Regarding transition from Sr. Sotware engineer to Tech lead

By pankaj_jha18 pankaj_jha18 Points: 110 | Level: Starter | Status: [Member]
Posted on: 4/4/2011 6:22:43 AM | Views: 4926 | Points: 30
Dear Sir,

I have around 7 years of experience in java/j2ee technologies.

My core competencies are in to core java/jsp/servlet/spring/hibernate/design patterns.

Currently I am working as Sr. software engineer and played role of module lead for few modules of my project there by handling team of 4-5 developers.
I was also instrumental in designing and architecting the application in concern.
I am looking for Tech lead designation but as per my current organization I have to wait for at least 1 more year.

When I look out for change , the other organizations are expecting to be have experience of more than 1 year as full fledged tech lead.

Also, as being in service based company and in that too with Japanese client,it really makes time crunch situation to execute the project as per standard process.

So to be honest I have been working in kind of adhoc environment since last 2 years.So when I talk about Task assignment/tracking,code review,estimation ,build delivery etc. I failed to convince the Interview panel about execution of all these in some standard way of doing it.

Though I learned few techniques/methodologies such as FPA,Scrum from online resources but practical exposure is something can't be substituted.

In short ,The transition from Sr. Software developer to Tech lead not happening for me.

Please suggest how I should go about it?

How I should prepare my self ?

What are the different areas/methodologies/skills/techniques I should prepare on and how I can be benefited from dotnetfunda in that regard.

It would be great if you can suggest me about how I should go about representing myself to the interview panel ,in order to convincing for Tech lead position?

Thanks & Regards
Pankaj Kumar Jha

Sainath's Advice on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 :
Hi Pankaj,

Firstly, let us try to clearly understand the basic roles and responsibilities of a Tech Lead

  • Overseeing the work of a small group of software engineers
  • Ensuring that the defined architecture for the project is being followed - participating in the design and architecture
  • Code review
  • Mentoring other developers
  • Estimation
  • Being directly involved in the development of key modules
  • Primarily a technical responsibility - but since the tech lead is also an interface between the Project Manager and the team he also needs to have some degree of process understanding to ensure that project controls are being maintained. This is possible only if project controls have been designed and implemented effectively by the Project Manager which in turn is also dependent upon the organizational focus and client belief in project controls.

From what you have stated you are effectively fulfilling most of the responsibilities - the last one is a bit tricky. The panel is trying to judge the degree of controls in the projects you have worked in. This can be effectively cleared only if you have quality experience of the same. Given the type of project you are in, obsessive quality focus and crunched time lines will always be the norm. Standard processes may not be followed as you have already stated.

How do you ensure that interview panels are convinced about your skills in a particular area?

  • Have strong knowledge in the area
  • Apply the knowledge in a real project - build skills
  • Be convinced about the concepts yourself first
  • This conviction should transfer to the panel and they will be confident that you are fit for the job

If any of the above components are missing then you will not be very convinced and the same feeling will get transferred to the panel.

What strategies can be applied to help you achieve the goal of becoming a Tech Lead ?

1. Continue in the current organization for 1 year. But please make sure you ask for this change and how you can qualify for it with your reporting manager

2. Shift to a different project in the current organization wherein project controls / processes are stronger. This is easier said than done - firstly, based on what you have stated you may not be released from the current project. The second problem is to get a placement in a good project - the unfortunate thing is that within the same organization different accounts operate like islands with not many lessons, best approaches / practices being shared across and these do not usually become part of organizational best practice.

3. Focus on your strengths - please remember, no interview panel is looking to recruit the perfect person. It is usually a case of "the person is already strong in one area and has convinced the panel that he/she has the ability to scale up in other areas." How do you do that? While structured way of handling things may be your weak area you still need to know these at a conceptual level - visit enough blogs where people are sharing their experience and get a grip on things.
    Secondly, identify all the technical skill areas where there is high demand and in which the demand will still continue in a year's time. This is too important for you and simply cannot be ignored if you are serious about your goals. This is the back-up strategy should option 1 fail for whatever reason at the end of 1 year. You see, if you become the kind of person people are looking to hire in a year's time by "maximizing" yourself in this area, you are bound to succeed (with the inherent weaknesses in your profile) as the right kind of people can spot quality quickly. Then it just becomes a question of time wherein the right opportunity is bound to present itself.

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins. Not through strength, but through persistence."

4. Please make sure that you have a plan in place and you check your progress at the end of every week. Be accountable and keep checking - "What progress did I make this week?". If you are not checking your progress periodically and honestly (brutally) you are not going to get very far.

"I measured my preparation and it was important for me to be on target."
    - Lance Armstrong, stage 4 cancer survivor and 7 time Tour De France winner in his book "It's not about the bike: My journey back to life."

5. Use your downtime effectively - evening time, Saturdays and Sundays.

For most working professionals, come Friday evening and they "crash". If you wish to succeed, Friday evening should be "take-off" so that you do not waste even a single hour available till Sunday evening.

"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."
    - Muhammad Ali
, world heavy weight boxing champion

I hope I have provided enough food for thought. Please check out the available resources on dotnetfunda and itfunda,

This is not a promotion but it might be helpful to you.

Sainath Sherigar,

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