re: How do you stay flexible in your career? VIEW POST


I think of my career to date as being built up on a small set of core skills and a larger smattering of non-core skills. The core skills are the most difficult and take a long time to develop, but once you've got them, they last a long time, through multiple jobs. The non-core skills are the flashy, faddy stuff, like the latest architecture style or library.

It's a bit like the Linux kernel - you can frequently install and upgrade the layers and applications running on top, but the kernel itself changes less frequently.

For me, the earliest core skills were simply programming itself. Later, the Windows and web platforms. Now I'm trying to improve in algorithms, math and design thinking.

There are a host of other slightly less obvious skills that also matter - communicating, writing, dealing with politics, etc. Those also can improve gradually over time.

As I've spent years practicing and refining the core, I've become good enough that I can get work on the back of it. However, as each new job introduces its own unique set of challenges, I can take advantage of that to learn some new skills. Sometimes those new skills lead to further work, sometimes they're a bit of a dead-end. In either case I'm Ok, because the core skills are still strong.

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