Respect can be a local currency

In the IT industry we are reputed to be serial job hoppers. While this may seem a little unfair, if it applies to you then you should consider where you’re spending your limited additional time and effort. First, a disclaimer: you need to invest enough time and effort into your current job to stay employed.

Now that’s out of the way let’s look at our normal days. All those extra hours and hard work you put in everyday? That’s all local currency. In the best case your current employer and co-workers will hopefully appreciate it, you’ll be recognised for your outcome and ability, and hopefully be considered an integral part of the team. But that’s almost as far as it goes. No one outside your employer, and depending on the size and organisation, maybe not even throughout it, will ever know that you pulled a 70 hour week to get that one release done and dusted or stepped up and handled a Sunday emergency. It’s possible that a small part will transfer into the wider work. This typically appears as references, LinkedIn praise etc but most of it won’t go with you when you change roles.

If you’re someone who likes to change jobs, short permanent roles or contracting, you should carefully consider the balance between local and remote respect. Writing blog posts and articles, releasing open source projects, giving presentations, these things have value in the wider world as well as hopefully at work and may serve you better in reaching your career goals. Some companies are wonderful at unifying these two threads but at the end of the day it’s your career and you need to deliberately weigh the options.

All of those possible career value adds eat at your time, and not everyone is in a position to do all or even some of them, but where you can it helps to build up a portfolio of subjects larger than your day job and makes future interviews more about culture than demonstrating technical minutia. Nothing beats a pre-warmed audience, especially one that already uses your code or reads your blog.

This has been on my mind recently as my working hours creep up and my personal projects wither and I think it’s something worth taking a moment to deliberately consider every few quarters.