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Top 5 mistakes C#/.NET developers make that can cause their career to stall

IT is a dynamic sector of our economy. That means that it is critical that you are a dynamic employee and participant. At its core, being complacent or resistant to change can drastically decrease your career prospects. Here are the most common mistakes that a .NET developers make in their careers.

1. Poor communication skills

One of the most common career missteps for MS developers I have heard over the past 30 year is a lack of softs skills. Particularly the ability to effectively communicate technical issues to non-technical stakeholders.
In today’s business world, IT touches everyone.

That is why it is essential to always keep leaders and other company stakeholders informed of potential bottlenecks or opportunities to improve the overall usability of the application. This shows your employer that you care about how your work impacts the overall goals of your company which in turn demonstrates your ability to handle more complex and high-level responsibilities.

Failing to communicate effectively with leaders in your organization can lead to missed opportunities.

Another important aspect of your communication skills is how you communicate with your boss and other employees. Especially those that fall outside of the IT realm (e.g. finance, marketing, sales, etc.). When working with other individuals, it is important to appreciate that you represent the entire IT department. The nature of IT work is complex to understand so the simpler you can make it for someone, the better. It can be easy to get frustrated and have a short fuse when someone does not pick up quickly on what you are saying. But, it is crucial that you maintain a level-head and try your best to reword your explanation in a way that makes sense to users. If your boss is able to see you as someone that communicates effectively, efficiently, and passionately you will set yourself apart from most of your IT peers. 

In my experience with helping hiring managers fill C# / .NET Developer roles, developers with strong presentation and communication skills are known within most organizations and are elevated in their career quicker than most. 

2. Not learning outside of work

As we all know, the only thing that is constant is change.  The IT industry is constantly evolving. In order to keep pace and advance your career consider learning and developing new skills while you are not on the clock. A good habit is to pick one new skill you’re going to train yourself on and come up with a schedule. Some examples of skills to learn such as .NET Core, Azure, and hyper automation are discussed in our article: top ways for C# .NET developer’s can stay competitive in today’s market. 

Hiring managers look for employees that can demonstrate the ability to learn new skills on their own long after their formal training has ended.   

By not over relying on your employer to teach you new technologies, it can allow you to teach yourself things you’re personally interested in and keep your job fresh. This also will allow you to introduce new technologies that can potentially help the business and your career. Taking the time each year to learn about new tools or platforms will keep you actively engaged in your own career.

3. Resistance to .NET Core and hyper automation

Resistance to any technological advancement can be detrimental in any career especially in IT. But, recently there have been key technological innovations that have made significant impacts in C# / .NET space. Some of these innovations that hiring managers want their new developers to have experience in are .NET Core, RPA, and modern frameworks.

According to Gardner’s 2020 prediction report, RPA was the fastest-growing enterprise software segment. Based on what I have heard from CIOs and CTOs, many organizations have a goal to achieve hyper automation and are utilizing (or want to utilize) RPA to achieve this goal. As a C# / .Net developer it is essential for you to understand why businesses want to achieve hyper automation and learn how to use various tools and technologies such as RPA.

In order to stay competitive in the IT marketplace (especially one rocked by a pandemic and a recession), MS developers should consider learning .NET Core. I have heard from CIOs and CTOs that .NET Core is their next big push in their organizations. Riding the next wave in .NET as it has the ability to be truly cross-platform compatible. This gives the many .NET shops in the Northeast Ohio area the opportunity to enter into previously unavailable areas with their existing skills sets and applications. 

Another area to consider is upgrading and expanding your versatility in different frameworks. One of the first question hiring managers ask me when talking about a C# / .NET developer background is “what frameworks are they strong in?” Some of the specific frameworks that hiring managers have been looking for, recently, include:

  • .NET Core
  • Angular
  • React
  • .NET 5
  • ASP.NET
  • Blazor
  • React
  • Vue
  • EF Core

4. Job hopping

Be able to explain your career moves. Are you moving around too much in your career? While early on in your career, it is normal and can even be beneficial to work at a couple of different jobs. However, there has to be reasons behind each decision to change and as you start to progress in your career. A good rule of thumb is 3+ years at a time after your first job change. Hiring managers use a candidate’s history of job hopping as a compass in determining if they will be a fit for their company.

Some companies have a high turnover and will be able to look past frequent job changes, but most look for candidates that demonstrate dependability and loyalty (typically indicated by long tenures at companies).  A CIO recently told me that job hopping can make or break a seemingly great candidate, because of the uncertainty related to retention, engagement, and culture within the company. The moral of the story is that, unless you are a contractor, you need to make sure you think out each career decision you make and really examine your reasons for wanting to make a change.

A good framework to try to achieve is to not have more than 3 jobs in the past 10 years. What I have found over the years is that if you do have more than 3 or 4 jobs in the past 10 years hiring managers will often pass by your resume and keep looking. This does exclude contractors. 

5. Failing to develop a career roadmap

One way to help you in making thoughtful career decisions and in avoiding job hopping is developing a career road map. If you’re having trouble developing your own, find a mentor or hire a career coach. A career road map is a tool that you can use to develop a framework of how you want your career to go. The best thing to do is think about where you want to be in 3 to 5 years (short term) and 10-20 years (long term) from now in your career. 

What is your end goal?

Once you have that nailed, come up with a couple different paths based on what kind of skills you need, what kind of work you want to be doing, and what kind of companies or industries you want to work for. All of these factors go into shaping your career. 
 
An important note is remain flexible while traversing your roadmap. It should act as a system that can allow you to measure your progress and identify the right opportunities, but not as a rigid structure that must be followed to a T. Do not let the map hold you back. Think of it as a map of the US. There are many routes you can take to get from the east coast to the west coast, but as long as you have a sense of where you’re going you can make it to your destination.

Emerald’s suggestions

When it comes down to it, slight adjustments can have positive results on career trajectory and prospects. Avoid these mistakes by investing into yourself, reading books, getting a mentor, and being mindful of your work. Happy programming!

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