If you want the youtube version of this video, just click here and enjoy.
Edit: I have received a great deal of feedback on this post. An addendum is posted at the bottom.
TLDR; You want to know one method of becoming an unemployable developer? Stay stagnant for a reasonable amount of time. Doing it unknowingly. Worse, do it knowingly. Watch as you disappear.
This statement may be incorrect (do correct me if it is) but it seems to me that technology is one of the fastest moving fields, very broadly speaking, that anybody could find themselves working in. Perhaps not the fastest. It has to be pretty high on the list, though.
Raise your hands: how many of you remember the days when jQuery was all the rage? Do not misunderstand me, jQuery is still used and has a relevant place, but would I be wrong to state that it is not what it once was?
I remember when Mongo was this new fangled shiny database that was garnering all kinds of attention.
These are things that only changed in the last few years, maybe less.
Anyways, why do I mention this? If you read the title then you can probably hazard a guess. As a matter of fact, it may be redundant to write anything more.
But it seems important to provide at least one example of a developer whom I know and how she found herself in a bad spot.
Perhaps this article can serve as a warning to other developers out there.
This developer was in a constant battle at work. She called it "firefighting mode" and it almost never went away. I will not give specifics because I do not think they are important to the point. Suffice it to say, she had to struggle with a bad code base and bad data structure and bad management, among a few other things.
It was a difficult challenge to make progress against these thing. She would go in to work in the morning, struggle all day, then come out at the end of the day feeling frustrated and unwilling to do anything else. It was emotionally draining.
However, despite that, she was consistently focused and active in trying to make things better. Sometimes that meant some overtime hours. Sometimes it just meant she had to step away from the screen for the day and not look back until the next morning. Commitment to the cause is definitely one of her strengths.
At some point, the she realized she could not keep working at this company anymore. Progress wasn't being made (or it was too slow coming) and she had to quit.
Unfortunately, as she began looking around at her options in the tech industry, she rapidly realized she was massively out of date with the skills being asked for. She had spent two years of her time focused on keeping up the status quo for the company she was at that she didn't realized how much ground she was losing outside of that.
She ended up having to take a lower role with lower pay and she only got that job because a friend of hers worked at the company she applied for and vouched for her.
This is what happens when you're not paying enough attention. If you don't look at what's really going on around you then you risk becoming stagnant. You risk allowing yourself to fall out of date and become far less useful to the industry because you haven't been able to keep up.
This doesn't mean you need to be coding 24/7 and doing a zillion side projects and submitting to open source code all the time.
It means you need to aware enough to realize when you're not feeling the pulse of your job anymore and have the sense to do something about it before your pulse no longer matters.
Based on the rather large feedback I have received, I want to clarify that this post has some value to those in the web development space. Web development is somewhat of a hot mess right now and there's always something shiny and new and employers are changing their requirements rapidly. But there are plenty of sectors in technology that do not move that fast and where you can stay focused and safe for, sometimes, years and years.