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Episode Info:

Hi and welcome back to Weekly Dev Tips. I’m your host Steve Smith, aka Ardalis.

This is episode 48 on Effective Ways to Accelerate Your Career, with guest James Hickey.

Effective Ways to Accelerate Your Career

This week's tip is brought to you by devBetter.com.

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Show Notes / Transcript

This week's tip is brought to you by guest James Hickey. James is a software developer working remotely in eastern Canada. James helps software developers gain traction in their careers with his free email newsletter, "Navigating Your Software Development Career", which I link to in the show notes. He's also the author of an open source .NET Core library called Coravel, which provides advanced capabilities to web applications. James is going to share some tips on accelerating your career. Welcome to Weekly Dev Tips, James!

Hi! I'm James Hickey.

I'm a senior .NET developer and consultant based in eastern Canada. I'm also the author of an open source .NET Core library you might be familiar with called Coravel.

One of the big realizations I had early on in my career was that doing a good job and doing what I was told to do would actually not lead to:

Promotions, recognition, becoming really skilled at my craft, and opening up more opportunities.

Many developers find themselves comfortable with having an easy and carefree job with minimal responsibilities.

Other developers, like myself, have an inner drive, ambition, and passion to be the best that we can be.

We recognize that having options means we can support our families better, have more money and resources to help our friends when in need, have the ability to create new businesses that solve important problems in our world, and know that we can inspire others to conquer obstacles in their own lives.

Are you one of these developers?

Here are some tips for you to accelerate a bit faster in your career!

Find Gaps

Here's my first tip.

Early in my own career, there were times when I would solve a problem and developers who were more senior than I would ask, "How did you that?"

One example was when I worked on a large database migration project. My colleagues were building various scripts that could take days to run.

When I started building my own scripts, I started using regular expressions in SQL to fetch certain patterns in the data, manipulate it and then store the results. My solutions were taking mere hours to run!

I became known as the guy who could migrate these large data sets very well. The senior developers would start coming to me for advice whenever they needed help in this area.

Have you ever solved a problem and then been asked questions like these?

  • "How did you do that?"
  • "What did you do there?"
  • "Why did you do that?"

This probably indicates that you've found a knowledge or skills gap in your team. You should jump all over that topic and become the "go to" person.

You might think that being known as the "regular expression guy" is not that useful.

But that's not what people will think.

In reality, you will be viewed as someone who can think outside the box. You will be viewed as someone who can solve tough problems.

So, when promotion time comes along, guess who will be already on the minds of the decision makers?

Connecting With Past Co-workers

Here's tip number 2.

If you've been in the field for a few years and have worked for a few different companies, then this next tip is for you.

One thing I started doing is contacting past co-workers and managers on LinkedIn.

First, I will ask them how they are doing. Next, I'll let them know - in a couple sentences - what I've been up to recently. And finally, I'll let them know that I am available to chat with them and help them with anything they need.

This is a short and concise way to connect with them on a personal level and let them know that you are just there to help them in any way.

Don't expect to be told immediately that your past co-workers have something they need help with. (Although that has happened to me, and I've landed some big opportunities this way.)

The main point is to merely put it in the minds of these people that you are available. When they move on to another company and are looking to hire software developers, guess who's going to come to mind first?

If you have a history of doing good work and being friendly and helpful to your co-workers, then you will be surprised where this simple tactic can lead!

Teaching

Have you noticed that the vast majority of the tech leaders you follow have either done public speaking, written books or recorded video tutorials?

My final tip will really accelerate your career: teach other developers in public.

Start speaking and presenting at user groups, meetups or even conferences.

Start writing technical blog articles that address very specific issues developers are facing in their day-to-day work.

You could even write a book which can skyrocket your credibility.

Or, you could begin recording video tutorials that help developers learn to build software better, use their tools more effectively, and so forth.

At the end of the day, simply helping people by teaching them to be better than they were yesterday will always win.

Thanks!

I hope you found these tips practical and useful! Thanks for letting me steal your thunder for a few minutes, Steve!

No problem, Jmaes. Thanks for the great tips. Listeners, I hope you'll sign up for James' newsletter to get more career-oriented tips from James in your inbox.

Show Resources and Links

That’s it for this week. If you want to hear more from me, go to ardalis.com/tips to sign up for a free tip in your inbox every Wednesday. I'm also streaming programming topics on twitch.tv/ardalis most Fridays at noon Eastern Time. Thank you for subscribing to Weekly Dev Tips, and I'll see you next week with another great developer tip.

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