Moving ahead in software development

Software Development is an exciting job; yet it is important that you are not stuck in a rut at any stage in your career.

The first thing to realise is that you are responsible and should be in control of your career, and no-one else. With this in mind, you need to ask yourself what your life and career goals are, to ensure that every step you make is another step in the journey towards achieving these goals.

You will also need to understand which skills will be required at different stages of your career, to ensure that you are acquiring these skills.

Being a great software developer who will make good progress in her or his career is much more than just knowing your stuff. While expertise in your domain will help you reach a certain level, there are other skills you will have to rely on to go beyond this.

You need to understand that software is written by people, for people, even if you may feel more at ease working alone on your machine. You will need to learn to listen to people more;  to teammates, to customers, to users.

Listening is a soft skill which, like other skills, can be acquired if you don’t already have it. It is also about being able to know when you are right and making your point in a non-confrontational way. It is about being able to realise when others have a point and accepting this, or being able to come up with a good compromise.

If you don’t already do so, you will need to become more and more accustomed to working and managing projects and people across time-zones, and being open to new cultures.

Learn to make connections, even if these are not face to face. Join LinkedIn groups, create your own blog.

You will also need to understand that software isn’t just lines of code and that it plays a larger role in the world outside your office. Being able to see the role of your software from the eyes of users and business people will help you move up the ladder faster.

It is also useful to understand concepts in finance, marketing, operations, which have an effect and are affected by software. ROI, Buyer Journeys, CRO, User Testing, and similar concepts are often the ideas which drive people from other teams, so it is important to understand these when making decisions.

While expertise is important and keeping abreast of your domain is essential, becoming a jack of all trades helps you remain relevant and move ahead in your career. Being easily adaptable is probably the most important thing you will have to learn.

Understand what makes you tick and identify companies with a culture you will thrive in. Avoid those that stifle you.

And believing in yourself will help you deal with the unease of leaving your comfort zone.