Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my career and where it’s going. I don’t want to give the impression that I have never thought about my career before, but now the thoughts are becoming constant.
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my career and where it’s going. I don’t want to give the impression that I have never thought about my career before, but now the thoughts are becoming constant. The most common questions I have for myself are:
● Am I performing the correct actions to advance?
● What is important to me at this point in time?
● What makes me attractive to potential clients or employers?
Although success is objective and different for everyone, I have developed three things I deem to be the most important to me at this time. I refer to them as my career trifecta. The three elements are job title, compensation, and competence. In the coming paragraphs, I will elaborate their importance from my perspective.
From a resume perspective a job title can be very instrumental in career development. Assuming a recruiting professional is looking at a resume or a LinkedIn profile, he or she should see a linear progression upward which demonstrates that the individual is capable of growth and they were a great asset to the teams they were part of. In my personal opinion, having the same role for, let’s say ten years, may conclude that a person either has reached a peak or they’ve become complacent. This may not be true; however, from the view of a resume, perception is truly the reality.
The following is a side note, but should also be said. If a person has not had much exposure to upward mobility in their career, working for a well-known company can do great things for their resume as well. For example I am a software engineer, so if I ever work for a company like Twitter, Facebook, or SnapChat everyone assumes that I must be good at what I do. Name recognition of an employer can add a prestigious element to a career.
You may be asking yourself what does compensation have to do with my career path. In my experience, companies will only pay so much for a particular role. This happens for many reasons, but the only reason that concerns me is the service I provide can only yield so much return. With that being said I have to ask myself, how can I add more value to increase my salary? Lastly, if your salary has not increased, are you not continuing to add value or do you need to take a step up in your career? It is very common to reach a ceiling, but it is up to you to stay or to move up. Hopefully this transition can happen at your current employer, but if not it may be time to look elsewhere.
Learning is the most important thing in my opinion. As an employee I am only as good as the work I can produce, so what am I doing to improve output? Self-improvement does not always have to come in the form of the technical portion of a particular profession. As I love to “crunch code” it is very important that I continue to improve on my soft skills. Demonstrating strong interpersonal skills is often the difference between career advancement and a stagnant career.
In conclusion I believe that every employer should be providing at least two of the three elements. When more than one of these items are missing, I feel discouraged and stuck. Whenever I feel stuck, I am no longer inspired or motivated to do or be better.
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There is one, and only one, primary focus that any software developer acknowledge: the ability for software to be maintainable. Of course, correctness, functionality, and performance are all important, these will always be easier to address with maintainable software.