How to Grow Your Software Engineer Career

In 2016, Will Jacobson graduated from the 4-month Full Stack Coding Bootcamp and before he had even received his certificate, he had secured a job as a Full Stack Web Developer with a three figure salary.

This was the same man who a year earlier had walked away from a 7 year career as an isotope geochemist with no idea what he would do next.

Will is currently a software engineer and team lead with Currency and during his interview with the Sabio tech series, he gave us valuable insights on how he’s grown his software engineer career.

Learning More Programming Languages
Tablet Computer screen and phone screen with code and the words learn to code written on them Software Engineer Career

Improve Your Coding Skills

In the ever evolving tech world, there’s always an area that you need to improve in or a new skill that you need to learn. Don’t wait for that skill to be needed and get caught flat footed.

Invest in you -- 5 to 7 pm every day could be dedicated to acquiring a new skill. It could be a skillset that you feel you should have as a web developer or it could be a skill that you want to acquire to make you more valuable at work or position you for a pay rise or a new opening.

“When I got out of coding bootcamp, my cohort was the last one to learn Angular JS. I didn't know any React and I was saying, "Hey, I'm an SE1 Full Stack Developer. I don't know React though." That was an awkward place to be in. I felt a disconnect. So then, when I got to my next job, even though it wasn't part of what I did, I just isolated the time in the evening and learned that because I knew it would bite me later if I didn't.

If there’s a job you’re eyeing elsewhere, ask yourself, “How can I become eligible for it? If I'm an SE1, how can I be a shoe-in for a SE2 jobs elsewhere? How can I be a shoe in for a senior position?" Then work on developing the skills that you’ve identified that you need to be eligible for those jobs.

Increase Your Salary

i. Leverage Your Problem Solving Skills

When you join a company, if you’re keen, you will identify patterns where you’re repeatedly asked to do the same task. Take the initiative to solve these problems.

Will gives an example, “Your product manager will be saying, ‘Hey! There's this feature. Request this.’ And you'll start to see patterns and it's like, ‘Okay. Hold onto that for one minute. How about I build you this platform feature that will make it so you can go and click a button and this feature request won't be a feature request anymore?’”

Solving problems will save the company time and money. You can later leverage these contributions and negotiate for a percentage of what the company has saved to come back to you.

Chalkboard with upward trending money graph Software Engineer Career

ii. Ask Your Manager What You Need to do to Get a Raise

“Part of being relentless I think is being completely open. Let’s say you earn a hundred and you want to earn 120 for no reason, but you want it. That's valid. Go to your manager if you've got a good relationship with them and you should [let them know]. Say, ‘Hey, I want to be at this point. I think I've leveled up XYZ way. Maybe I haven't demonstrated this value to you yet, but how can I?’”

iii. Switch Jobs to Increase Your Income

You may be hesitant to move because you feel like it will reflect badly on your potential employer but in the software industry, if you have a year/ 18 months/ 2 years under your belt, it’s perfectly fine to look for a new job. Will got his second job, two and a half years after his first job.

Psychologically, your first employer may find it a little difficult to give your raise after your first year review so moving is one of the best ways to increase your salary.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

You’re no longer fresh out of coding bootcamp. You now have experience working in the software industry, so use that to optimize your LinkedIn Profile and draw recruiters to you. A few of changes you can make are:

  • Update your profile with your experience and skills.
  • Showcase projects that you’ve worked on and post screenshots if possible.
  • Purchase LinkedIn Premium. When Will was relocating, he purchased LinkedIn Premium to help him find jobs and he got one within 8 days.

“I feel like there comes a time where if you maintain your LinkedIn profile and if you've got a year plus under your belt, recruiters start coming to you and the game completely changes. Then it's a matter of who to filter out, pursue to spend a few minutes talking to if you're open to a change.”

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