Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Career Growth 101 for the ColdFusion Developer

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career, and inquired as to how I got to the point I am at on my own. This is a subject generally reserved for informal chit-chat among developers at conference social events and after user group meetings, and is one that is very important to each of us.

It also brings up the fundamental question of whether or not there is a proven, easy-to-follow formula for career success as a CF developer.

The truth is that there is not any set formula to achieving success, as we each define success differently. Success for some is measured solely by their financial compensation and status. For others, success means happiness on the job and with their life - perhaps they place more emphasis on the people and environment they work in every day as well as on their vacation and other "personal luxury" benefits. Still others describe success purely by notoriety and demand - on both their achievements and their reputation.

For most of us, our career objective is in reality a combination of all or some of these goals. Obviously, everyone values their paycheck and most of us are hoping to see our salaries increase over time. Of course, money does you no good without a personal life and liberties to enjoy that hard-earned money outside the workplace, so some emphasis must be placed on quality of life. For many developers their job is just their job, and they don't take any interest in public reputation or pride in their achievements, so long as the money and quality of life is satisfactory. Those who do measure success this way most often do so knowing that a good reputation and great achievements shown on paper also translate to better pay and negotiating power when discussing compensation with employers and prospective employers.

Though the goals and path necessary to achieve these goals may differ from developer to developer, I do have some sound advice and career exercises that will aid you whatever your goals may be.

Financial goals are best determined by evaluating where you are now, and determining where you want to be in, say, five years. If what you want is to retire in five years, then you need to do one of two things. You can work for a company you believe is going to go public, get bought, or do so well publicly that the pay-off will be enough to retire on. You also need to assure yourself that you have an employment contract with a company like this that guarantees you enough interest in the company that your interest will be worth enough to retire on. If you are fortunate enough to find a company and position like this, you are on your way. The other approach is to develop a commercial product yourself in the form of off-the-shelf software or a Web site that will generate revenue through advertising, membership/services fees, and/or being bought.

This is a lot easier said than done, but if you have a good idea, the payoff could be substantial. With either of these approaches you also need to put a value on security. Consider yourself blessed if you are employed by and have interest in a company that not only has a good chance at being bought or going public, but that also offers job security. A very large percentage of these companies are at a higher risk of folding and never realizing their dream. Developing your own product or Web site is an even higher risk if you're completely self-employed, and a good approach would be to keep your day job and work on said project on weekends and evenings until you feel comfortable that the project will succeed.

If your expectations aren't so high that you are planning retirement just yet, there are several ways to improve your worth and command a better salary. In today's job market, a ColdFusion developer who knows object-oriented programming concepts and how to apply them in CF is worth quite a bit more and is in more demand than a developer with twice the experience but who doesn't have OO experience. Learn about OOP and master CFCs and the techniques for developing OO CF apps, and emphasize this on your resume. Knowledge and experience with a framework(s) carries weight with some companies and is another thing to highlight on your resume, though most companies that are looking for a "framework developer" tend to accept inexperience with a framework if the hire knows OO. Learning Flex 2 or Java certainly also helps to make you more marketable - in particular the market for CF developers who also know Flex is a rapidly expanding one. ColdFusion Developer Certification doesn't generally carry much weight in my experience, but it does look good on paper and some employers and contracts do require it - and getting certified doesn't take too much time, effort, or money. Aside from having decent knowledge with whatever database an employer is using, most of the other technical skills that set a developer apart from the pack are more related to management. Knowledge and experience with a source control system like subversion tends to carry weight with employers, as does (in fewer circumstances though) experience with Ant for deployment.

Speaking of management, being in a tech/team lead or architect role generally comes with a higher salary, as well as more responsibility. So does project management, though emphasizing project management and/or looking for project management positions does mean that you are committing to a career path that will most likely take you away from day-to-day coding and into a path of management and executive management. If that is a career path that you find appealing, by all means pursue it - there will always be a demand for PMs, and their pay tends to be really good. If you have experience leading/managing projects or development teams, definitely emphasize this on your resume and in your interviews.

If your goals are more focused on quality of life, by which I mean vacation, low stress, etc., it's a bit more difficult to state a formula for achieving your goals. Be aware that working for an employer as an internal employee who builds internal applications certainly does tend to mean more moderate hours and less stress surrounding deadlines than working for a solutions company where you are developing applications for clients. This is on an employer-by-employer basis, but is a practical piece of advice. Be aware that pay is not always as good in these positions, but again - that's on a case by case basis. Whether your goals are solely financially driven or include aspirations toward public notoriety and other noteworthy achievements, the best way to attain either/both is to work on large, complex applications. Applications that require a large team, that have high public visibility, and/or that require pushing ColdFusion to its limits tend to be the ones that developers learn the most working on, and also carry a lot of weight with employers. Who you've worked with (i.e., being on a development team with a reputable developer) also tends to carry a lot of weight and gives you an outstanding reference. Other credentials that impress employers include community activity - speaking at user groups and conferences, teaching classes, having a popular blog, and writing/tech editing for magazines (CFDJ) and books. When I explained this I was immediately asked why teaching and community activity makes one more desirable to employers since it doesn't really mean you know more. The truth is that I'm not sure (unless the employer values these things) but it does look good on paper and it lends credibility...and for many employers it's a clear sign that you have good written and oral presentation skills...something that many companies look for in their IT staff but is very hard to find. I definitely advise developers seeking to make themselves more marketable to write and present, and if you are offered the opportunity to teach or to become a certified instructor, definitely don't pass up the chance unless you really have no desire to be an instructor.


More Stories By Simon Horwith

Simon Horwith is the CIO at AboutWeb, LLC, a Washington, DC based company specializing in staff augmentation, consulting, and training. Simon is a Macromedia Certified Master Instructor and is a member of Team Macromedia. He has been using ColdFusion since version 1.5 and specializes in ColdFusion application architecture, including architecting applications that integrate with Java, Flash, Flex, and a myriad of other technologies. In addition to presenting at CFUGs and conferences around the world, he has also been a contributing author of several books and technical papers.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...