Advancing your career

A software developer wrote to me: “I have been working for a software company for more than four years but I want to move up to director or senior manager level. What should I do to achieve my career goal?


Answer: I am glad that you have a career goal to be a director or senior manager and you are willing to pursue it. Having a clear career goal will give you direction to get there as well as motivate you to take the needed actions. However, you need to have a “road map” to define all the steps to reach your goal. The first step you will need is to work on challenging works or important projects to prove that you are capable of doing difficult works. It will help build a reputation that you are a skilled person who can get the work done and ready to do whatever it takes to complete the job. By complete important project you will get notice by senior management.

The second step you will need is to get specialized in a particular technical area. You may be a good software developer or tester but to move up, you need to focus on special technical skills such as software architect, requirements engineer, project manager, database administrator, or computer security specialist because this will distinguish you from others and allow you to quickly rise above all developers or testers. Sometime it is necessary to go back to school to get a Master’s degree in special field such as computer security, data analyst, or information system manager, as these are high demand skills in the industry today.

The third step you will need is to learn as much as you can about the business of the company. To get into management means you have to know more about the business and the management system. Since each company is unique, you may need to seek additional advice from higher level managers who can help you. My suggestion is to try to find a mentor who can help your career toward your goal of being a director or senior management level. Advice from a higher level manager who knows you and your career goal can guide you to make the right decisions when needed.

To move upward, you need to be patient since there will be setbacks, obstacles, disappointments, and competitions but as long as your goal is clear and you are willing to do whatever it takes, you will get there.

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