Techies: Don't Get Pigeonholed!

Technologists have to be careful not to become pigeonholed. What do I mean by that? Well, after 10 years of Java development, you're going to have a very hard time convincing anyone that you can do anything else. This is not good for your career.

This problem is particularly worrisome for technical folks because the non-technical types can't understand that being a good developer doesn't just mean you know Java. A good developer can pick up a new language, can do system architecture, design databases, engage in requirements gathering, and manage other developers. Sadly, all hiring managers are going to see is the 10 years of Java development experience you have and try to shove you in to another Java job regardless of what you actually want to do.

So how do you avoid being pigeonholed? There are two tactics. If you have time, look for other opportunities with your current employer to expand your skillset. It's important to do things that are visible to your manager because you may need someone to verify what you put on your resume.

If, on the other hand, you don't have time i.e. you're currently looking for work, simply downplay the skills you don't want to stand out and emphasize those skills you do want to be noticed. You would do this on your resume and during discussions with recruiters.

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