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Attention Developers! Start Designing Your Career Like Your Software


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Software development is an attractive career prospect for young people today. With strong earning potential and varied job options intrinsic to this discipline, there's plenty of reason to consider software development as a profession.

This is why, from 2020 to 2030, the employment of software developers is expected to rise by 22%. That is a substantial increase compared with other careers.

The problem for many software developers; however, relates to the direction their career takes. With so many options available, so many avenues to explore, it shouldn't come as a total shock that many developers feel a bit lost.

Yet, there's plenty of reason to feel optimistic.

By starting to think about your career like you think about designing software, you can take measured steps in the right direction. This is about identifying your career goals and planning out a path to fulfill them.

Why Are Developers Struggling?

We're forever hearing that software developers are in demand throughout the United States. It's also widely known that software developers stand to earn salaries in excess of $100,000 - and that's for relative juniors in the field.

If that's the case, why are software developers struggling to forge a path ahead with their careers?

It's a good question, and it partly relates to the multi-disciplined nature of software development.

Think about the options a fledgling software developer has in front of them. They could get involved in any of the following disciplines:

  • Web Development
  • SEO Marketing
  • Mobile Development
  • Data Science
  • Back-end Development
  • App Development
  • AI Development
  • Cloud Computing
There's plenty to think about, clearly, and remember - this is just a selection of the paths devs-to-be might want to consider. Unfortunately, many developers don't think deeply enough about these choices. Picking a career path shouldn't be like choosing an option through an interactive voice response (IVR) system!
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Immediately, then, there are problems. Even so, it's not only the area of software development that people struggle with.

Of all the industries out there, software development is amongst the fastest moving. To keep ahead of the curve, to retain your place at the forefront of the industry, you need to keep training, keep studying, and keep developing.

Organizations value employee development, both for their existing workforce and for prospective employees. It's what's needed to keep standards up, to ensure that the business continues to break into new territory.

The issue is that many software developers are behaving too passively in this regard. For many, the expectation is that their career will simply "click". Rather than disrupting new fields or actively assessing their position, there's an expectation that opportunities will appear naturally.

Of course, for the average software developer, that isn't likely to happen. You need to take decisive action to reach your goals. Strangely, the majority of software developers fail to realize that they already have the tools required to set themselves up for a lucrative and successful future.

Understanding your existing skillset can benefit the development of your career more effectively than you ever would have imagined.

Designing Excellent Software

As mentioned before, software development is a diverse field. Nevertheless, there are design principles and behaviors that are encouraged across these disciplines. You can apply these to help develop your career.

Experts agree that the most important software design process is the phase of software development.

It's the point at which you can lay out the requirements of the software, planning ahead with clarity and clearheadedness. You surely know that with any type of software, surprises are likely to crop up. Yet, by thinking with foresight and preparing for the future, you can navigate these difficulties with ease.

Just as the requirements for software development change consistently, so does the industry landscape.  

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Take an example.

Over the last couple of years, it's become necessary for many businesses to implement platforms for conference calling online. The pandemic has caused a shift, requiring more people to work from home. Even as that situation winds down, a greater number of people are choosing to clock on remotely.

This has caused a major upturn in the development of video conferencing software. Developers aren't only trying to come up with reliable platforms that work efficiently, either. They're seeking solutions for Zoom fatigue - where physical and mental exhaustion results from extended screen use.

New situations, new problems, new solutions. This is just one example, but the point is clear - software development needs and expectations can change rapidly.

Flexibility and dynamism are your friends here, and the same is true for building a successful career in software development. By using some of the following tips and principles, you can firmly establish yourself in the field of your choice.

Designing a Career for Software Developers

There are challenges for software developers, then, that's clear.

But if you're worried about the state of your software development career, there's no need to panic. You can take some simple steps to get moving in the right direction.

Notably, this is possible using only the skills you've assembled in software development.

Reflect on Your Current Role

Before you make any major decisions about what you might like to do with your career moving forward, it's a good idea to look at how you're doing right now. Examining your current position can help you feel out the possibilities. What good is a map if you don't know your current position?

With software design, you must look at the current state of things before making further choices. You look at what works well and what is less effective with existing software. The same thinking can apply to your career.

This is partly about your happiness with your current role, and how challenged you feel by your day-to-day activities. However, it's also about assessing your existing skillset. As more and more businesses press ahead with new software packages and disciplines, it becomes clear that you need to take steps to keep up.

The types of testing and development education that are required for a specific area of software development change considerably over time. It might be time to learn some new skills, brush up on your fundamentals, or consider a new role within your organization.


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Consider Your Strategic Career Goals

When it comes to designing a successful career, strategic career goals are fundamentally important.

Strategic career goals are what help you to understand where you want your career to go. Setting out strategic career goals should give you a firm understanding of where you should be in a couple of years, in five years, or even ten years down the line.

It's worth noting that these strategic career goals aren't just about giving yourself direction. They also help you to monitor your progress, keeping you from losing your way. If you think of your career as a piece of software, you're basically thinking about the fundamentals. The "must-have" features for the future.

These career goals can be split into different categories, such as job goals (reaching a specific position or working for a more prestigious company), technical goals (Learning about new technologies or languages), and management goals (mentoring or teach someone in your organization, giving yourself management experience).

It's probably tempting to think of these goals as separate entities. Even so, with a little analysis, it's clear that connections exist.

Let's look at an example.

If you specialize in the development of robotic process automation technologies, that's a huge technical accomplishment. You could use these skills to help a business with a digital transformation acceleration RPA rollout. That achievement could lead to a promotion, possibly with management responsibilities.

What's the takeaway from this? By fulfilling certain strategic career goals, you can make progress with other objectives. 

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Learn to Be Decisive

It doesn't take a lot for a software development project to begin to head in the wrong direction. Without actively assessing the direction of a development process, you can quickly find you have software that doesn't match up with the proposed digital CX. When that happens, it results in angry, disillusioned customers.

All that could have been prevented with some decisiveness earlier on. With software development, you have to keep your hands on the steering wheel. The same is true when it comes to your career path.

Closely related to your career goals, this attitude ensures that you don't act passively as you move ahead. It's easy to let the little things slip by, and before you know it, you're nowhere near where you intended.

Software quality directly relates to happiness and career satisfaction. Since your technical proficiency will ultimately determine career success, this is a big deal.

There's nothing wrong with pivoting away from your current discipline into something new. Yes, it will require longer for you to reach your broader career goals, but it'll be worth it. For this to be effective, you need to carefully evaluate the requirements of your proposed change. Consider the skills that you'll need to learn and then plan meticulously.

The prospect of treading employment water is especially dangerous for software developers. It's a fast-moving, dynamic industry. If you want to reach your professional goals, you cannot afford to let matters pass you by.

Completed: Designing Successful Developer Careers

With its multi-disciplinary nature and ever-changing technological and educational requirements, software development can be a challenging landscape to work in.

By acting with foresight and through honest self-assessment, a wonderful software career awaits you.

The happiest and most fulfilled developers apply their software development skills to build a better career. With this knowledge, now you can do the same.



Grace Lau - Director of Growth Content, Dialpad

Grace Lau 

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform and cloud business phone service for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.

Published Tuesday, October 12, 2021 7:37 AM by David Marshall
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