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The #1 Book to Grow Your Programming Career in 2020

Learning more technical skills is an obvious 2020 resolution for a software engineer. There are plenty of resources on technical topics (which I cover for front-end developers in my article, The Definitive Guide to Front-end Development in 2020), but what if learning more technical skills is frankly not motivating?

What if there are other more pressing problems: you are stuck at your pay bracket with seemingly nowhere to grow, or you want to transition programming jobs, or you are simply stuck professionally, confused about the next career move?

There is a book for that, and it is specifically for programmers, hallelujah! Published in 2017, this programming career book is still relevant and unrivaled.

If you like the content in this article, you can also find my other content at my blog, Books on Code.


The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide by John Sonmez is exactly as the title describes, with no understatement. This guide is truly “complete”: it is 798 pages and it seems to have every programming career topic under the sun. The book is written to capture a broad audience, encouraging readers to skip chapters and read what is most relevant in the phase of their career.

Here is just a handful of topics this guide covers:

  • The technical skills you need to have to get started as a programmer

  • The various ways you can pursue a programming education

  • Types of programmers you can choose to become

  • How to write a resume, interview, get an internship, and get a job

  • How to switch to programming mid-career

  • Soft skills you need to work well with others as a developer

  • How to advance your programming career by networking and growing a reputation

The book is available on Amazon and free for Kindle Unlimited users. This was a deterrent for me since I use neither Audible nor Kindle as my main ebook retailer (speaking to all fellow Kobo readers), but this isn’t a problem for many readers.

In this review, I am going to cover three main takeaways after reading this book cover-to-cover (more about reading cover-to-cover in Takeaway #3).

Then, stay to the end for the Review Snapshot, which includes important key information — like whether this book was actually fun to read. Fun matters, even in careers books about programming.

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