DEV Community


Posted on

It's ok not to know everything

When I became a "professional" software developer around six years ago, I thought quite a lot about my job title.

I wanted to be "Fullstack" and, at some point, I wanted that "Senior" prefix.

Since then, I've had lots of job titles including Senior Fullstack Software Engineer.

If you're reading this and you're not applying for the job you really want because you don't think you're ready - it's ok to not know everything.

I consider myself a backend engineer that can do frontend when needed, and I've been employed several times as a "Fullstack" engineer. If you asked me to make a simple CSS animation or a responsive HTML webpage - I'd be going straight to Google, because I simply don't know how to do frontend from memory.

But, do you know why these companies employed me anyway? Because they don't care if I can write a website, from scratch, from memory, or if I do it by searching the web - because it's ok not to know everything.

I learn quickly and I can pick things up, that I've never done before, with minimal assistance. I wasn't given the job because I can retain loads of information, truth be told my memory is shit, but because they can give me a job and trust that I'll do it.

I'll say it one more time:

It's ok not to know everything

If you're competent enough to get through a task using Google, you're ready to start applying.

Top comments (14)

connarcode profile image

A problem exacerbated by the awful job posts that are usually written by someone not even from the company that's hiring. Usually a job's "requirements" are a list of quickly googled buzz words around the main job role.

lawrencejohnson profile image

I've been in charge of hiring as either a lead developer, tech director, or company owner for about 15 years. The value of a developer is in their ability to learn and figure out new technology, not what they already know. When applying for jobs, if you can demonstrate your ability to learn and show your confidence in it, you will have a competing chance for the position. So, when asked to discuss projects you've done in the past, try to highlight ones where you were presented with new technology and how you overcame the challenge of learning it. We listen for things like how resourceful you were on your own versus whether or not you needed someone to teach you.

lawrencejohnson profile image

Be warned though, do not confuse resourcefulness with stubbornly ignoring advice or guidelines of seniors. No one wants a rogue developer who doesn't leverage their team for technologies that are already learned or in use within the company.

szhabolcs profile image
Nagy Szabolcs

Great article! It gave me a bit of self confidence. ๐Ÿ˜„

It also made me think about something, that I've learned while getting into web development.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but instead, use it.

I remember wanting to do, responsive designs all by myself, and then realizing how much more I can do with frameworks.

devdrake0 profile image
Si • Edited

Just remember, CSS frameworks are great but it's also beneficial to have the general CSS knowledge of how they work, or at least be able to Google and find the answer ๐Ÿ˜Š

mburszley profile image
Maximilian Burszley

A good reminder that can stave off imposter syndrome. With the expectations put on us as developers, it's not surprising it's as pervasive as it is.

saurabhdaware profile image
Saurabh Daware ๐ŸŒป

Thanks for sharing this ๐ŸŒป I remember I applied for a nodejs internship having no idea about node (but I wanted to learn) and they took me in seeing my older php projects and when I started working I actually figured out a lot of stuff and loved node.

gmslzr profile image
Guillermo Salazar

But I feel like an ignorant, talent-less, scammer because I can't seem to remember the search algorithms and which one is O(n). Where's the line between "it's OK to Google" and "I have to look for a career change"?

  • umm.. asking for a friend.
mbrzechwa profile image
Marek Brzechwa-White

I'm a senior developer, in the biz for 20 years (started professionally while still in high school) I use Google everyday. Not for most things mind you, but there is always something either I haven't personally done, or I can't remember exactly how to do. There's a LOT of information to remember. Heck plenty of times even Google doesn't have a full answer for me because Tech is always evolving and changing and pushing the envelope.

safinghoghabori profile image
Safin Ghoghabori's amazing and informative. I like it.

johnadan profile image
John McLem Adan

Hi Si! Thanks for sharing this. It encouraged me as I'm a junior backend developer just starting out. :)

nombrekeff profile image

It's really good to remind young and not that young developers about this. I suffered quite a bit with this in my early days as well!

hazarikaameer profile image
Ameer Hazarika

More people need to start thinking like you. Amazing advice.

jorgevels profile image
Jorge Velasquez