9 tips to kick-start an amazing software developer career
Image: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

9 tips to kick-start an amazing software developer career

23 May 2017176 Shares

So, you want to be a software developer. We’ve got nine essential tips to get you started on the road to success.

The tech industry is forever crying out for talent and it seems that, at the moment, the world needs software developers.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a huge number of candidates vying for available jobs. The sector may be fruitful, but you still have to make yourself stand out.

A budding software developer needs all the help they can get. Any tips, advice or words of wisdom will surely help them on their way to success.

To make the start of your career a little easier, we’ve rounded up some top tips for all you software developers starting out to help you land your dream job.

Live, eat and breathe code

Coding and programming will be your bread and butter if you choose to be a software developer, which means you need to make it your life.

Writers who don’t write every day or singers who don’t constantly sing don’t get very far compared to those who don’t stop. It’s the same idea for coders. If being a successful software developer is your dream, you need to live your life that way.

Practise coding and learn everything you can about the programming languages you’re working with. Stay abreast of trends in the programming world. Prove how much you want it with your actions.

Don’t specialise

The jury is often out on this one, but most experts say you’re better off not specialising in a particular programming language, especially if you’re just starting out.

Very few jobs require a niche programmer that only knows one language, even if they know that language really well. Familiarise yourself with as many as you can, and focus your attention on the most popular ones.

The broader your knowledge is, the more opportunities you will have. There is an argument to be made for specialising later in your career to make yourself an invaluable asset, but that’s a decision you’ll have to make further down the line.

Get experience at a big company

Experience of any kind is important for a software developer early in their career, but if you have one of the bigger names on your CV or LinkedIn profile, it’s going to draw more interest.

You don’t have to stay long at a big company. Any amount of decent development experience at the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Intel or IBM will carry a lot more clout than lesser-known companies.

This will be the case even if you feel you’ve had a more rounded experience from a smaller company. Ideally, strive for both. All the combined experience will look good on your CV and if you have a big name there, all the better.

Work on your own projects

Having side projects or your own website is always solid advice, whether you’re currently looking for a job, in a job or freelancing.

Remember what we said about living and breathing code? Your own development projects will show your true passions and help you upskill in your spare time.

Even if you love your job, you’re not always going to get to do exactly what you want, and having your own project is an outlet for you to do just that. It’s also something you can add to your CV.

Join online communities

Software developers all around the world enjoy talking to other software developers. It’s a good idea to get to know them and find their online hangouts.

Online communities are a great way to upskill, network and develop friendships with like-minded people to bounce ideas off.

Platforms such as Stack Overflow, Coderwall and Hashnode all provide helpful communities for questions, discussions and advice for software developers at all levels.

Work on your soft skills

Something often forgotten by people working in tech is the soft skills. However, they are considered the most important part of landing your dream job.

You can practise your hard, technical skills and you can improve your programming knowledge, but if you can’t work as part of a team or think outside the box, you might not be any better than the 20 other coders a recruiter is looking at.

Spend time practising for your interviews. Identify weaknesses in your soft skills and work on improving them.

Move frequently

Moving jobs a lot might not be for everyone. After all, if it’s your dream to work as a software developer at Google for the rest of your life, then there’s not much point in moving once you get there.

However, if you have no ties to a particular company and your goal is simply to be a successful software developer, then moving frequently will stand to you.

Every organisation is different; the more you move, the more you will learn and grow. If you stay still for too long, you risk becoming comfortable and not upskilling the way you would by moving around.

Value your reputation

Whether you’re just moving from one steady job to the next, or you’re trying your hand at going freelance, your reputation as a software developer is invaluable.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a small city such as Dublin or a huge area such as California – the software developer community is small and tight-knit. Word will get around fast if you’re in any way unreliable or difficult to work with.

Always keep your reputation at the front of your mind, no matter where you work. It goes both ways, too. Good word of mouth is not to be underestimated – it might even lead to your next job.

Challenge yourself

For a software developer, upskilling is largely based on one’s own initiative. Upskilling with coding is achieved through practice and exploring challenges to bring yourself to the next level.

Give yourself personal goals, be it developing a program from scratch, learning a new language or getting to grips with a whole other side of the business, such as UX or marketing.

There is so much room for you to grow and progress when you’re a software developer, so take every opportunity you can and never stop learning. If you feel you’ve hit a wall, find something new to sink your teeth into.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny is the Careers Editor at Siliconrepublic.com, although she prefers to be known as Careers Overlord. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading