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Book Review: John Sonmez -The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide

 ·  ☕ 4 min read  ·  ✍️ Iskander Samatov

book review



In this post I’m writing a short review of the book I read recently and found to be quite useful.

If you think books are outdated

In the technology world information becomes obsolete faster than in any other industry. That’s why a lot of techies prefer reading blogs and articles over books. Any technology book published today will likely become outdated tomorrow.

However, I’m an avid supporter of reading books to advance your career. And here are Mark Zuckerberg’s words to back me up:

Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today

Mark Zuckerberg

What is it about?

The book is a practical guide on how to successfully navigate and advance your software development career. The best parts of the book is about the soft skills necessary to advance your career. The book describes the importance of and how to learn things such as: playing better with your teammates, developing leadership skills, making yourself more noticeable in your company, and etc.

Comprehensive guide

There are a lot of golden nuggets of advice for software developers out there in the web. However, what John Sonmez did well is group that information in one comprehensive guide. You are likely to find useful information no matter which stage of your software development career you’re in.

Just like in many of the self-improvement books some of the advice is a common sense. Nevertheless, it’s important to be reminded about those things once in a while. John’s writing style is refreshing and reads more as if he’s just having a friendly conversation with you and telling you what worked for him.

Weak points

As much as I liked the book it does have some drawbacks. They are not major but I thought they are worth mentioning. If only to prove that I wasn’t paid to write this review .

Too much self-promotion

John is a marketer and it tells in the book. The book contains a lot of external links to his blog and his other material. It didn’t bother me too much while I reading the book on my kindle, but if you get triggered when people try to shove their content in your face that’s something to be aware of.

Lack of detail

While this book does cover pretty much every aspect of software development career, it doesn’t go in too much detail on each. And that’s fair since it would be close to impossible to do both well. Also, John does provide useful links to additional material for each chapter.

My top 5 takeaways from the book:

These takeaways are in random order and are not necessarily related to each other. These are just 5 pieces of advice I found to be the most useful for me:

  1. The worst thing you can do to protect your job security is hoard the knowledge and be reluctant to share it with your team. Don’t be that person, no one likes them. Ironically by keeping your team hostage you’re actually more likely to lose your job. Instead, try to constantly learn new things and share it with others.
  2. Always finish the side projects you start. Taking on a new personal project is always exciting, however after the first month (or week) the excitement starts to fade away. Suck it up and finish what you started. It’s much more appealing to have a portfolio of finished projects, plus you’ll get in a habit of finishing what you started.
  3. When starting a new business, don’t try to get it perfect and don’t worry too much about little details like logo and accounting records. Instead, focus on the things that will actually help your business grow. Try to get the least amount of work possible to get the business going.
  4. It’s up to you to improve your relationships with your boss, not the other way around. Sometimes software developers might have a sense of entitlement and not bother to communicate well with their superiors. Just remember that no one is irreplaceable.
  5. Blogging is the best thing a programmer can do for his career. Blogging might not be THE best thing for your career, but it’s probably at least top 3. Reading this book inspired me to actively start blogging.

Overall this book is a good and easy read. It’s baked with tips and advices that can definitely help you advance your software development career. But just reading a book is not enough. Just like any manual you have to practice what is preached in it. And it definitely wouldn’t hurt adding this book to your reread list.

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Iskander Samatov
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