7 deadly career mistakes developers make

Failure may lead to success, but unthinking complacency is a certain dev career killer.

By Paul Heltzel
May 17, 2016

“It’s a benefit to other employers looking for a very specialized skill set, and every business is different,” says Mehul Amin, director of engineering at Advanced Systems Concepts. “But this can limit your growth and knowledge in other areas. Obviously staying a few months at each job isn’t a great look for your résumé, but employee turnover is pretty high these days and employers expect younger workers like recent college graduates to move around a bit before staying long-term at a company.”

Mistake No. 2: Job jumping

Let’s look at the flip side: Are you moving around too much? If that’s a concern, you might ask whether you’re really getting what you need from your time at a firm.

Hilary Craft, IT branch manager, Addison Group
“Constant job hopping can be seen as a red flag.” -- Hilary Craft, IT branch manager, Addison Group

Charles Edge, director of professional services at Apple device management company JAMF Software, says hiring managers may balk if they’re looking to place someone for a long time: “Conversely, if an organization burns through developers annually, bringing on an employee who has been at one company for 10 years might represent a challenging cultural fit. I spend a lot of time developing my staff, so I want them with me for a long time. Switching jobs can provide exposure to a lot of different techniques and technologies, though.”

Those who move on too quickly may not get to see the entire lifecycle of the project, warns Ben Donohue, VP of engineering at MediaMath.

“The danger is becoming a mercenary, a hired gun, and you miss out on the opportunity to get a sense of ownership over a product and build lasting relationships with people,” Donohue says. “No matter how talented and knowledgeable you are as a technologist, you still need the ability to see things from the perspective of a user, and it takes time in a position to get to know user needs that your software addresses and how they are using your product.”

Hilary Craft, IT branch manager at Addison Group, makes herself plain: “Constant job hopping can be seen as a red flag. Employers hire based on technical skill, dependability, and more often than not, culture fit. Stability and project completion often complement these hiring needs. For contractors, it’s a good rule to complete each project before moving to the next role. Some professionals tend to ‘rate shop’ to earn the highest hourly rate possible, but in turn burn bridges, which won’t pay off in the long run.”

Mistake No. 3: Passing on a promotion

There’s a point in every developer’s life where you wonder: Is this it? If you enjoy coding more than running the show, you might wonder if staying put could stall your career.

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