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tl;dr: I'm a dev, I work for a good company, but I want to grow in technology X and this company doesn't care about that technology nor does it have the opportunities I need. I believe I need to go to another company. How do I assess whether the new company will give me the opportunities I need?

I'm a software developer and I've been at my current company for about 6 months. The thing I'm having trouble with is advancing my career. Recently, out of my own initiative, I've designed a very rough career plan for myself and discussed it with my manager, but while he seemed very receptive, the opportunities just don't seem to be there.

When I joined I was an expert in technology X, and I really want to continue down that path. I wasn't hired because of that particular technology, nor was I ever explicitly promised I would work with it (I should have asked more questions about this before joining), but I was under the assumption that I would get some decent experience, since it's a technology that's used in many software applications and I'm by far the most knowledgeable person in the company on that technology.

I would really like to keep growing in that technology, but this company doesn't seem to care at all about this technology, which I deduce from the facts that since I joined I haven't touched that technology at all (they heavily favor one of the competitors, something they didn't tell me before I joined), they have never provided any training support on that technology, nor any support for a conference on that technology that I attended recently (not even giving me the day off, I had to use my PTO).

I am convinced that my priorities and my company's are different and I need to find a new company (though I accept frame challenges on that). What I want to ask is how to better approach this in the interviews, how to better assess the role that I will have on a company and whether it will help me grow in the direction in which I want to grow (which is slightly more complicated than just using technology X). Can I present a career path on an interview? Who do I speak about this, how do I speak about it, and how do I gauge their answers?

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    I'm going to offer an alternative viewpoint to some of the answers posted. Do you really want to stake your entire career on a specific technology? Technologies change over time and you may find yourself on the outside looking in if you are not careful. In my experience the most valuable developers are those who know how to learn new technologies quickly. Most often that's due to strong knowledge of fundamentals and broad experience. Perhaps you might consider this an opportunity to learn about the tech used at your present employer and make yourself more valuable.
    – jwh20
    Oct 15 at 17:29
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    Your title asks about how to ask about career growth, but the body of the question is all about what to do when the company doesn't use the technology you like. Which are you asking about? Oct 15 at 18:42
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If you want to work with and progress with Technology X, I'd say the best way to go about that is to look for and accept a position that specifically works with that technology. The second best option is to try and latch on to a company that is heavily and strategically invested in that technology as part of what they do, even through a different position, and let them know that you have an interest in eventually moving your focus, within their company.

To go in and work in a completely different area and then be surprised or disappointed that your employer does not expect or seem to want to you develop your skills in a technology completely unrelated to the position you applied for and that they hired you for is problematic, on your part. I wouldn't mention it because it would reflect rather poorly on you, both in terms of judgment and candor, that you'd accept a position at a company where you basically already know you have no desire to stick with the position or the employer.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to stay sharp in your preferred area of technical focus and to progress in your career in that area. There's also nothing wrong with getting a foothold with a company that will have opportunities in that area by working in a different one. But that's not what happened with your current position. Chalk it up to a lesson learned, and don't repeat it.

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I should have asked more questions about this before joining

That appears to be the obvious answer to your question. You need to ask in the interview about things that are important to you. Something like

  1. How many of your products and projects are using X ?
  2. What tool chain do you use for X?
  3. What technology stacks are you using and what's the outlook for X
  4. What do you like and don't like about X and how does it stack up to your needs as compared to Y and Z

You also have to set realistic expectations. I, as a hiring manager, would not commit to "Yes you'll work only on X". This may be the immediate need and a good fit for now, but projects, strategies, technology stacks and business needs change all the time. I don't want to promise something I might not be able to keep and I prefer people with some amount flexibility. I will go out of my way to accommodate people's preferences as much as possible (since it's a win-win) but I can't commit to it.

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I would really like to keep growing in that technology, but this company doesn't seem to care at all about this technology, which I deduce from the facts that since I joined I haven't touched that technology at all (they heavily favor one of the competitors, something they didn't tell me before I joined), they have never provided any training support on that technology, nor any support for a conference on that technology that I attended recently (not even giving me the day off, I had to use my PTO). I am convinced that my priorities and my company's are different and I need to find a new company (though I accept frame challenges on that).

I'm going to give an answer that I've given to previous questions on this subject. I fully expect downvotes, but this is a straight forward, honest, frank answer for people who ask this type of question and find themselves in a similar situation.

YOUR EMPLOYER IS NOT YOUR CAREER COACH. IT IS NOT THEIR RESPONIBILITY NOR THEIR MISSION TO PROVIDE YOU WITH TRAINING, EDUCATION, OR CAREER ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITIES. IT IS NOT THEIR PURPOSE NOR THEIR OBLIGATION TO INVEST TIME AND ENERGY INTO TECHNOLOGIES SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THEM. THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED IN AND DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR PRIORITIES. THEIR SOLE MISSION IS TO BE PROFITABLE.

If your career trajectory at your current employer isn't on the path you desire, and if you see no opportunity for your desired career path there, and if your boss seems uninterested, then MOVE ON.

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    -1 for all the bold caps.
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 15 at 20:22
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    While I agree with many parts of this answer, companies should be training their staff, because there's no reason for anyone else to do it. Employees will learn whatever they want to in their free time, which may have nothing to do with what the employer needs.
    – Simon B
    Oct 16 at 17:32

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