Tough questions for enterprise developers who want to get ahead: Part 4

By Adam Seligman, VP Developer Relations at

What do you want to be known for? Do you want to carry around a resume of things you’ve done? Or do you want your fingerprints all over awesome achievements on the internet that speak for themselves?

Is your resume a flat dead tree recounting old software monuments of yore? Or do you have a digital graph of amazing projects you’ve worked on and are proud of? What will they think about you before you walk into your next job interview?

Who will be keeping tabs on you now, before you even start looking for that new role? Get known for your work. Get known for doing. If you can’t say that today, it’s time to change a few things.

The fourth and final part of my series, ‘Four tough questions enterprise developers should ask themselves…,’ examines the challenges faced by developers in this new era of recruitment, and looks at some best practices for anyone looking for a new job in the developer industry.

Question 4: Do I have a 2003 or a 2013 resume?

Tell me about where you work today. Are you moving fast and creating great things? Are you getting experience with open source projects? Are you learning not just how to use a small set of tools, but learning the craft of software? Is there a developer ownership culture, from business idea through to code development, production ops and user feedback? If not, you may be in the wrong place.

What is this place doing to your resume? Another year of working with a framework built in the 90s for a pre-cloud, datacentre and desktops world? Are you writing apps for carphones or smartphones?

Let’s get your new resume ready. Pick a project. Deconstruct it. Throw out that lame book on enterprise architecture and standards. Do some research and investigate what might be the most expressive, clean and fit-for-purpose tool, framework, language and cloud platform for it. Force yourself to become a polyglot programmer by trying something new.

Ideally, you are going to hit a couple of rough spots. That’s good. Because you will soon discover (a) better ways to use the tools, and (b) simplifications to the tools themselves. Make a suggestion. Pilot a change and submit a pull request on GitHub. Build your digital fingerprint as a committer, not just as a cube jockey.

What you should be doing

Visualize what you want to be known for. Don’t just list technologies you’ve used, have a point of view on what the best approach is for a particular use case. Contribute and blog about what and why. Treat software as a craft, and build up your portfolio.

Make sure you have a footprint on GitHub, and be an active voice on the language, software communities and issues that matter to you. Get known. Get to know people. Join some local meetups and challenge yourself to present a standup.

Do you like what you see when you search your name? Is it a static resume or a portfolio of awesome? If you are passionate, connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I want to be part of the community you are part of too.

If you don’t like what you see, find a project to get involved in. If nothing else, go get good at JavaScript. Learn Backbone or Node and GO. Do. GitHub collaborators do. That’s what makes a great developer!

To conclude: I challenge you to sit back and think about the four questions asked throughout this series.

The biggest complaint from developers looking for opportunities to elevate their career is, “My company would never allow that.” I’ve been doing this a long time, and if you peel the layers away you almost always find that’s not the case.

It’s just that there’s a first step – you have to show them a better way. Use the cloud. Use JavScript and open source and Rails and Python. Be a polyglot programmer. Ship a mobile app that connects to your enterprise data. Build your portfolio. You’ll take your company to the future, and you’ll elevate your career.

For part one of this series, click here.

For part two, click here.

For part three, click here.

Connnect with Adam Seligman on Twitter - @adamse

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