spaces. However, the list of fashionable languages changes regularly.
Haskell is popular in certain enterprise spaces and has gained some popularity thanks to it being adopted by the Cardano cryptocurrency. Rust is being used for many projects today thanks to its memory-safe properties. There’s also demand for people who know Go and Ruby.
Reskilling isn’t as hard as learning your very first language. A good programmer should be able to transition from one language to another reasonably quickly. Adding new, in-demand languages to your list of skills means you’ll be ready to apply for a new job when the opportunity arises.
Join a Community
The tech space is full of communities where developers share ideas. Many tools and libraries have their own Telegram chat channels where experienced devs help beginners.
Mastodon, the free, open-source and federated alternative to Twitter, has several servers that are focused on Open Source software and development. Networking on platforms like these can be one of the best time investments you’ll make in terms of furthering your career development.
In the real world, you may find some useful contacts at local Meetup groups or Maker Spaces. This is a chance to meet like-minded people in your local area and find out about the really exciting projects that are going on.
New Soft Skills: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
There’s a lot of exciting work going on outside of simple programming. If you’re a web developer who came up on the LAMP stack and knows how to make single-server applications, take a look at the cloud and microservices.
If you’re someone who focuses on desktop apps and you want to branch out into a field that’s more exciting and dynamic, look at the latest trends in big data. Or, take your python scripting skills and experiment with machine learning.
There are some stunningly powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use libraries available for free. Today, a reasonably skilled programmer can take a Coursera Guided Project and make a few of their own tweaks to put together an impressive tech demo that would have been the stuff of research projects just a decade ago.
Spend your time learning those new skills, and who knows what careers will open up for you. Adecco’s Academy offers Italian developers the chance to learn new technologies and skills such as project management and agile methodology.
Let’s not forget the true soft skills. Communication, leadership, and even customer service are all invaluable for developers. A developer that can answer a support ticket and leave a customer smiling, or who is confident in front of a crowd to speak at a conference is far more likely to get a job at a start-up than someone who is good at coding but that the company wouldn’t want representing their brand.
Watch Other Devs Work
Learning the syntax of a programming language is an academic skill, but learning how to approach problems and code effectively is part science and part art form. Watching more experienced developers at work can be helpful.
There are many free webinars available, along with Hackathons, events such as Google’s Summer of Code, and weekend-long Game Jams where people choose a project and try to put together a working prototype in a short time frame.
Watching people working on these projects can be highly educational. There’s also the option of joining in with the project to get some hands-on skills (and portfolio credits) yourself.
Subscribe to some podcasts produced by developers who work in the fields you’re interested in. They’ll often include coding tips that could help you improve your skills.
If you do take on some small projects or join a team, make sure you share your code on Github or a similar platform. Even if you’re not proud of the code as it stands, prospective employers will appreciate being able to see how you think and see how your code has progressed over the last couple of years. If you’re committed to constantly learning and improving, then this will show in the quality of your code and the comments.
Join Open Code Projects
Whether you’re interested in blockchain, the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement, gaming, open government, or almost any other niche, there’s no shortage of open code projects to get involved with. The Free Software Foundation is a good place to meet with others who are passionate about open source development.
Junior developers can contribute to small projects and fix simple issues, or get involved with a larger project such as Debian or Ubuntu to get mentorship from more experienced developers.
Senior devs can hone their skills and potentially make money in the process by fixing bug bounties. Many open-source projects have corporate software houses backing them, meaning prolific contributors have the chance to get a job via their contributions.
Even if you’re just contributing for fun, learning to use Git and other popular versioning and collaboration tools could be beneficial for future job applications.
Have an Open-Minded Approach
The software development industry has changed a lot over the last ten years. While there is still value in being hyper-specialized, flexibility is also useful. The philosophy of “move fast and break things” has gained popularity in many companies.
Today, new stacks, toolsets and development methodologies are constantly being created and adopted. It wouldn’t be possible for a developer to learn every new tool that comes out, and not all new tools are suitable for every project.
However, being aware of those tools and being able to converse fluently about their pros and cons is an asset.
A good developer is one who has an open mind and a willingness to learn, while still having the critical thinking skills to make smart decisions about how to approach a task. If you make an effort to stay current and pursue the trends that interest you, your portfolio will be much better off for it.