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How to find fulfilment as a software engineer

In the wake of the pandemic, most people realise they want more than a pay packet out of their job, and one of the main things they are looking for is a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Job satisfaction has never been more important, especially with the ongoing shortage of skills in the high-tech arena, such as software engineers, software developers, and DevOps professionals. But to managers and their teams, happiness and fulfilment can be elusive, hard to measure, and difficult to achieve.

A recent survey by Haystack found that 83 per cent of software engineers suffered from burnout during the pandemic. Other research found unhappy developers were less productive, suffered from “broken flow,” had less motivation, and produced low-quality code.

A survey in the U.S. by TalentLMS and Workable showed that 72 per cent of employees working in tech/I.T. roles were thinking of quitting their job in the next 12 months. This is significantly higher than 55 per cent of the overall U.S. workforce.

Software engineering is one of those rare jobs where your work can affect millions. But it is easy to forget that when you are struggling with burnout, fatigue or just frustrated with trying to fix horrible legacy code or work through disorganised processes, this can significantly impact an individual’s sense of purpose and wellbeing. Enclosed are some suggestions which can improve fulfilment for developers.

1. Get close to end users

Working more closely with end users can be more fulfilling. If there are greater communication layers between you and the client, this may avoid negative feedback – if all you hear are complaints and bug reports, you may feel as if none of the users appreciate your work. Understanding the business requirements and the products as a customer can enhance the technology roadmap allowing the engineer the opportunity to gain experience and important lessons and even onboard new skills.

Finding a role that puts you close enough to end users so you can hear customer comments can be beneficial by increasing a sense of purpose. Thinking about what the customer really wants can dissuade developers from ‘overengineering’ and help a career.

2. Work out what kind of software engineer you are

Are you a “Growth Accelerator”, a “Difference Maker”, or an “Innovator”? The answer will determine the kind of role and industry you will be happiest in.

Growth Accelerators are often money-motivated and thrive on helping start-ups and scale-ups grow. If that is you, look for small but ambitious companies that want to grow fast. You will find plenty of opportunities to drive growth and reap the rewards in the current market.

Difference Makers, on the other hand, would be miserable in an organisation whose primary goal is making money. The tech-for-good market is booming, with new start-ups emerging all over Europe. They find their purpose by making a positive difference, so look for companies that use software for the good of people, animals, or the planet. That might be working for a start-up bringing IoT to farmers in Kenya or for a medical organisation helping to transform vaccine rollout.

Innovators are analytical people and will be most fulfilled in a role that lets them break new ground. The accelerating pace of innovation has led to a gap between invention and interest; Innovators find their purpose in closing that gap.

3. Choose a positive environment

When we say positive, we do not necessarily mean rainbows and unicorns. An environment where people smilingly gloss over problems is not a positive one. Look for a workplace where people are upbeat and celebrate what works well but are willing to have tough conversations about what is not. While praise feels good, you will be more fulfilled when you are being challenged and encouraged to make real improvements and become better at your job every day.

4. Work in a streamlined DevOps environment

With many DevOps professionals highlighting the use of numerous toolchains, which means development teams could be dealing with 20+ tools – it often builds a case for information overload and unhappy developers.

So, if possible, help streamline DevOps or work in a business with a streamlined environment, as this is often the key to software developer job satisfaction. Adopting a DevOps platform that combines tools in a single application for collaboration, visibility, and development velocity make for happier engineers. So, if streamlined DevOps is the key to software developer job satisfaction, the answer is obvious. Better DevOps also means improved collaboration, easier automation, and visibility/traceability.

5. Expand your knowledge

For almost two out of three employees, it is more learning and training that motivates high-tech employees — combined with Learning & Development opportunities being one of the top criteria for selecting a job. The message is clear: training can help slow down the wave of resignations or can improve a developer’s morale and wellbeing.

If your employer is not big on training or if you have become accustomed to coding in specific languages for your role, it might be time to expand your coding repertoire by brushing up on coding languages you have not used in a while or learn new ones. With more companies requiring talented, multi-skilled software engineers for complex projects, learning a new software language will challenge you and make you more valuable to your current employer and desirable to others.

Learning a new language takes time, dedication, and patience, and programming languages are no different.

Below are some of the popular programming languages to learn as a software engineer or developer:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. Python
  5. JavaScript
  6. C#
  7. PHP
  8. SQL

Life is too short to stay in a job that does not fulfil you – and with so many different opportunities for software engineers and software developers, you do not have to. We collaborate with companies hiring Growth Accelerators, Difference Makers, Innovators, and more. If you would like to find a new sense of purpose, get in touch today and tell us what is important to you, and we will collaborate with you to find you a truly fulfilling job.

Redline Group - the UK’s most trusted Engineering, Electronics and High Technology recruitment specialist for professional ContractPermanent and Executive positions.

For more information from a trusted partner with four decades of experience in knowledge-led recruitment, please contact us on 01582 450054 or email


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