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John Selawsky
John Selawsky

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Setting a Career Goals in Software Development: A Guide

While setting career goals for yourself, the first principle is to be sure being a software developer is exactly what you want. Once you have set your mind on that, and also gone through all the technologies and computer programming languages that you want to specify in, you can set your tactical goals. If looking at the job providers on websites does not satisfy you, go to IT forums and ask other people from your field of specialization about jobs, employers and the IT market as such. You will have in your hands a pretty long list with all the information you lay your hands on. These just need to be structured, broken down and divided into milestones, all for your benefit.

Follow the S.M.A.R.T principle which includes setting your goals in such a way such that they are:

  • Smart
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

To start your journey to becoming a successful software developer, pick a programming language to specialize in. What would be better than Java?

How to Set Career Goals?

Why does goal setting even matter? Mainly because all the successful people in the world set goals which they break off into milestones, so that they can look for a long-term future that they can be proud of.

The best way to go about setting your goals are:

  • Focus on what is necessary: It is absolutely necessary to use the S.M.A.R.T principle of specific, motivational and measurable, articulate and acceptable, realistic and relevant, and time-based and track-worthy to get ahead with your goals steadily. Be sure to remember what exactly it is you want to learn, what job profile you want and what kind of responsibilities you want to be involved with.
  • Organize your time: Compartmentalize your goals into specific time slots to make sure you complete them in a particular time-bound interval. Make sure you do not overburden yourself and set realistic time-bound goals.
  • Build a straight pathway: After checking out all the courses, setting your mind on what you want to learn and do, build a straight path to your long-term future career zenith where you see yourself successful.

Strategic Career Goals

Putting the strategic career driven goals into place is necessary in almost all professions, but it is absolutely essential once you decide that you want to be a part of the IT industry. Other than the fact that IT is a continuously changing arena, and you need to pick up new skills and stay up to date on every new technological advancement, you must also keep note of the immediate trends in the job market. For better understanding, segregate your goals into the following:

  • Strategic
  • Tactical

Strategic goals are basically the reply to the question that HR recruiters keep on asking: β€œwhere exactly do you see yourself in five years time?”. Instead of getting flummoxed, ask yourself the same question.

**They are of the following types:

  • Technical goals: All the goals which deal with which skills you want to cultivate, which courses and resources are required for them and where you can know more about the software development programmers.
  • Job goals: This lets you check out all the ways to define the arena you want to get a job in:
  • Programming: Understanding and specializing in one or more computer programming languages, design, debugging and testing.
  • Communication: Being a part of the team to send clear instructions and information via emails and messages.
  • Creative and Logical Thinking: Being the planner and the goal-setter for the company.
  • Initiative: Being ambitious, available and ready to take responsibility.
  • Entrepreneurship goals: For those who want to get their own thing and make their software business a success, goal setting entails your specializations, finances, employment handles, registration and marketing. Being in the IT space for a few years is recommended before taking this plunge.
  • Leadership goals: Taking responsibility is the key word here. This is usually alloted to you once you reach the Senior Software Engineer and the Principal Engineer or Architect levels in your job profile, usually taking 5–8 years in the IT world.
  • Community goals: Giving back to the community, in whatever way possible, must be a part of your goal setting. Recruiting, mentoring and supporting are the major ideas here.

Tactical Goals

The following are some of the tactical goals that you can start on:

  • Get Certified: If you are serious about getting into the IT industry, you need to focus on getting verified certificates that show off your skills during hiring. There are vendor focused certifications, based on a certain language course. There are certificates to be had from the Software Engineering Institute. Also, the IEEE Computer Society provides two certifications that have a lot of value- Certificate Software Development Associate (CSDA) and Certificate Software Development Professional (CSDP).
  • Learn a New Programming Language: There are so many computer languages to choose from in the programming world. Placing a goal before you in order to learn a new programming language is important. You can do this to get ahead of others in your field or just to gain more knowledge. To learn Java, click here.
  • Learn a New Technology in your Preferred Language: Just languages are not enough sometimes. You could also learn new technologies introduced in your specialized language, including a new tool or software. It could be a design feature, development environment, bug fixer and so on. For example, learning Hibernate if you focus on Java.
  • Lead a Team of Software Developers: You need to have enough skills and years of experience to reach this level, but if guiding people and taking responsibilities for software projects and a team is what you want, along with the extra salary and respect, then this is just for you!
  • Improve other skills related to software developing: These could include people skills, communication tactics, management practices, productivity in a time period, or database designing.

Make a Plan on How to Reach Your Goal

Divide Your Tasks by Levels

To get an accurate understanding of the work you need to commit to to get success, divide your task into smaller milestones like:

  • The skills or languages you want to learn and the resources needed to do the same
  • Overall goal, your ambition and your objectives

Set a Deadline

Make sure you set deadlines or time limits to your goals. These are not for you to tweak as you want to. You need to be strict enough to stick to them.

Monitor Your Progress

Try to monitor your progress by week and go ahead accordingly.

Find the Resources to Follow

Set on getting started to become a software developer? Then the following courses, blogs and videos will guide you along. Some courses even have a trial period for you to test the waters before diving right in.

Courses Offered:

  • CodeGym: This is a learning platform which has more focus on learning through practice, with 40 levels of theory and 1200+ tasks to test your skills.
  • Udacity: With 200+ free coding courses, Udacity also offers the Nanodegree courses that give you specific skill sets like data analysis etc.
  • Codecademy: Hugely popular, this one offers free language courses and technical skillset training, through interactive learning.
  • W3Schools: Free materials, quizzes and coding exercises are just some of the expert training offered here.


  • Envato Tuts+: With 1290+ video courses, e-books and lots of free tutorials, this blog is a super guide to learning coding.
  • A List Apart: This one is interactive, with authors who write books, host events and even run a design blog. They are good for learning design, business, UX etc.
  • CSS- Tricks: With extra code snippets, and CSS almanacs, this one now goes deeper into Sass, PHP, Java etc.

YouTube videos:

The following are some great YouTube videos you can check out:

Be Up to Date

The IT industry keeps changing with new ideas and technology coming into the fold. So, here’s what you will have to do if you do not want to remain stuck with the tech dinosaurs:

  • Follow industry social media accounts: Tag along with the companies and the IT entrepreneurs you admire on their social media pages and connect with IT professionals from different companies across the globe.
  • Make time for online training: Online training platforms offer updated courses to help you upgrade your skills. A large selection has been hinted at in the last section.
  • Attend virtual events and webinars: Create a set of networks at events, be they large scale or more intimate.
  • Adjust your plan according to changes in an IT sphere: Set Google Alerts on any new trends and keep following the news to get updated information and adjust your IT company accordingly.


Placing a well thought out strategic goal is the first step on the ladder to your success. If you are serious, diligent and interested in coding, it can change your life and you just might shake up the IT world altogether. Tiny steps forward are what you need, like to learn Java at CodeGym. Flex your skills and be the new change in the constantly evolving technology world.

First published at Towards Dev.

Latest comments (1)

abh1navv profile image
Abhinav Pandey

Nice suggestions. Good resource for people trying to define their path.