For a while I have been mentoring a friend and I thought I might share some top tips I have implemented in my career so far.

Hard Work

At school I was told: “Only in the dictionary does Success come before Work“. Yes it is a bit of a corny saying however it has stuck in my head and it’s true. If you want to get anywhere you need to work at it. For many years I just drifted along, but as soon as I knuckled down and worked hard my career started going somewhere.

Write a Blog

Writing is an important skill that you need to work at to improve. If you commit to writing one blog post a week this will help to improve this skill. Even after 150+ blog posts I still feel I need to improve. Not only that it will also help others learn something from you and shows a willingness to contribute to the community. If a Hiring Manager reads your blog he can see some of the stuff you know or care about and may help give you the edge over more experienced candidates.

Soft Skills

This is one I need to work on but you should concentrate on the so called “Soft Skills“. Soft Skills are the skills you have for dealing with others. Are you good at talking to people? Or good at getting requirements out of business owners? If so you have some soft skills, don’t underestimate the value that these bring to a team and keep developing them.

Build a Side Project

Start building a side project, it doesn’t matter what it is but start building something. I started building a Xamarin app but I have learnt loads of other connected things while doing this, ViewModels, APIs, Build and Deployment processes, Azure Functions. It also gives you ammunition for things to blog about. If you are short of ideas try solving a problem or rebuild something you use.

Use your spare time

During the day there are moments you can reclaim for learning stuff. There are lots of podcast which discuss useful development topics, listen to these while driving to work. Subscribe to pluralsight and listen to this while washing up. Don’t get too concerned with learning everything, however think how much more you are learning than not listening at all.

I’m not ready!

We are never ready to take that next step, it is so easy to make excuses like I need to learn x, or know y. The only way to know if you are ready is to try and to keep trying. Iterate as you go so you keep improving yourself. If you wait before you start trying you will end up waiting forever. If you start trying now you will make some small progress and have a better idea of what you need to do to achieve your goals.

This post is also available on DEV.