By Shravan Goli
In a dynamic, fast-changing environment like technology, a successful career requires proactive thinking, steady networking and skills development. The key to working on bigger, better projects—and growing your paycheck and enhancing your career prospects—is either to expand your range of experience or find a company that badly needs the talents you have to offer.
In either scenario, an organization’s product road map can serve as a valuable resource to guide your career development and your long-term career decisions. This forward-looking guide to product life cycles, new markets and opportunities can serve as a useful prism through which to measure your fit.
For tech professionals who are eager to advance up the company food chain, the depth and breadth of what’s in store for their employer’s key products can dictate what’s next in terms of career advancement potential. A predictable, narrow road map can serve as an early warning sign that future possibilities could be limited. By the same token, a dynamic product road map that includes new frontiers and new product applications could represent a tremendous upside when it comes to career growth.
If you’re a tech professional currently in the market for your next position, a chance to view a prospective employer’s product road map can be invaluable—thought admittedly hard to come by. Road maps are often viewed as proprietary information, and eyeballing or even discussing these sensitive documents may require signing a nondisclosure agreement.
The positive side? Your interest in a potential employer’s road map demonstrates your capacity to think forward and represents a chance for you to assess how well you’ll fit into a company’s technical future.
A product road map that’s goal-oriented, nimble and innovative indicates a culture that puts a premium on balancing creativity and strategy. One that reads like a treatise—all tactics and vanilla thinking—points to a corporate culture that could be stifling.
Product road maps exist to help companies drive toward tomorrow. But they can be equally useful when it comes to planning your career’s thousands of tomorrows.
Shravan Goli is the president of Dice, a respected career site that brings together in-demand technology professionals and tech-powered companies. An internet and media veteran, Goli is responsible for executing the growth strategy for Dice.com, ClearanceJobs and the Slashdot Media brands. Before joining Dice, he served as CEO of Dictionary.com and general manager of Yahoo! Video and as head of products for Yahoo! Finance.