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I am in the technical field (front-end software development specifically). My question is, considering the fast moving nature of our field (new technologies/frameworks constantly coming up), how can I manage to keep up with that? Practically speaking, it is not possible to master everything that comes in the market.

Just to add, my software experience is around 14 years and I am specifically referring to the fact that companies having expectation of full-stack development (front-end + back-end) which I think can be a lot to learn. I would consider myself good at front-end, but just a beginner at back-end which has never been my core area of work.

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Brain surgeons don't know the specifics of heart surgery. Cardiac surgeons don't know the specifics of brain surgery.

You shouldn't expect yourself to know every technology stack that comes down the pipe or to be proficient in every programming language that exists.

  1. Study the technology that's relevant to your job.

  2. Study one or two things that are valuable in the market.

  3. Study one or two things that interest you.

  • While it makes absolute sense the points mentioned by you, the reason I asked the questions was off-late, I have seen companies having lots of expectations (which I often feel is unreal)..So, if you would have heard of full-stack developer (not just doing front-end, but even back-end work) However, one thing I should have also mentioned is my overall experience of around 14 years..They think at that level of exp, one should know an entire range of technologies (to a certain degree, that might be right considering that they'll be paying higher)..But practically, how much is possible to learn.. – testndtv Jan 3 at 5:53
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    Not being a naysayer, but the problem here is, brain surgeons doesn't need to switch to perform heart surgery as often as the programmers with technology. – Sourav Ghosh Jan 3 at 5:53
  • Human hearts and heart surgery expectations (beyond incremental improvements) generally haven’t changed in the past 5 years. 5 years ago, people used raw JavaScript and mostly HTML for the frontend. Now, entirely JS is used. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 3 at 5:59
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Practically speaking, it is not possible to master everything that comes in the market. Any suggestions here would really help.

TL;DR - You don't need to know every technology, you need to be capable of finding a solution to a problem. Simply "knowing" the technologies won't help, if that cannot be applied to find out a solution.

It is practically impossible to master every technology that emerges. What we need to do is:

  1. Choose a career path, and focus on the relevant technologies that are currently associated with the domain.
  2. Master couple of them with / using which you're already working. This way, you'll be able to asses pros and cons of the other options around.
  3. Instead of trying to adopt the latest technology that comes out every month or quarter, you can compare it against the existing technologies / stack and work on enhancing the existing code.

The most important part is : understanding how the new technology will help. What is the problem that it can solve which cannot be achieved using the existing / already implemented ones.

Lastly, as for the job searching purpose, you don't need to know every language / framework / technology for every job post - you can surely filter the job postings which are relevant to your knowledge and expertise. Rather than trying something radically new, if you keep your focus on incremental changes, it'll actually be helpful. You'll have a solid base and you can build with something new on top of that.

  • "you need to be capable of finding a solution to a problem". My experience is such that interviewers are not looking for somebody who is "able to find solutions" (some do, but not all). I feel like they want "somebody who already knows the answer". Sort of like, you need a job to have experience but companies say "no, you don't need a job, you need experience". – wha7ever Jan 3 at 21:21
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Generally you don't "keep up". You learn the tech stack your company uses and that's all you ever need. Until you change jobs.

All you need to do is be aware of the technologies, frameworks, what they do and when to use them. You don't waste time trying to learn them all because you probably wont get to use them, or by the time you do something else will have replaced it. You only need to learn a new tech/framework when a project would benefit from it.

If you just want to keep your own skills up to date, then you could dedicate a couple of weekends a year to studying a new technology you haven't used before. - That's what I do.

  • Thanks a lot for your comments....Your suggestions seem to be quite practical and seems the right way...as what I have observed that whenever I start learning multiple technologies (even within the front-end domain and not when moving to back-end stuff), I tend to get a bit messed up and often seems a bit overwhelming...So probably, I'll have to learn to accept my limitations and try and give my best within it...However, just as a side note, I also hope that companies start having a bit realistic approach (or may be I should not think about that) – testndtv Jan 4 at 11:56
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    I wouldn't say it's a limitation, rather you have an area that you specialise in which is a good thing. I think you are overthinking a bit. A lot of job descriptions are very misleading and written by recruiters or marketing specialists rather than the employer or technical person. Non technical recruiters and marketeers just list every buzzword they can think of. They basically write job adverts with artistic license, not job descriptions. – flexi Jan 4 at 15:18
  • Totally agree. I have a very specific follow-up question (not sure if you could help)...So like I said, I am primarily into front-end tech with the same project for around 4 years now..Off late, the project has matured. Also, I am quite familiar with my role (front-end)...However, more work is coming on back-end side of things (i.e. not in my core area)..Going ahead, there might be some work coming in front-end as well, but I do not have clarity on that..which is why I decided to learn and contribute to backend, but finding challenges there..So, feeling a bit confused now.. – testndtv Jan 4 at 17:43
  • The options I have include - 1. Try to learn backend tech and contribute whatever is possible (finding this a bit challenging) 2. Wait for some challenging work in my core area in the same project (front-end) and until then, try and see whatever I can contribute to backend 3. Start looking at options either within the firm OR switch to other firm (My experience level of approx 14 years makes this a bit hard) Feel free to let me know your opinion or any other suggestions which you might have... – testndtv Jan 4 at 17:47
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There will be jobs where you are a perfect fit, and jobs where you are not. I know an awful lot about some subjects, and a little bit (enough to muddle my way through) about others, and nothing about some. I go for jobs where the awful lot about some subjects counts. "Fullstack developers" are expected to know enough to be useful in several subjects, they will never be as good as you would be in one of these subjects. If someone wants to hire a fullstack developer, that job is not for you.

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I think it's worth considering the fact that most job postings aren't going to be 100% accurate about what the job entails, and they probably are being written by someone who doesn't know the field terribly well.

It's also worth considering that some ads are only out there because the people involved have to post them. If you want, for instance, to hire an H1B visa worker, you have to prove that you offered the job to Americans and couldn't find any takers. So if I need a software dev, and I have a specific guy from overseas that I want to hire, I might put out a job ad that calls for exactly that guy's resume. When nobody can meet it except for the guy I hand-picked, I can get my H1B visa worker approved. (If you're not in America, I'm sure other countries have similar reasons to post unrealistic job ads)

All you can really do is keep up to date with the tech that your company is using. If you have the free time and desire to learn new tech, do it through a new project. If all goes well, that new project could be an excellent item to toss in your portfolio to showcase your skills to a new company if and when you seek to move jobs.

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I don't know specifically what industry you're in, but as an example I'm a PHP and make websites. I found the easiest way to find out the "happening now" is to simply look at conference schedules around the webs. The main php website has a link to conferences and you can view their schedule. You can also go to one of these conferences if your company allows. You can figure out just by reading the schedule what's the current trend is.

Also, I subscribe to the php arch magazine which is a digital subscription. It's usually loaded with best practice for the time being.

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