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Cracking the Code - A Developers Guide to their Dream Job

Cracking the Code - A Developers Guide to their Dream Job

If you’re a software developer and you’re not 100% in love with your job, the first thing you need to ask yourself is why are you still working there? There are literally more positions available for people like us than there are people to fill them. How many recruiters have reached out to you in the past month, again? Exactly.

Fortunately, changing your position doesn’t have to mean changing your mindset (or even your employer). Just approach the process like a software developer and solve the problem as you would any new development project, almost all the same rules apply.

1. Perform a discovery audit - on yourself.

If this were a software exercise, you’d start by gathering everything there is to know about the product. In this scenario, the product is you. So what do you have to offer? More importantly, what are you looking for?

We’ll presume you have four or five years of marketable experience with one or two companies, and that you know the kind of work you prefer (nonprofit, logistics, business intelligence, whatever). What part of the world would you like to live in? What type of company would you like to associate with, or even what you hope to get out of next job, whether that’s experience, enjoyment, or just a big fat paycheck.

With this level of detail about yourself, you’re ready for the next step.

2. Breakout your core functionality into boxes.

Think about your job in functional terms. Try to imagine the perfect position for you, and isolate each aspect using boxes: Practical (money, location, skills match), Possible (career advancement, opportunity, challenge), Personal (mood, vibe, heart and soul concerns), Pace (fast or slow, large or small, intense or comfortable) and Performance (what you hope to achieve, contribute, create or inspire). Then, list all the attributes that fit with each category.

Keep it simple, short, and top line, using single words or bullet points. The idea is to categorize all the things you’re looking for in this next stage of your career in a way that you can activate.

3. Choose the best method for the desired result.

You wouldn’t start coding a new project without preparation. But when you click a link on a job board and randomly submit a resume, that’s effectively what you’re doing.

Go back to your product boxes. Identify patterns. Isolate pitfalls. Ask yourself: what kind of culture would create this kind of position? Does this sound like other experiences I’ve had, or is this vision nothing at all like them? Am I ready for this role? Do I need an employer who’s willing to take a leap of faith? Using that information, jot down any employers or product names that come to mind. Then seek out employers who fit the bill.

4. Identify the most important features for your audience - then optimize them.

Imagine yourself in the employer’s shoes. What are the best attributes a developer needs to be successful in this particular job (and is that me)?

Is this a task that relies on repetition, or creativity? Does the position require strategic thinking, leadership, teamwork? What’s the life cycle of the product—will I get bored? Is this a competitive environment, fixated on goals and motivated by timelines? Are individual contributions valued more than a set of fingers on a keyboard?

Based on your boxes, are you remotely right for the kind of tasks, pace, culture and commitment they’ve established?  If so, proceed.

5. Understand where you fit in the product lifecycle.

Smart developers never really stop thinking about their career. Just like legacy code, every position you have had or ever will have is connected through you. Those skills acquired are transferred into the next position. The experience you hope to gain is the next evolution, revamp, upgrade. And the work you’re doing now—even by evaluating where you are in the process—is critical to the success of all future steps.

Just think of it as “long-term maintenance”.

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About the author

Imre has been managing software development operations since 2001, and has been instrumental in building Small Footprint's Development Center in Cluj from the ground up. With both technology and business acumen, Imre received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the Polytechnic University of Cluj in Economical Engineering. In his role as Offshore Operations Director, Imre ensures smooth operations and growth of the Development Center, managing recruitment and retention, ensuring maximum productivity and employee satisfaction, and closely monitoring corporate security as well as the bottom line. Before Small Footprint, Imre was Managing Director of Arcabel Software, a German-owned software development company.

In his free time and especially when the weather is nice, Imre loves to ride his motorcycle, a Yamaha TT600. He also enjoys spending time with his wife -- a kindergarten principal -- and his three children.

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