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How to Sell Yourself as a Developer

Over the last week, I've been more and more pulled towards the idea of establishing myself full time as a freelance dev. I won't get bogged down in the reasons (freedom to explore your own niche, self-reliance, being your own boss, etc.), but one of the standout take aways from reading about different people's journey into the freelance was one thing. Value.

It's one of those mindless cliches by this point that part of the employment process is communicating your value. However to me and surely most other people as job seekers, this doesn't really hit home. It's unclear what value really means in the hiring process.

One of the unfortunate results of the job seekers journey is the trials and tribulations of being rejected, then taking it sort of personally. "What was I missing?" "Why didn't they want me?" "Was I not a fit culturally?" Surely these are sometimes good questions to ask yourself and these have crossed my mind in the last few months.

But it hit me plain in the face when doing more reading about the freelance business model and putting in bids on different projects. In this kind of stripped down contract environment, being valuable means how you will improve this persons business. Plain and simple. Stripped of all emotion, an employer has a need for a developer or designer to accomplish a job and you are there to fix that problem.

Emotion tends to get tangled in the hiring process because we're sometimes really excited about the opportunity or the work, that we focus on how this is the best position ever and we'd be so glad to have it. The idea that you, although a human being in your own beautiful right, are there to solve a problem is an after thought.

For example, I recently interviewed for what I thought was an amazing opportunity. It was right smack dab in the part of tech I most want to be a part of. I was very enthusiastic during it and the person I was speaking to told me that I was a great cultural fit for the company. The problem, however, was that he had a specific problem he needed solved. And in retrospect, I did not do a good enough job explaining why hiring me was going to solve it.

Business when stripped of all the large offices and mountains of bureaucracy, is fairly simple. There's a service that clients pay money for, and the cost of having that service shouldn't be more than what you can gain from it.

Now to the Selling

Glen Gary Glen Ross

So once you understand that you as an employee, developer, and so on are there to solve an employers problems, then we can start the conversation of how to sell. Value amounts to how much you can solve their problem or add to their business. Do they find a specific part of their business annoying or pesky? Can you make that part easier for them? Are they unsatisfied with a particular aspect of their business like their site design or functionality? Can you solve those design or functional issues?

Approaching an interview from the lens of solving an employers problems will help you better understand where they are approaching the hiring process. Cultural fit is important but so is being effective.

Now to begin to understand how to sell yourself, means you have to understand yourself and your skills much better. Also, that means approaching the right opportunities where the value you offer is seen rather than glossed over. Are you a developer designer that can work more intimately with UX/UI designers? Then probably communicating value to an employer with backend issues won't go over as smoothly.

Selling yourself means understanding the employer employee relationship and what special niche or combination of skills you possess and seeking out opportunities where those skills are valued. With all three of these in place, you can more easily zero in on what makes you a good candidate over others. You are a good fit for the job because you are X and their problem Y requires somebody like yourself that can make those issues easier or non-existent.

I'm obviously not perfect on this by any means, but I thought I'd share some great gains in conveying value. Thanks

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