Finding and following great tech career advice can pave the way for your promotion to the next level. In this post, we will discuss 7 amazing pieces of content by equally amazing people that can act as a key to unlock the door to the next level of your career, let’s get started!
More than once, I have found myself referring to similar content to people who come to me for tech career advice. The general questions are: I want to advance to the next level, my manager doesn’t push me enough, etc. My general response to these concerns are:
No one is more concerned about your promotion than yourself and no one is going to serve a promotion on a plate for you. You will need to work and earn that promotion.
So get ready to be directed towards great tech career advice by some awesome people who really know what they are talking about as most of it is coming out of their own experience.
Table of contents #
- Must consume pieces of tech career advice
- Bonus resources with tech career advice
Must consume pieces of tech career advice #
Below are some of the amazing content available online on how you can get that coveted promotion. It will be especially helpful if you are a woman in tech, for instance, the glue code post is oriented towards female software engineers.
Staff Engineering podcast - Will Larson #
In my opinion, Will Larson the current CTO of calm is the semi-god in the tech career advice arena. His blog has lots of amazing pieces on career advice. He has worked at companies like Stripe, Uber, and Digg to name a few. He surely knows how to share his experience about the tech career and advice people of all levels, specifically Seniors and above to climb up to the next milestone.
I would recommend anything Will writes or says on any podcasts.
One of my favorite podcast episodes is, where Will was a guest on Career Chats titled Staff Engineering. The main takeaway from that podcast for me was find a mentor”.
He has also written a book called StaffEng, the StaffEng website also has amazing stories and podcasts of other Staff plus engineers. The baseline here is, if Will Larson is featured on any podcast, make sure that you listen to it as it will surely have some great tech career advice you should not miss at any cost.
Moving on to the next piece that has landed promotions to at least 2 people I shared the post with, it is none other than Brag doc.
Brag Doc by Julia Evans #
Julia Evans also has a great blog. Of course, her zines are super amazing too. The one on the command line is great. She identifies herself as a software developer whose earnings come from her business Wizard Zines.
One of her blog posts that you must absolutely read word by word is Brag Document.
The premise is simple, you don’t remember everything you did and your manager doesn’t know and/or remember all the things you did.
Document in a brag/achievements doc that will act as a strong case for your promotion packet.
Include your goals, include other things like mentoring, docs, what you learned, and even things outside work. Accentuate your achievements and make it work as a bridge to that coveted promotion or leveling up in some way or form.
Next up, we will discuss how there should be space where you can move up.
Engineering Levels - Charity Majors #
Charity Majors is the CEO and co-founder of HoneyComb. She has worked at Facebook and Parse. She is also the co-author of Database Reliability Engineering” by O’Reilly. One of the best posts on her blog about tech career advice is on Engineering Levels.
The thing I remember most about this amazing post is, “is there oxygen?”, it mentions:
In short, is there oxygen at the next level? Does the company need more of the type of engineer you want to be, vs more of the type of engineer you are now?
It adds even better advice like, “Your relationship with your manager matters. So does your ability to communicate about the work you are doing, its difficulty, its unexpected challenges, and triumphs, etc. This is called “managing up”, and it is an actual skill which I am terrible at. So are most of you”. To sum up, don’t just scan through this gem of a post, read it line by line. This advice is coming from someone who has seen it all and is CEO of a pretty successful company.
Consequently, we will dig into how to achieve career growth.
How to achieve career growth - Damian Schenkelman #
Damian Schenkelman the author of this influential article is a principal engineer at Auth0, before working there he used to work at Microsoft. This particular post about how to achieve career growth is detailed and very helpful.
One thing I clearly remember from this great piece is:
The biggest decisions about your career are often made when you’re not in the room
The way he defines “sponsors”, finding the right ones, and making your skills visible to them is one of the best tech career advice I have read in the past couple of years. Like Charity’s post, he also mentioned available opportunities. He adds: “Available Opportunities are also contextual: they depend on your seniority, team, company’s financial situation, etc.” All in all, you should read this post as well to understand the dynamics between what you want, what your company needs, and how sponsors, including yourself, can bridge that gap to get you promoted.
Subsequently, we will discuss one of my favorite tech career advice by Tanya - Being Glue.
Being Glue - Tanya Reilly #
Tanya Rielly is a Principal software engineer at Squarespace working on infrastructure and site reliability. Before Squarespace, she has spent 12 years in Site Reliability Engineering at Google. If people like Tanya give a talk or have some tech career advice, I will be there all ears to soak up the advice. This particular blog post/talk Being Glue is not really direct tech career advice. It is more like how many companies tend to value “hard engineering skills” and undermine all the other technical and human skills involved in software engineering.
This scenario is very relatable to female software engineers.
I shared it with one of the female software engineers I know and she said this is exactly what is happening to me right now.
My advice as Tanya says in the talk was, to let things break and then people will value you. Glue work is like glue code in my view, looks like it is just adding that route in the controller but without it, all the amazing code you wrote has no interface to be accessed. Baseline, always value glue work!
Next up we have a piece geared towards the people who think their manager is not doing enough. Let’s dig into that.
Manager Voltron - Lara Hogan #
Lara Hogan brands herself as a coach and trainer for the tech industry, she is also the author of the book Resilient management. She has a blog full of great content, manager Voltron is the one that stands out for me as great tech career advice.
In that post, she talks about how you should not rely solely on your manager but have other people who can help you with your career progression. She also mentions:
No one person will ever be able to manage you the way you want or need.
there are a plethora of people out there whom you can lean on to find the variety of support you need.
She also advocates the reader to find a coach and it really helps you. A quick rundown is available in the Manager Voltron worksheet. Another great general resource I picked up from her in a podcast she was a guest in is Defrag you calendar worksheet. It is geared towards managers but surely doesn’t say others can’t use it :).
Next up is a podcast, to talk yourself up from the HBR idea cast.
Talk yourself up - HBR idea cast #
There is very little chance that you have not heard of Harvard even though you may have missed Harvard Business Review. Lucky for us, they do a great podcast called the HBR ideacast. Amongst the many great episodes Ideacast has, there is surely one, in particular, I can tag as great tech career advice. It is about how to talk yourself up, without turning off people.
Let’s admit this fact, you will need to self-promote yourself to make yourself visible and accentuate your hard work. This podcast episode gently stems out of the Savvy self-promotion article.
In this particular episode, the host Alison Beard interviews Leslie John, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.
They discuss how people at times beat the self-promotion drum too much and go into the humble brags route too.
They also discuss sharing when others are sharing. Another great takeaway from this almost 26-minute episode is to promote other people’s work which eventually helps you.
Next up we have some more resources as a bonus for you.
Bonus resources with tech career advice #
In addition to the above amazing podcasts and blog posts, Learn in Public will be a good thing for your tech career progression. The creator of Learn In Public has a book called The Career Coding Handbook. It has 3 free chapters that have amazing tech career advice filled up in them. Of course, if you like what you read I would recommend buying that book.
If you are a junior dev the From junior to senior free chapter is a gold mine of great information.
There are a couple of amazing weeklies I am subscribed to that feeds into my hunger each week for top-class tech career advice.
Both of these are more geared towards Senior level engineers and above. Again, Senior and above is more of a mindset and if you can develop them soon enough that is a good thing. Lead dev is also a great resource for stand-out tech career advice.
As mentioned above, you are the one in charge of your career progression.
If you don’t self-invest and stride towards that promotion, other people like your manager have very little skin in the game to be going deeper.
Use the above resources to your advantage, soak up all the great tech career advice you can get, and try to level up to achieve your next career milestone.