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Achievable Professional Goals in IT – Rules and Levels

The world of IT is in a constant flux. Technology is being developed quicker than ever, everything tends to be slicker, smaller, more agile and funky. These changes bring new opportunities both for fresh CTOs, established professionals and experienced senior developers. For many developers and managers, it is the right moment to think about their self-development and consider setting professional goals.

Professional development depends on many factors such as your company’s size, resources, promotion policy, opportunities for growth, mentoring etc.

But honestly, in the end, everything lies in your hands. For example, young, inexperienced developers should choose what area they want to specialize in, IT team leaders should be brave enough to take responsibility for their team, and everyone is to be focused on successful project release.

After deciding whether you specialize in one specific area or become a versatile all-arounder – it is up to you, just remember to follow your professional growth goals and start achieving them. Check out our advice and rules concerning professional development in the IT industry and the latest trends in goal-setting.

Why does setting professional goals matter?

Research shows that successful people, like managers, top-notch runners, and achievers in any field, e.g. scientists, set professional goals. It helps you define a better long-term vision of the future steps. Thanks to that, you can focus on gaining proper knowledge, skills development, and organizing time and resources to make the most of your plan.

Having clearly defined goals, measuring progress makes attaining small achievements easier. A long process cut into smaller goals helps to realize your plans better and…feel proud of yourself. Boosting self-confidence is also important – being aware of abilities and strong points supports goal achievement.

SMART goals

Look below and analyze these simple SMART goals and subgoals – what action do you currently need to take to fulfill every part of this effective plan of professional goal achievement? Every small goal can be applied to this pattern and accomplished on time.

  • S – specific, or significant.
  • M – measurable, or motivational.
  • A – attainable, achievable, or acceptable.
  • R – realistic, relevant, or reasonable.
  • T – time-based, tangible, or trackable.

Job ladder for software developers

When thinking about professional growth, imagine different meshing spheres of responsibility in place of levels of specific skills. Such modelling helps to see and understand your tasks (goals) to finish (achieve) on every level on the job ladder.

Check out how you can define goals for every sphere of the job of a web app developer on a path to becoming a CIO or a CTO.

Skills

Professional abilities are the base of goals achievement – the most desirable traits are:

  • programming: understanding of various (or one) computer languages, backend skills, ability to build smooth navigation, design, debugging and testing, performance optimization.
  • communication: effective and clear messages and emails to team members, status updates, structured statements, collaborative openness.
  • creative & critical thinking: counteracting long-term goals with short-term ones; forecasting obstacles, right planning abilities, understanding requirements.
  • seizing the initiative: try to be moved by the goals, ambitious, focused, and motivated.

Lifetime professional goals – levels

More and more software companies pay special attention to the development of a professional career. Many policies speak about achieving goals and levels to go through between specific roles in the organization. Employees are properly informed about the steps to take on their career path to succeed. Career advancement does not always mean promotion – it is more about tackling the next professional challenges and taking responsibility.

Employees appreciate clear information about their role and place within an organization.

When their career path is clear, they know the expectations, create milestones and envision their growth under the same company’s roof. Scroll down for examples of career levels in the IT industry – do you agree with this proposition of reaching professional goals?

Learn how to set SMART professional goals in IT.

Level 1: Junior Software Engineer

Role:

  • building defined features,
  • investigating and fixing bugs/flows,
  • identifying problematic issues,
  • troubleshooting, testing,
  • communicating progress and project’s current phase,
  • learning new programming languages step by step.

Gaining experience: 0 – 3 years

Level 2: Senior Software Engineer

Role:

  • owning functional areas,
  • breaking large requests down into smaller tasks,
  • communicating higher-level status updates,
  • creating test plans,
  • taking operational responsibility,
  • setting measurable goals, and trying to meet them on time,
  • making code changes reviews,
  • mentoring new developers.

Experience: ~3 – 8 years

Level 3: Senior Software Engineer

Role:

  • owing development and responsibility for the whole project or entire product,
  • supervising process (SCRUM, TDD, AMDD etc.),
  • writing technical specifications,
  • identifying risks before starting a project,
  • setting standards or work,
  • taking responsibility for deploying a project.

Experience: ~5+ years

Level 4: Architect (called also: Principal Engineer)

Role:

  • owning cross-team shared infrastructure,
  • collaborating with CTOs and other managers/ engineers to choose new/the right technologies,
  • promoting the organizational culture,
  • having confident expertise in a business area,
  • doing research on evaluation and testing new solutions,
  • understanding implications of reliability, scalability, and operational costs,
  • recruiting, supporting onboarding, mentoring etc.

Experience: ~8+ years

Final word

Achievable goal setting is a technique that boosts personal success, progress in chosen fields and knowledge. Every developer’s professional growth will be easier in a company that supports development and the way it is organized and structured. Values and goals should mesh with the organization’s vision and mission.

Your values may change over time and thus influence your role and professional path – that is totally normal. Re-evaluation of your professional goals can reveal new inspirations and help you turn away from bad choices.

The main factors influencing professional growth are in fact: motivation and productivity together with opportunities offered by the company – standards, morale, mission, rules etc.

Resources:

  • https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
  • https://syndicode.com/2019/01/26/what-is-a-typical-job-ladder-for-a-software-engineer

Matt Warcholinski

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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