Senior developers: About the fresh starts

Every time I move from a sector or a job, I tend to take a few months to re-think how I want to live. And when I do that, I love to write and share.

Sometimes jobs and self-expectactions can be so demanding that we tend to disregard 3 things: personal life, career planing and our need of technical grow.

For those without a job, or taking a long vacation, time is the most valuable resource you can have. And this is an opportunity to renew.
Here are some tips that I learned over the years, and I`m starting to re-use them by writing this. If you end up here, I hope this may be useful or inspiring.

Take some time off the market

When stress dissipates is simpler to see things clearly, the valuable lessons, and the mistakes you made to avoid in the future. Time helps us not only refining our ideal frame of mind but also clarify the next choices. Take it easy and enjoy the new opportunity to re-think life and your career the way you want to live them.
Of course, not everyone can do this. But if you have some savings…do it.

Prioritize restoring balance: Mind health

Retiring or leaving a job is never an easy choice. Is a stressful situation, even if you leave with good taste, leaving behind great projects, good teammates and good references. Sometimes is just all about expectations, and your life.

  • Embrace insecurity and fears.
    It´s natural to feel that way. It comes from the feeling of an uncertain future. Just breathe, clear your mind first, draw up a plan and take decisions. It's normal to take a while to dissipate. Get used to it and don´t let it overwhelm you. Start slowly, and keep moving. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Meditate: Take long walks and find new hobbies
    Sometimes the best way to find inspiration and motivation is to add some salt to your daily routines. Now you have all the time in the world.

Level up skills. Keep grinding. Never stop.

For years, I programmed for no company. Sometimes, even at nights, moving around the house mumbling about a feature I was stuck in, just because I love to create new things. Critics will say ‘Well, that´s not technically a job’. Turn off that voices, and keep up the focus mentality.
This is your job now, even if you are not getting paid yet. Consider it as a mid-term or long-term investment, and you are responsible for all the decisions. So make good use of your time.

Create Personal branding: Let your work talk for you.

Seriously. Don't beg for work. Create a product. Publish in GitLab, write articles, be proactive. Design your own path. And be regular.
In the XXI LinkedIn profiles, don't often talk about you, the way you think, or the quality of your code. They normally just reflect where you worked and for how long, and that isn´t much. Even sometimes… well, let´s be gentle and say profiles are not 100% accurate, so…

Let your public work and not your CV be your business card.

I`m a developer and also a psychologist, so let me try to explain this from 2 standpoints: the HM and the tech profiles. They look for different things to take decisions outside the interview phase.

Articles.

Talk about tech or yourself. If you are honest in your lines, a good HM can retrieve valuable info. Hints to help them decide if you could fit in a certain team or not. And please, be honest! If you are the square peg in the round hole or the misfit, so be it! Don´t be a fake. There is a place for everyone, somewhere. By doing this, you tell them that you have the soft-skill to communicate, what are your interests, expectations, and concerns.

Courses

You don´t have to empty your wallet. There are a lot of interesting and cheap courses on Udemy or codely.tv. Organize your day to start one and keep grinding on a daily basis until you get the knowledge you want to achieve. And share your degrees! By doing so you are proving that you are proactive, and passionate about the things you are doing, even when no one is watching.

When a CV ends in the hands of a team lead, a good lead may probably want to inspect your code. If they see something they like, they will probably want to know you and make an offer. So make valuable code. Keep it clean and well documented. Show evolution. But unless you publish it, no one can see it. So keep it updated and share it.

Make a project, publish demos

I bet that during your career, some ideas came to your mind that never got the time to be developed. Forget the to-do apps. Cmon. You can do better now. Prove it. And have fun with it.
Publish interactive demos. Github pages & Heroku are totally free.

Writing tech articles

Also, another benefit of writing tech articles is that may help people to solve a problem they are stuck in. You can´t always be right, but by sharing your research and learning, you are not only helping yourself but providing value to a community. And that´s huge. I got a rush anytime I find an article I wrote a while ago that was helpful for someone.

Market evolution: Be ahead of the tech curve before the demand arrival

When you work on big projects, you normally develop under some tech constraints for a while. Are you up to date? Have you missed something? What do you need to learn? Nothing is written in stone in software development, so don´t keep specializing forever in the same toolset or you will be limited in sight and growth.

Don´t rush into the first think that comes to your mind, or the current tech meta, make some research first. Tech is always evolving.

Sometime before I decided to get back to software development, I started learning Angular2 by myself on the first release. The community and gurus were all excited and there were high expectations around it. Almost every pro I knew expected that it would be the next reference, at least for a while. At that point, most front projects were mostly developed in AngularJS or JQuery.

In my mind, I thought ‘If I expend 4–8 hours a day learning this, make some projects, I can be ahead of the curve’. I wasn´t the smartest or fastest, I just had more time than a regular employee. I did that for 2 years without even getting paid, and that was the best decision I took in all my career.

Be patient: Don´t forget your biggest strengths

Tackle this new scenario with passion and perseverance, with the same level that you apply to your code when you are working for others. This is a different problem. But a good plan, logic, and hard work always give results.

So… you are telling me you are able to develop a complex feature for a big corporation, but you tell yourself you can´t find ways to get the kind of job or project you want? C`mon fella. Of course, you can.

Renew your passion, take care, and keep grinding!

Thanks for reading! If you are experiencing something similar now, I hope you found this either useful or motivational. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you want to share your adventure.

Hugs!

Coffee lover. Psychologist. Nerdy Front-End Developer since the 56-Kbps days. Javascript & Angular enthusiast. | Writer at Angular Playground