All flows, nothing stays

How to stay on top of the always-evolving tech landscape

Luke Tillman
how to stay relevent
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The only constant in this world is change. In this article, Luke Tillman shares some advice on how to stay on top of the always-evolving tech landscape.

When I first embarked on a career in technology almost 20 years ago, one thing became clear very quickly: this sector changes both constantly and rapidly. As my career has progressed, it seems like the pace of change has increased, too. From the explosion of the new database options on offer to power the back-end of our applications to the seemingly endless parade of new JavaScript frameworks to run our front-ends, at times it can be difficult to keep up.

In the job market, developers that possess relevant skills and experience for these new technologies are usually in high demand. According to the 2017 Harvey Nash Tech Survey, software engineers and developers were the most headhunted professionals in technology last year.

As developers, we have to ask ourselves how do we best keep up with all this constant change and remain relevant. With this in mind, here are six tips I’ve used throughout my career:

Always be learning

There are always new languages and skills to learn and techniques to adopt. Whether it’s an online class or an in-person training session, your education should never stop. Any opportunities to learn these new languages or try out new development approaches should be grasped with both hands.

Peer engagement works

Alongside formal training, there are so many websites, blogs, and social media accounts that share information to learn from. I recommend reading blogs that interest you, find online personalities to follow on Twitter, or subscribe to podcasts on relevant topics.

Each of these different ways of accessing information can fit in with your lifestyle; over time, you will gravitate towards those that are the best fit from both a content and a personality perspective. Similarly, you’ll be able to share your own experience via those channels as well.

Certification counts

While you may have the skills to do the job, certification can show both employers and customers that you’re experienced. A certification demonstrates that you’re a valuable member of the team and that you’re always willing to learn new things, whether these are paid for by your employer or out of your own pocket.

SEE MORE: Skill sets that help you cope with automation takeover

Attending events builds character

While online communities can be really valuable, in-person Meetups and Conferences can be equally valuable to attend. Some are even free! This will give you the opportunity to discover new technologies, interests and goals that you had not previously considered.

If you go to the right events, you’ll find people that you can work with or learn from in some way. You’ll get ideas, inspiration and tips from not only the speakers but other attendees too. This informal networking can be just as valuable as the formal education tracks.

Community contributions count both ways

Couple the explosion of great open source projects with the high demand for skills in those projects, and sometimes the best way to learn is by contributing directly. Whether it’s directly contributing through writing code and updating documentation, or indirectly through asking and answering questions on a mailing list, it’s easier than ever to learn valuable skills around open source projects. More importantly, this can encourage more people to get involved and give back to your fellow developers.

It’s not personal

While a lot of these tips are things you can do for yourself, encouragement always helps. Working for a company that values continued learning acts like a multiplier on the effort that you put in. Considering whether a potential employer has a dedicated training budget, is willing to send you to conference and allows you time to experiment with new and different technologies can be important factors in your next job search. Similarly, these elements can be just as important as providing competitive salaries if you have to hire other developers too.


Staying relevant is a big challenge we face as developers but it can be immensely rewarding when we make the effort to do it. Interesting new projects, better pay, and more job opportunities are just some of the benefits we can look forward to. The power is in your hands to make sure your career is a long and successful one.


Luke Tillman

Luke Tillman is a Technical Evangelist for Apache Cassandra at DataStax where he frequently works with Cassandra, .NET, and Node.js. Prior to joining DataStax, he spent most of the last fifteen years as a software engineer, writing code for web applications both large and small.


You can find him on Twitter @LukeTillman.

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