What Makes You Stand out as a Developer?

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Once an obscure career, now software development has over 26 million in employment. Careers in tech have been becoming even more popular due to the prominently highlighted importance of digital interactions during the pandemic-driven shutdown. These careers can be done remotely from anywhere in the world as long as you have wifi. Flocks of high-quality talents into the field enabled accelerated growth of innovation and birth of millions of apps and capabilities designed to disrupt the current status quo. Now, there are about 700 programming languages and many collaborative open-source platforms such as Github.

Different developers can specialise in different areas. You can focus on web development, mobile application engineering, or artificial intelligence programming, systems engineer, database architecture, etc. It is an ever-expanding field and that’s also becoming more competitive. If you are in or pursuing the path of a developer, here are some tips to help you stand out and improve your chances of success.

1. Expand your range of knowledge

Having a better understanding of a wider range of programming languages and data systems will give you a huge leg up. For instance, if you are a web developer, you may be able to get away with just HTML and CSS but you’ll have a lot more advantage if you know Javascript to add more complex features. More knowledge equals more versatility. And versatility pays off. A front-end developer who can only create the design of a website could earn about 9% less than a full stack developer who can do the same but also can set up the back-end database systems. So you want to have a more blended set of skills as if you were pursuing multiple career paths in IT.

You may also want to be flexible across devices (e.g., Android vs. iPhone), databases (i.e., SQL vs. NoSQL database), and cloud systems. Each employer/client will have their own systems set up based on their preferences and it will certainly improve your chances if you are already able to work with their own systems. Your knowledge of your primary area will also improve as you branch out into other sectors from which you can learn new techniques and styles.

2. Build an impressive portfolio

It always helps to have a tangible, visual portfolio to showcase. Logo designers will have a collage of all of their work and so should a developer. A portfolio isn’t a file of your codes. It should include websites and applications you’ve built, ideally ones where they can quickly interact with to see the outcome of your work. As a developer, you will often work in a team where you will contribute to a project but may rarely have something you built on your own. If that’s the case, we encourage you to take on additional side projects or hustles. You can try out some free projects available and challenge yourself to build something new.

You can also find other like-minded innovators and tech enthusiasts to collaborate with and build a product or site together. There are industry-wide initiatives on platforms such as Github which invite many driven developers to try out new and better techniques. Being active in these communities will help raise your profile. Github’s profile can speak volumes to your technical capabilities.

3. Strengthen your project management skills

Agile methodology and SCRUM have become the standard production methodologies. The more complex the products and applications become, the more teams and resources need to be juggled. This is why a technical project manager has risen as a popular career. If you are able to demonstrate the ability to manage projects efficiently, you will be seen as leadership material. This entails coordinating communications between teams, collaborating with both technical and non-technical teams, and timely and strategic task allocation.

Being a good project manager ultimately will set you up to run DevOps or manage the engineering org. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, PM skills are non-negotiable. You need to be able to see different resources available and consider how you can produce the output you are looking for efficiently and effectively. Working closely with your technical project manager to learn alongside him/her can be the first step in developing these skills. Learn how to create a project plan and track progress and volunteer to do the work every opportunity you get to practise!

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