What's Career Ownership? How Can It Help Me?

James Hickey on May 06, 2019

Career ownership is just another way of talking about taking control of your career. It's about recognizing that your career is an organic thing t... [Read Full]
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Another great article, beautifully written. Thank you for sharing James :)

I love the idea of reaching out to new contacts, ex-colleagues and managers just to chat. I feel like LinkedIn messaging is so often used for recruiters cold calls, and not much else.


Thanks Helen!

LinkedIn kinda feels like a necessary evil, but it's not so bad if you ignore the recruiters 😋


They certainly have some interesting keyword searches sometimes :D

I think I must have reached some kind of milestone the other day when I got a message from a recruiter looking for a Java dev, who was very interested in the JavaScript course I completed a few years ago.


Great post, as usual. Career ownership is SO important. When I was coming up in the business, managers/directors did take some responsibility for your career path (hard to believe I know), but I have seen that fade away as the years have passed, and only in some rare big companies (10K+ employees) have I seen anything in the way of career planning and even that is rare.

Gone are the days of pensions, free health insurance and people looking out for your long term career. Every technologist must plant the seeds, manage, water, cultivate and harvest the fruits of their learning and labor to ensure that they are moving in the direction they want and/or need for their long term goals, even if those goals are simple.

When I was at my first full-time tech job, I set my sights on being a VP of IT by or before I was 45. I missed the goal by 5 years, but I did make the goal. Planning, picking the right jobs, projects, companies and a lot of hard work and risk taking were all a part of that.

Goals change but the methodology remains. I'm back with my first love - coding, and my goals are simple now - I'm 61 and I'd like to both grow and not be promoted to management again (not as easy as it sounds) until I'm ready to retire, around 70ish - I'd like to make it an even 50y as a coder, but my eyes may dictate otherwise. I still need t look for the right projects, roles, the right risks to gamble on and stay current with architecture, databases, languages, etc because ultimately, no one is responsible for my success but me.

Thanks again for spelling out what they don't teach in school - the need for tech street smarts.


Good suggestions. What would you say to someone that is generally not interested in blogging or speaking?


Awesome question!

I think the question re-phrased might be "How do I show others and the broader community what value I can bring without speaking or blogging?"

You can build a reputation among those you've directly worked with. You might have solved some tough problems in the companies you worked for.

The occassional post on LinkedIn, twitter, etc. just stating some result you achieved can help too ("Our team just built this really awesome thing X").

If you don't want to get involved on social media, you can still get involved in the local community (just attending user groups but not speaking, etc.)

Taking on the big, difficult projects at work.

Find a need in the dev community and build a tool to help?

In the end, I guess you get out what you put in?


I can get with that. I ask because it seems like we're always telling juniors "You need to blog and speak as often as you can to have a career in software development", which may not be a good fit for everyone. I spoke at RailsConf a couple of times; rarely go to meetups and my LinkedIn blows up all the time. At some point, IMHO, it's more valuable to be excellent at your job than to be excellent talking about your job.

I'm not trying be that contrarian "ackshully..." brogrammer. I'm simply saying for those of us who view social media as The Black Plague 2.0, there are opportunities for us to shine (as you have shown above, so thanks for that).

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