Paul McGrath


Find the Work That Gets You Noticed

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

A little while ago, an ex-Google employee wrote about the challenges he experienced while trying to get promoted, and subsequent departure from the company.

While the article was more focused on generation of meaning and individualisation, he brought up an interesting point: how do you get noticed for your work?

Often the work that gets you recognition is that which aligns with the business objectives. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, a lot of the time as developers we tend to decide for ourselves whether a particular effort has merit and business value. We think “if I keep working on X and making X better, the business will surely notice me”.

This approach often doesn’t work out as well as hoped, however.

Thinking Strategically

It’s worth considering a more tactical approach if you’re finding that your work is going unseen, and your previous efforts aren’t making the dent that you expected.

Amazon’s process is to “Write the press release first”, which has enormous merit in proving out and validating your interest in a particular area, before committing to the work.

In a similar vein, Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s Cracking the Coding Interview will tell you to work on projects with visibility, which means you have pre-validated work items on which to focus.

There’s a simple common thread of value among these ideas, and it’s that in order to be successful, we need to be both better communicators, and better listeners.

These skills are often overlooked, and have far more value than learning the framework or language of the month.

So, if you find yourself struggling to move up the ladder due to your coding efforts, try and reconsider your approach.

You may find it’s not your code that’s at fault, but only your way of communicating or choosing these efforts.