Advice for software developers -
(Mention something according to your view in comment box :))
Solve a problem. A business one - that created the need for the software you are developing.

Software is such a complex product (like cars and houses), it requires a team of engineers. Employers pigeonhole developers into little specializations. You can happily stay a sniper, machine gunner, or radio operator in your squad arrangement. You can even go to the officer’s academy (business school) to be promoted through official channels. But you need to try it first: comprehending the whole battle and rising above the specialist rank. At least in your mind.

You don’t have to write the entire system’s code to do that. Just look at the big picture, identify problems not directly related to you, raise them, and help your teammates to solve them. Solve some yourself - something outside your specialty. Become a generalist.

Will your bosses reward you for that? Not a chance. You are not doing it to earn official brownie points or even get noticed. In fact you won’t be noticed in a good way. Your boss would think you are undermining him/her and aiming for his seat. You don’t. That’s a dead end too.

Even if they reward you, don’t get comfortable. Well, that depends on your ambitions. How much “higher” “salary” you want? The most important skill you just learned is solving a problem. You are a project starter now. Or project savior. You can do anything: research, analyze, design, and implement. If you need help with coding, you can split that work with others, while coordinating the development. Yes, your boss needs to be afraid. Who cares? Let him/her sit in meetings and write useless documentation. You can produce the same system w/o your company’s bureaucratic overhead.

So now you have two paths. If you know a valid niche: a consumer or business problem to be solved, you can start your own company. Hire capable friends, find like-minded people. Don’t quit your day job. You can manage “dual-tasking”. Today’s dysfunctional IT workload is not that high. And the abundance of open-source technology makes everything virtually free. Except for the developer’s time. You can pay others in equity - if you need them.

If you want the security of an established company, apply there. It doesn’t need to be your current employer’s competitor. You can go anywhere - after researching the company business, ideally their pain points, and bringing the solution plan. Or even a prototype.

They’ll look at you differently, even if you are completely off base about their pressing problems. Just the effort alone shows who you are - a high-level problem solver. I hope you understand the difference between a problem solver - who makes things work and the pain disappear; And a formal “Solutions Architect” selling something on behalf of his/her consulting company - or purchasing if he/she works in the IT department.

Beats coding exercises, doesn’t it? I know it’s not up to you at the interview. What’s up to you is finding a company to apply at the higher, problem-solver level. It won’t be easy. The current hiring system is focused on acronym resume filtering. Companies hire either scientists or acronym specialists. Not problem solvers. As much, as I hate this generic advice, w/o a an independent unbiased recruiting system, aimed to find problem-solvers, you’ll need to network - easier said, than done.

My point is, however you get to that interview, through recruiters or the best connections, you still need to convince them that you can solve a real multi-million problem to command the higher pay. Otherwise you’ll just be a slightly higher paid pawn, reaching your salary cap in a few years after a few job hops.

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