Review Resume

Be a portfolio manager not just an employee

This is just another way to say the same thing we say elsewhere. As soon as you do something log it on your resume.  It is easy to remove something from your resume when you need to send less to someone.  But it is very difficult to work on a project for a few years and then recall in a split second what it was you did when it is time to polish your resume.

But being a “portfolio manager” isn’t just about maintaining a resume is it?  If you watch the career of a successful movie star and compare it with a movie star that isn’t so successful – what is one of the key differences between them? Picking the right next film to act in. There are actors that take movies as they get them and do them all. This is a hit or miss strategy – but definitely not a plan. Other actors read through a script and are very choosy about the next film they take on. Even if the love the idea of a movie – they will actively turn a script down if it doesn’t align with their goals for their career.

Why don’t we do that? Why do we apply for 5 jobs and take the one that accepts us first? Why don’t we interview a company while they are interviewing us. Be patient as we collect offers. And then weigh the offers we get against our career goals. Weigh the offers with where we are and where we would like to go.  Its as if we have a stop watch over our head timing us for how long it takes to go from Job A to Job B. Isn’t it more important that we focus on getting the job that satisfy’s our career goals?  Shouldn’t it also satisfy our core value requirements?

Being a portfolio manager is more about being a project manager for your careers goal. If you are a programmer today working on pulling tickets. Perhaps your next step is to become a team lead. Or perhaps you would want to jump over to being a people manager. Or perhaps you are going the architect path instead. If you know where you want to go you can ask yourself “is this job just going to keep me in the programmer role?”. If yes, then say no!

The nice thing about our industry is that the more things you try the more likely you are to find your happy place. Be a programmer. Then be a team lead. Then be an architect. Then be a dev manager. Try being an engineering director. These varied activates will give you the insight you need to pick your permanent career goals. Or, if you are like me, you will find that you like all of these roles and will strive to find a place where you can wear a stack of hats.

But without the appropriate experience doing the “every-job” you won’t know what you are missing out on. You might miss your real calling.

Write all of your experiences down in a public tool so that people can see where you have been. They can see what you have done. If you don’t like it, you can say that. Be 100% honest and transparent. If people like what you are offering, and what you are offering is true, you are more likely to find a good match for you and your employer.

Being an employee of a company is needed to satisfy the relationship you have with an employer. And that is good to understand. But don’t forget that in our world it is very normal to not work at the same place for long periods of time. Be sure that you acknowledge the fact that you are the employee of your own company too. Make sure that your sales sheet is always up to date so that when you need a new employer or client you can clearly tell the next guy what your capabilities are.

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Andrew Siemer

Chief Architect at Clear Measure. Farmer at Friendly Pastures. Software consultant at Siemer for Hire. Random dude at AndrewSiemer.com. Author of 3 books published by Packt Publishing. Self publishing author of two books in progress at LeanPub. All around programmer dude.

  • Stephen Howe

    Nice analogy with the actors!

    Trying a new role is difficult. Do you have any recommendations on how to make it easier?

  • There are really two ways. The safe way. And the risky way.

    The safe way means you take on side projects in that role on a small scale. This might be a 2nd job. A project for a friend. Some free work. Something where you might be sacrificing some money – to get exposure. SO that when you are done you can add something to your portfolio (and your resume…but they are different).

    The risky way it to get a new job every 6-8 months…where the new job puts you in a slightly more elevated position or a role with more responsibility but same title. This approach takes some balls obviously. But the thing you have to understand about most jobs is that they hired you to do a job. If they get a new job – many company’s see value in keeping you doing what you are already doing. Why would they move you? You are already good at something. Active career management is not something most company’s have time/money/interest to invest in. Which is why there is turn over of the top people…and the not so top people tend to stay there for long periods of time. Places like this are optimized for people seeking comfort – not satisfaction.

    Either way – it is always up to you to actively manage your career. Set some goals. And like a project plan – manage backwards from your goals to how you can realistically achieve those goals. Then apply elbow grease. You will get there.