I am a software engineer at a company which sells software to governments. I am a few years into my career and have been in my current role for 18 months. At the current time, I am happy with my job, but am always considering the future.

I was recently contacted by a recruiter and I always indulge them as you never know what you might find at the other end of the tunnel. I also find interviewing fun. One of her questions was what my primary accountabilities are and which projects I work on for my current company.

Because our software can easily generate citizen 200 complaints in an hour if something goes down and different governments have different requirements for features, a few people are considered "100% dedicated resources" for those projects. I have been told by my boss (and his boss) that my current project is THE priority and that they don't want me working on anything else. Other departments have been told that I am not a resource for them to tap into for internal support requests (my boss blew up on a guy who messaged me to fix a problem with another system, which was unnecessary).

There is no shortage of work to be done on my project and other developers are usually being added part time to my project so it is not like I am twiddling my thumbs. Plenty of challenging work is available within the project and I am usually the one adding other people to the project.

My concerns stem from a couple of things:

  1. I am the only permanent developer (out of 10 in my group) who is a "100% dedicated project resource". Everyone else is allowed to float between systems. I am trying to decide if this means I am the least trusted team member. The other dedicated resources are customer support staff and a member of contract management.

  2. I also wonder whether I am considered incapable of managing myself. This doesn't seem to fit with me being left alone to do work and getting resource requests rubber stamped, but it gnaws at me. I haven't had a performance review here (not sure what they do for them) beyond getting my 1 year probationary contract turned to permanent in 3 months.

  3. I am now scared to tell recruiters that I only had one responsibility, i.e. deliver the management system, build priority features rapidly, and keep it all running. It seems like a cop out to be able to say that I am allowed to prioritize this one thing over everything else.

Is this job going to be problematic for my career?

EDIT: I haven't replied to the recruiter yet, so advice on what to say there would be useful.

  • 1
    It seems you have two problems - 1. How to stay in your current job but get more lee way to "float between systems" and 2. How to get a new job but effectively advertise your "one responsibility" in a positive way to a recruiter or interviewer. It sounds like you are looking at choice 2.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 9:10
  • It sounds like you could use a heart-to-heart with your manager, maybe in the form of a performance review. A moment for you to ask whether you've been given this position out of trust, or because you are under-performing. Given that you've got some time until the end of your probationary contract, I'm quite sure your manager would appreciate you asking for feedback. I expect him to tell you that you're doing fine. He's trusting you with a lot of freedom, and you seem to handle it very well.
    – MvZ
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 12:51

3 Answers 3


Tell your recruiter

I am the go-to technical expert on my company's mission-critical app, responsible to our government customers and their citizens.

When asked why you want to change jobs, say that you're always learning new things and the new job offers you a great way to do that.

Ypu could say the same sort of thing to your current manager, and respectfully ask for more variety in your work. You might offer to help train someone else to help do the same mission-critical work you do now.

You are very unlikely to offend by asking for more, or broader, responsibility. Companies love people who offer to take responsibility.


I would say it depends on what exactly you are doing. Aspects that are likely to hurt your carreer in the context of working only on a single project

  • Single technology
  • This technology is exotic
  • Low responsibility
  • Project is bound to a single use case at a single customer

The first two are technically oriented. If you do only know one exotic language/framework your technical experience may be hard to transfer to the next job. Nontheless there is still skills that are independent of the technology used.

The latter two are more about the big picture. A code monkey will have it harder to find a job that is not exactly matching his technology portfolio. Someone who has only little knowledge about application domains (of your future job) will have a harder time as well as he cannot make the right assumptions when necessary or even cannot judge when not to make an assumption.

That said, being able to priorize features for your project does not sound like you are the least trusted person in this team. At a young stage of your carreer, I do not see many issues with being assigned to only one project but knowing this in depth with a more-than-usual responsibility. Breadth of experience requires actual experience in the first place and experience can only come with time.

If you still have the feeling that your technical portfolio is bad, there is nothing like a little side project in your private time. Learn a language you have always wanted to learn, make some toy projects and place them on a code hosting site. This allows you to show future employers that you are not a one-trick-pony.

  • A bright side is that holding a responsible, complex position for a lengthy period, proves that you can handle responsibility and complexity. This is something employers are looking for, not just specific skills although thats important
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 11:05

On the contrary, you should be happy you are not forced to do support and your responsibility lies only in developing a new system. Probably they let you in there so you won't leave running for greener pastures, had they asked you to do support.

In any case, if you see that your skillset has stop expanding within your current role, maybe you should start considering changing your circumstances.

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