fighting the lack of good ideas

technical career development

Career development. Career path. Development opportunities. Taking your career to the next level.

Terms and phrases we all hear and pretty much pass over in our day-to-day lives. Right up until we want to move to a new/better job or performance reviews roll around.

But what do they mean, and how can you advance your career (presuming, of course, that you want to)?

This is by no means an exhaustive list – indeed, I’d appreciate any other ideas / feedback / improvements y’all may suggest 🙂

For a software developer:

  • be the documentation KING of your code – if it’s not right, make it right
  • own every bug in your code – even when it’s not “yours”
  • be The Guy™ who learns a new component of the code/product (at least conversationally) every few weeks
  • write at least one tutorial a month on the internal wiki/kb about something you found or did with the code
  • write at least one tutorial or similar a month externally (maybe a personal blog) in a general fashion about something you learned or did

For a systems consultant:

  • be the documentation KING of every project you work on – make ABSOLUTELY sure the next guy can do more after you leave
  • own every issue you find, even when it’s really somebody else’s problem (no throwing it over the fence)
  • the The Guy™ who learns something new about the environment or product every couple weeks
  • write at least one tutorial a month and/or give an overview talk of something you learned/did
  • write about what you’ve done (changing names to protect the innocent) on a blog or elsewhere
  • teach as many people as are willing to learn what you know (in your company / on your team / etc)

Focus – decide where you want to be, and plot a course to get there.

Finally, NEVER make yourself “irreplaceable” – the instant you make yourself irreplaceable, you also make yourself unpromotable: after all, if you’re the Only Guy™ who can do your job, why would your boss/manager/supervisor even think of moving you into a new role?

As a side note – if you’re ever working at a customer site, don’t take calls from anyone other than the customer while you’re at your desk/cube/workspace: even if it’s project related, take it in a different room 🙂