8 Non-Programming Books You Haven’t Considered That Will Boost Your Programmer Career

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

There are many lists of books about becoming a better programmer. They likely include books like Refactoring, Code Complete, The Mythical Man Month, etc.

However, in the workplace, it isn’t just programming knowledge that we programmers need. Learning programming is an essential part of our work — but it’s not everything.

The authors of iconic programming books had remarkable careers, but it wasn’t just their coding knowledge that made their careers noteworthy. They were well-rounded experts and we should strive to emulate that quality as well.

The Software Career You Didn’t Think To Consider — Professional Services

When I started working as a programmer, I assumed there was only one career path for programmers...

Here is my latest post for Simple Programmer…

It looked something like this: Become extremely knowledgeable in a given programming language until eventually you become a senior programmer.

Once you’re a senior programmer, you ride out the rest of your career as a programmer. Or you make a leap out of the technical world and into a strategy- or management-focused role.

For many programmers, this is a hard decision. Programming is what we love and we don’t want to lose our hard-earned skills. As programmers, we’re often very aware of how quickly our skills fade when we’re not in the business of putting out code anymore.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is another option that allows you to straddle both areas of the so-called softer and technical side of the profession.

And that’s in the realm of professional services.

On being and hiring an apprentice

When it comes to being an apprentice: autonomy trumps skill.

We are often an apprentice. Whether that’s joining a new team with a new business domain. Or joining a new job that requires new skills. This means that we’re at the mercy of needing someone else to guide us. Leaving us in the dark, trying to make sense of everything.
 
As I move between clients often I find myself in the apprentice space a lot. And then wondering what approach is best. Ask lots of questions or hardly any? What amount of interaction makes sense?

Creating a powerful online presence with a platform

Having a website, blog, portfolio or stackoverflow profile is common amongst software developers. Yet, by thinking about our online presence as a Platform we could be achieving greater results. But what is a platform? And why would we want one?

My journey with Platform all started a few years ago when I read Key Person of Influence. It ultimately prompted my intrigue with writing. Blown away by the ideas in this book I had to dig deeper. This is when I discovered books talking about similar concepts:
I recommend them all.
 
The concept of Platform can apply to every type of software developer career. It doesn’t matter if you: want to work full time, start a business or go into management … The concepts of Platform apply no matter your career vision.

Plot twist! Your portfolio is not about you …

A subtle change in the way you set out your developer portfolio can make a huge difference for it's impact and reach.

For developers, portfolios have become more commonplace. Which in itself is a wonderful thing. It’s a great tool to showcase your work and your passion. I even believe it’s one of the best investments you can make as a developer. Especially if you’re starting out. But, I made a mistake when I created mine years ago. I wish I could go back and do things again. Because there is something that I’d change.

Why “Should you build your portfolio with code or a template?” is the wrong question

Asking which way to build your portfolio is only half the question: the real question is how do you deliver what the market demands.

If you want to step up your developer career you might be considering creating a portfolio. If you are, bravo! Having a portfolio immediately puts you ahead of the curve. So, you sit down with a coffee in hand and debate the best ways to create your website and a thought crosses your mind:
 
Do I create my portfolio in code, or do I use a template?
 
This question came up recently on a front end developer forum. The answers that emerged were short and shallow. Did they answer the question? Yes. Will they help the developer get hired? I’m not so sure.

The best software developers write, you should too

10 reasons you should write. Gain clarity over your thoughts, get better job satisfaction and accelerate your career.

The rules are changing. Especially for knowledge workers like software developers. It’s impacting how we should craft our careers. The opportunities and the tools we have are different to the years before. Writing platforms are one of these big shifts. We have the ability to share our ideas with large audiences. It’s simpler than ever. Mainstream media influence is yielding to the power of individual influencers. Only a handful of developers will identify this opportunity. Even less act on it.
If you insist on playing todays games by yesterdays rules, you’re stuck – Seth Godin, Tribes.

Why learning a new framework could damage your career.

Asking questions such as "Which framework should I learn?" is asking the wrong question. Instead, you should be asking, where should I spend my energy to improve my mastery.

 A water-tight career strategy for your personal brand is your most important asset. Having one will:
  • Guide your decision making
  • Lead you closer to fulfilment
  • Create more purpose in your work
It also puts the power back in your hands. You can write blogs, speak at talks, read books – these are all activities well within your power. With so much choice, how you spend your time has never been more important.