“Should I stay or should I go?”

I’ve been a mobile developer for the past 4 years, and developer “in general” for the last 12 years now. During that time I did a lot of different projects, I had my own company, and I worked for other companies. I did projects alone, or as a part of a team, and I was in teams either as a team member or as a team leader (for the last 2 years I was a team leader in 2 mobile teams), so I could say that I saw all kinds of development processes in my career and that by now I have a “hunch” and an ability for early detection of when something’s doing great, or going in a wrong direction.

People say that senior developers are most likely to change the job when they get bored. When you think about that, it actually makes sense. Senior developers usually have a great position in company, and a pretty good salary, so why would they change jobs? Well… If you tend to keep in touch with new technologies and to professionally improve yourself, you need a company that inspires growth, and lets you explore new things, and from my experience (and experience of some of my colleagues) companies in Serbia are quite conservative, and they don’t feel like investigating new things and improving their products, as long as the product works and brings the money.

This is wrong on so many levels, and I’ll point just the obvious reasons:

  1. Your product might be good now, but in 2 years the technological progress will make it obsolete and you’ll need to create a new one basically from scratch, or with some serious changes to the current one, so that would cost the company more than making a R&D department that would be actually in charge of making sure your product is ready for tomorrow
  2. Your developers are awesome at the moment, but if you don’t give them to do anything new and they do the same old job every day for the next 2 years, they’ll also become obsolete, as there will be so many new things to learn that your old product (from point 1) won’t get properly updated in the next 2 or 3 iterations until everyone learns their way around new technologies, and even then, there might be already something new on the market, so you’ll end up chasing the progress instead of being a part of it.

I could put here more than 2 reasons, but I believe that these 2 are the most important for any company if it wants to survive on the market. Reason number two is actually the reason senior developers don’t want to stay too long in company like that, as no one wants to be obsolete after spending so many years in learning stuff and becoming an awesome developer.

Actually I’m in a company like that at the moment, and I can already feel that I’m stagnating for the past 4-5 months, so I have to do something in order to proceed with my professional progress. That’s why I’m at the point where I ask myself “Should I stay in a company (not this one, but some other company), or should I get back to being a freelance developer?”.

Actually a friend of mine recommended me Toptal as he’s been using it for some time now and is more than happy with what it did for his professional growth, so my choice became quite obvious and very easy.

At first I was a bit sceptic about a community like this, because I already knew few “freelance websites” that were swamped with all kind of developers that were bidding for the jobs, making it almost impossible to do anything right, and on the other hand making it pretty hard for the client to find a good developer, but when he explained me how Toptal works, I realized that in order to pass the coding and phone interviews you actually need to know your job, which pretty much filters all the problems from other websites, and let’s the client choose from the fewer, but more reliable and actually pretty good developers.

At Toptal they claim that only 3% of their applicants go successfully through the full interviewing process, and I’m more than happy to try and be in that 3% because this surely seems like one great opportunity for any serious developer, as it leaves you with the chance to be what you like the most – a great developer, always in touch with new technologies and improving your skillset on daily basis.

Toptal also provides a great list of tips for those looking for an Android developer (but there are resources basically for any other technology so feel free to check it all), and since I was in a position to interview other Android developers if I had this list earlier my life would be much easier, so bravo Toptal, you’re actually doing great things with what you do and you’re really helping other people!

OK guys and gals, that’s it for this time, wish me luck with my interviews I hope I’ll pass them all, and that I’ll finally say goodbye to being a company’s employee and say hello to new “contractor” model!


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