Top professional development tips for programmers

Developers and engineers may be in high demand in the UK but that’s not to say that competition for roles isn’t tough.

Don’t miss these top developer jobs.

The most lucrative roles will require candidates who can balance excellent technical ability with a number of soft skills.

This is particularly prevalent as AI and machine learning begin to replace more elements of work and the qualities and attributes that are uniquely human, such as communication and passion, are more sought after.

After all, there is more to being a good developer than just coding. If you really want to excel in the industry there’s a number of ways you can deepen your knowledge and make yourself more employable in the process.

10 top developer roles up for grabs.

Work in a startup

Work in a startup

Startup land isn’t for everyone. If your priority is work-life balance and a top salary, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

That said, a startup environment is an amazing place for developers to work autonomously and get a sense of the impact each product decision or update is having on the wider business.

It’s often the case that engineers will have to change direction and rework their priorities on short notice, so it’s certainly a great way to build resilience, as well as your communication skills.

Also, if you have designs on launching your own business one day, the experience gained from working in a startup is priceless.

Build a portfolio

Build a portfolio

One common mistake that developers make when applying for new jobs is that they talk broadly about their skills and experience but never get granular about the types of projects they’ve worked on.

It’s important to have a body of work that you can show potential employers who want to get a feel for your achievements to date. List the projects you worked on both solo and as part of a team.

Then, breakdown the impact you had and the responsibilities you assumed in each one. Aside from making job application more efficient, having a portfolio is a good way to keep track of your personal progression too.

Network

Network

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire professionally.

They may be within your company, in a similar role at a competing company, or in a different sector altogether - if you think you have shared interests and could benefit from a chat, get in touch.

Most people will be flattered to be approached, and relish the opportunity to discuss the great things they’re doing in their career. If you feel that’s too bold, ask someone on your own team to introduce you to some of their network or contacts. Personal branding is key!

Find a mentor

Find a mentor

Having a strong mentor in your industry is a great way to accelerate your learning. Your mentor can offer you valuable insights about the company or role that can only come from vast experience of working in a similar position.

They can provide you with guidance and an educated perspective when it comes to making important career decisions. As a result, you’re more informed in your choices and can often feel more confident in your role as a whole.

Get social

Get social

Building an online presence isn’t always top of mind for developers but it can be extremely useful in getting your name out there to the tech community. Facebook and LinkedIn groups can be a great way to learn from your peers, get advice from people in similar roles and discover new career opportunities.

Engaging in conversations online can be less daunting than approaching someone in person, so if you are having reservations about offline networking, social media can be a good place to start.

Work on your timekeeping

Work on your timekeeping

A large part of being a successful developer is having good working relationships with colleagues and clients.

Adhering to deadlines and exceeding expectations is an important element of that, especially if you’re seeking work on a freelance or project-by-project basis.

Be mindful of other people’s workloads and be sure that you’re not being dismissive of their requirements or objectives.

Seek out educational opportunities

Seek out educational opportunities

To stay sharp you need to be continuously learning and keeping on top of industry developments. New technologies, systems and languages are constantly emerging, bringing continued changes and improvements to how we work.

Programmers can’t grow complacent if they want to remain competitive, they need to educate themselves through reading relevant materials and attending events.

Focus on people

Focus on people

There’s a misconception that working in tech or product is some kind of solitary occupation, devoid of much communication or teamwork.

This isn’t the case. A strong aptitude for dealing with people can be a great asset for any ambitious developer.

For one, it means you’ll enjoy a more harmonious work environment if you can get on well with your colleagues. Aside from that it puts you in good stead to take on a more managerial role if you’re able to effectively communicate with coworkers and clients.

The ability to understand different perspectives and empathise with them is an important trait to have, don’t undervalue it.

Code outside of work

Code outside of work

One great way to really evolve your skill set is to pursue passion projects outside of work.

Getting stuck in to open source projects on sites like GitHub and collaborating with different programmers at different stages of their career keeps your code sharp and ensures you’re always learning.

Be humble

Be humble

Regardless of how talented you are, do your best to keep your ego in check. Nobody wants to work with someone who feels like they’re above the team or isn’t open to sharing their knowledge or experience.

Be gracious when it comes to any feedback and critique of your code, as this will be crucial in accelerating your abilities.

Challenge yourself

Challenge yourself

Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone makes you more productive, more creative and more resilient. Put yourself forward to lead a project, contribute a new idea at a meeting or offer feedback to a colleague or manager.

Research the latest mobile technologies or programming language and watch out for any upcoming classes you can attend. Employers may even be open to footing the bill if you can show how your development can benefit the company.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.