Increasing Your Chances for a Promotion as a Software Developer

You’re probably in great demand and have a high degree of job security if you’re a competent software developer. However, you may find it difficult to advance if you’re in a junior position, even if you work in a large company with multiple promotion tracks. Some of the following tips for increasing your chances of promotion generally apply to most careers, while others are specific to software developers.


The problem with advancing as a software developer often lies with soft skills like communication rather than technical skills. Communication is typically the most important factor in distinguishing software developers who are promoted to a top position within five years from those who rarely receive a meaningful promotion. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest areas to improve. Many of these tips may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised with what they help you achieve if you follow them carefully.


You may not think of yourself as an ambassador for your company, but this is an important mindset to cultivate if you’re seeking a promotion. This tactic requires you to explain your job in a way that a non-technical person can understand, which can require practice if you’re not used to it.

Asking questions is the best way to understand what someone is thinking, according to Live Bold and Bloom. Open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” are most helpful for learning something new. They take longer to answer, but can provide you with detailed information about a technical issue. Closed-end questions can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, such as “Isn’t it true that…” Use closed-end question to confirm or clarify your current understanding of a problem.

Feedback is also essential in communication, since it shows the other person that you’re listening to them. It can be as simple as saying, “I see what you’re saying,” which indicates that you’re listening and consider the other person’s words worthy even if you don’t agree with them. On the other side of that, it’s also important to listen to someone’s feedback and ask questions to ensure you understand the other speaker’s position. Strive not to take the response personally, as that can cause you to stop listening.

Profanity is a communication issue that can hurt your chances of promotion. Some smaller businesses may tolerate it, but they will usually move towards a profanity-free culture as they mature. Even if software developers in your current position are allowed to swear, it’s not normally the most effective way of getting promoted. Your best bet is to not do it at all, especially when you’re with a client. That way, you don’t have to continually censor yourself based on who is in the room.


A good reputation among managers is often a vital component for promotion, which means keeping yourself visible to them. Ensure that your managers and other team members always know what you’re working on and what you’ve achieved. This strategy helps your manager make a fair decision when you ask for a raise or promotion.

Small companies present a unique opportunity to improve your reputation, especially start-ups. These companies always need work, which you can do to show that you’re ready for more responsibility. This proactive approach keeps you visible to managers, who always appreciate a team member who takes on more duties without being asked to do so.


Building internal relationships by networking with your colleagues can be a great way to advance your career. These relationships give you insight into what your colleagues are thinking when they aren’t working on their daily tasks. Networking can thus help you find out about advancement opportunities you might otherwise have been unaware of. It also allows you to express your point of view more readily and stay top-of-mind for future opportunities. Check out our blog “Tips for Advancing Your Software Development Career” for more on relationships and emotional intelligence.


Some software development companies may not care when you come to work, but most businesses expect you to arrive at work by a certain time. Even if this isn’t the case, punctuality for meetings is generally important for career advancement. Tardiness tends to annoy managers, and it also sends a strong signal that you’re not committed or engaged in your work.


Software development companies tend to have a reputation for more casual dress codes than other business. This reputation is well-deserved for some firms that truly have no dress codes, where completely casual dress is acceptable. However, many other companies still expect their software developers to wear at least business casual attire.

The best rule of thumb is to wear the same type of clothing as the people who are already in the position you’re seeking. For example, if the managers above you wear business casual slacks, you should as well. Be sure to take note of their shoes as well.


Maximizing your chances of promotion as a software developer requires you to pay attention to a number of other details in addition to your technical skills. Some of these practices may not be important in your current position, but they could be crucial for reaching the next step in your career. Managers are more likely to consider you for advancement if you act like you’ve already been promoted.