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Hi All,

I'm a software developer turned software development manager that has worked at the same small but growing company since graduation and for the last 7-ish years now.  Since working at the company I have been promoted from software developer to team leader and then to my current post of software development manager which I've now been doing for just over 4 years.

At a recent appraisal with my boss I was offered the chance of a fairly generous pay rise which I have yet to decide on as recently I've been questioning what I should do with my career and more specifically if I really need to move to another company.

I have two major concerns:

a) Although I still do development work, the technology that we are currently using for software development is pretty legacy stuff and is not giving me any experience that seems to be desired in the industry any longer.  Neither would I want to move to a job that used the same technology.

b) My management experience is not based around any training at all and really is only based on what I think "is best" and things that I can pick up from other sources like Manager Tools (which has helped me absolutely loads).  My team do give me good feedback about my management but as the company is big into graduate recruitment I only have one team member who has previously had managers at other companies.  Due to all of this I don't really feel that I would have the confidence to move straight to another similar role in another company.

Given all of the above I find myself in a position where I am not desirable for many of the software development jobs that I can find and also consider myself unsuitable for the management roles out there.  As such I now find myself looking at Graduate Software Developer roles while being quite a few years into my career and as this is a step down it makes me wonder if I should change jobs at all....

I'd be really interested and grateful to hear people's opinions on whether I should move job or not and if so whether management or software development sounds like it would be most appropriate?  Also, would taking a Graduate Software Developer role after all of this time look bad on my CV?

jib88's picture

 I think you might be over-estimating the amount of "management" training that most managers get, even in large companies. What you're picking up here on MT is probably tons better than 95% of the official management training most new managers get. And that's conservative.... it's probably closer to 99.9%

I don't really understand the concept of being offered a generous pay rise, but not taking it. You're telling me that getting paid more money is one of your biggest problems? :)    Does it come with some sort of long-term employment stipulation or something?

I think you'd do just fine at another management job at another company. You're probably a bit young, but that won't hurt you as much as your lack of confidence will. 

edi's picture

Hehe yeah I probably should have clarified the money thing a bit... The pay conversation came about as my boss was wanting to make sure that I was comfortable enough to work there for the next few years and so I'd feel a bit dishonest about arranging the pay rise while basically thinking about moving on ASAP...

I can imagine you are totally right about the quality of most "official" management training as well, I think it's just the fact that I've never known anything else that makes me wonder what I might have been missing out on so to speak.

Thanks for your comments, I'm sure your totally right about my confidence (or rather lack of) hurting my chances so I'll have to try and sort that out some way or another...

robin_s's picture

If you've never had any management training besides what you get on Manager Tools, you have less "junk" to unlearn!   You're ahead of the game, my friend.  

jib88's picture

I would suggest you take the pay rise and ask for more responsibility to go along with the extra money. If they're paying you a lot more, they should expect more out of you (and it sounds like that's what you want as well). Not taking the pay rise might send a bad message. Unless you're set on leaving imminently, take the extra money and ask for more to do. If you're still not satisfied with your job you can leave after a year or so with the understanding that you're not able to grow in your role, regardless of the pay rise.

Working at a growing company is a good thing, and it sounds like you're well regarded there. It would be a shame to leave that just to get a chance to play with the latest tech... Maybe modernizing things a bit is something you can do at your present company?

maura's picture

I think JB88 hit on the solution in that last sentence.  Think about it this way:  part of your dissatisfaction in your current role is that you're stuck on legacy technology and you don't feel marketable.  That problem is bigger than you and your personal career track. 

How much longer can this small company stay on that legacy technology and hope to find good employees who are able to work on it and want to work on it?   Before long you'll be left employing only the dinosaurs who are unwilling or, more likely, unable to secure a role where the action is.  If they don't upgrade their technology, they won't be able to get or keep good people for long either...so how can they hope to stay competitive and turn a profit for long?

I think you should take the salary bump along with some increased responsibility:  namely, as software dev manager you need to convince the company that it's in their own best interest to keep up with the competition in terms of technology, and then help them implement the necessary changes.  That would be good for them, and really good for you in terms of your marketability should you choose to leave eventually.  Don't just cut and run - stay and fix it.

edi's picture

Thanks for the comments everyone, it's really useful to hear some different perspectives on things!

JIB and Maura, I agree that I am probably in one of the best positions to spearhead the modernisation, but what effect do you think it has on my future employability to have stayed at the same company for my whole professional working life so far (and for a few years longer if I stay to do this)?

jib88's picture

Staying at the same company is almost always a positive in my book, and I work in tech where people move around a lot more often. It's especially so given you are growing in your role and responsibilities. It shows maturity and wisdom to me. It's much easier to get things done and have an impact when you have good relationships, and you have an easier time with that when you've been somewhere a while. 

That doesn't mean you should not consider moving on, but I wouldn't be worried about staying a few more years reflecting negatively. An interviewer will likely ask why you are moving on after being stable for so long, but that's easily answered by telling them you want broader industry exposure, more responsibility, different experiences, etc.

Keep your eyes out for new opportunities. Cultivate relationships with good recruiters. But above all, continue to deliver excellent results and try to develop yourself at your present company. It sounds like your company is growing and you're able to grow with it. That's a good situation to be in. 

afmoffa's picture

JIB88 writes "What you're picking up here on MT is probably tons better than 95% of the official management training most new managers get. And that's conservative.... it's probably closer to 99.9%"

I absolutely agree. And I think that line of thinking is irrelevant. Sad but true. If a hiring manager wants someone with a degree in management, that hiring manager is unlikely to care that you've listened to podcasts instead. Even though I love these podcasts, they don't cut much ice with people who value credentials over capabilities.

I agree with Maura that you must do all you can to stay current in your field, and that means one of two things:

1. You take coursework, at accredited institutions, in new technologies, or

2. You find some way to integrate new technologies into your workflow. That may mean changing your company's workflow, or it may mean changing to a different company.

I stayed in print publishing about two years too long at my last job, because the money was nice and I was content. Big mistake. I'm several years behind some of my colleagues/competitors who have been focused on iPad, Kindle, and other E-book devices. Stay current.

flexiblefine's picture

Just to echo AFMoffa's last point -- stay current. Catching up is (or at least feels) harder to do.

I'm a web developer in a Microsoft environment, still working with "classic" ASP. There's ten years of ASP.NET for me to catch up with...

flexiblefine
Houston, Texas, USA
DiSC: 1476

mmann's picture

 About the only thing I can add to this thread is that good will doesn't travel.  You've built up good cred where you are now.  You'll have to start all over again when you change companies.

  Good luck!
--Michael

duckboxxer's picture

I completely understand.  You are at the point in the technology career progression in which you must decide.  Either the management track or the technologist track.  There are situations where you have to do both, as in, it isn't a choice it is just a part of the situation, namely a small company.  It sounds like at your current company you either live with the aging technology or am patient enough till your career progresses enough to influences the technology choice. 

There is a sort of in between choice.  I'm toeing that line now.  I call it the paperwork side of the project.  There's the functional management track and then the project management track.  I'm sitting in a business analyst role more on a project management track.  The training there is to get your PMP certification.  PMI has monthly meetings you can attend to see if that might be where you want to go.  I still try to keep up with current technologies.  I have to speak to the developers and not sound stupid.  There are plenty of articles, podcasts, email lists, yada, yada, yada online to keep up with the cutting edge. 

So it's not necessarily which company, first it's what do you want to do in the long term.  Technologist, manager; if manager, functional or project; consultants can be SMEs or generalists.