Career FAQ Part 1: Progression

After my last post regarding my time and how it magically disappears, it’s taken me two weeks to make this one. Written expression is not massively intuitive to me, plus a commitment to recruitment efforts as well as the usual household tasks means my writing has been done in small bursts when possible.

Part one on questions I get asked frequently or stuff that crops up in feedback. Or maybe just things I am insecure about and feel may need explanation.

So why is it, after a sixteen-year full-time working career, have I not climbed the ladder any further than simply ‘Developer’.

Short answer: Initially down to short-term jobs, a series of redundancies, then trying a change of focus out of development and finally changing priorities in my life meaning career related choices were based more on financial security over risking new roles to climb the seniority ladder.

Long answer: It’s fair to say the first five years saw me change roles several times. Initially, this was to figure out whether I preferred designing or coding (coding). Some of it was down to learning my preferred cultural fit in a company. Some of my early employers were great for variation and creative problem solving but pretty high on pressure. But there were also redundancies and cases where companies changed their mind after probation for what kind of skills they needed.

At one point I attempted to change direction, going sidewards rather than up. After the last redundancy as a developer, I used the payout to fund and pass a handful of BCS certifications with the intention of putting them toward a Diploma in Business Analysis. Sadly, I ran out of time and money then none of my job applications toward this career goal were successful though I did end up in a slightly different role that was related – as a solutions consultant for a medium-sized agency. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a generally horrible experience with my GP diagnosing me with stress and having to leave as soon as possible which led me back to development as these were the most easily attainable roles at the time.

At around the same time as leaving, I relocated which also narrowed the possibilities down as this was further away from London. Still, I managed to find a front-end developer role I would stay in for a while thanks to a great team, working culture, and a company that seemed to care about its employees. During this time I took the best part of a year for maternity and adjusted to balancing family and work in a way I hadn’t needed to before. Unfortunately, there were few ways of experiencing new technologies (outside of classroom training) or getting into leadership within that team. So eventually I had to decide between a financially secure, flexible (which was less common at that time!) that was directionless or taking a risk to move my career onwards.

I have absolutely no regrets about my choices and have learned from even the poor experiences. Perhaps I’m not as far along as I’d like, but there is time and I certainly don’t need ‘senior’ in my title to impart the experience I do have with others who have less.