Guide to a Developer Career

Guide to a Developer Career

Not every tech professional wants to end up working in management. Nonetheless, there are also good reasons to aim for that particular brass ring. In larger companies, managers with a technical background are very often responsible for the most interesting projects. Then there is the money factor. Managers typically earn more and receive additional perks more often.

However, success as a manager, particularly in a senior leadership role, requires a set of skills that can take years to develop.

Very often it is a question of pronounced soft skills. If you haven't taken the chance to work on your communication, collaboration and delegation skills by now, it's never too late to start.

Imagine your goal

There are many leadership positions. Are you satisfied with a middle-level project manager role or would you rather aim for the C-level to become a CIO for example? Once you have your personal goal in mind, you can work towards it. Tech management positions, which are at higher levels, often have an operations or development background.

If you are just at the beginning of your career but already have ambitious plans to get to the top, it is important to take on larger and larger projects. This will help you gain the experience you need to be a part of management. If you volunteer to take on additional challenges or solve difficult technical problems, chances are your manager will give you more responsibility.

If you are in the middle of your career, you can strengthen your CV with a project management certification or other important certifications. For example, if you want to be responsible for the IT security of a large company, you should acquire the necessary security certifications. Not to be forgotten are certifications that deal with the design, planning and implementation of IT infrastructure for companies.

The art of management

Certifications and technical experience will not necessarily contribute to leadership ability (although you can pick up a lot along the way). Once you reach the upper levels of management, your day-to-day business will increasingly revolve around business results. It's not just a matter of making sure the technology works, but that it delivers positive business outcomes.

If you have the time and money, you can do a business master's degree or something similar. However, if you are not ready to return to the classroom, find a mentor who can help you run a department or even an entire company.

You may find it intimidating to ask someone to mentor you. You will be surprised how willingly your request will be complied with. People are happy to explain what they are doing to others, provided you respect the time they devote to it.

Soft skills

Managers need to communicate. Anyone unable to communicate their ideas clearly will not survive long in management (or be unable to do anything productive). IT professionals moving up to the management level have a unique advantage.

They understand the technology and can explain to these non-technical people in simple terms. At least that is the hope. In practice, everyone can use a little practice and experience in conveying ideas. So make sure you get that kind of job or opportunity.

However, “soft skills” are not just limited to speaking and writing. It's about the ability to interact with others in a way that makes them feel valued. While networking is generally a way of getting a job, you should develop the ability to connect with others on a variety of topics.

By combining soft skills with your technological know-how, you can become a force guaranteed to find your place in the management suite. How far you climb the ladder is up to you.

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