In this post, I provide some tips on how you can set yourself apart from the rest and stand out as a developer.
This is not the same as making yourself look better. It is about putting in the effort to get noticed. About getting noticed for the right reasons.
Demand For Non-Social Coders Dropped 📉
The days of the white-skinned, heavy metal wearing coders that sit in the basement of a company all day are gone.
No longer the people that are rambling on their keyboard as soon as orders are piling up on their desks are what companies are looking for.
Companies have long past the stage where they are looking for tech warriors that simply do as they’re told. Where they tell and you build the solution like manager X or Y is demanding in Bigcorp Inc.
This is partly thanks to new technologies and the possibility to look up all sorts of information for free on the interwebs.
Communicative Developers Are King 👑 (and Queen 👸)
It no longer matters most how good you are at your technical specialty. Communication has become more and more key to getting hired by smart companies.
Business People Need A Technical Partner
To be clear: A partner != a minion that blindly follows your instructions.
Every large company has (product) managers, a business department or customer relations facet. These are all facets that require companies to hire developers who can translate functional- and business needs into clear requirements. And it’s even better if you can be on the same level as those non-technical people.
So look at the demand that is being spelled out for you, and dare to invest further than the first answer that is given.
Just ask deeper to find out what underlying problem has made them specify their request. And provide business people value by providing them with alternatives, a clear explanation of why request are or aren’t possible. And indicate when things will increase complexity (and cost) immensely.
Startups Need Communication Too 🚀
In a small team that needs to operate at a high pace, be super productive and flexible enough to move along with market tendencies, communication is one of the top priorities as well. Without communicative people, the whole startup team will collapse and stumble upon each other.
No wonder that the technical people that will be hired for a startup are the ones that can translate market needs into technical and functional specifications. At a startup, everybody needs to do tasks that are outside of their specialty, and overlaps of things like marketing, sales, (human) networking, product development and presenting at events.
This means that you as a developer are often asked to perform things that aren’t necessarily in your comfort zone. There’s no hiding behind your laptop when you’re out and about to represent your company at a large niche event.
Share Your Knowledge And Progress 📯
Nowadays, there are a lot of ways in which you can communicate your thoughts, ideas, and vision to the rest of the world. Technology made sure of that.
But what the real value of technology has become in the aspect of communication, is that it helps us to connect, and create a stage for yourself.
It would be foolish to not step upon the stage that has been build upon the Internet. A stage that enabled us to share your goals, the achievements you’ve made, and the failures and lessons learned that you encountered during the journey towards your goals.
And therein lies the naked truth: You can use the technological advancements of platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. And media types such as podcasts, blogs, and video channels.
Make sure to look for what you know and what gives you energy. And translate it into topics, visions or guidance that you can share with the rest of the world. Because I will promise you this:
If you learn how to master this stage, provide real value to others, and get a spotlight of online attention on yourself you will open doors and enable successes you would never have held possible in your life today.
📘 Reading Tip: In his book “Crushing It!”, Gary Vaynerchuck discusses how to use social media and online distribution of what you know. He also mentions how “documenting your journey” can be rewarding as it will become a reference for many in the future if your career and/or products take off.
Tips That Will Help You To Stand Out As A Developer 🔦
Without further ado, I’ll show you some concrete tips that will help you to stand out as a developer. Your mileage may vary – amongst others, depending on your profile and the niche you’re operating in. But most of the tips I list below helped me to get noticed and help inspire others along the way.
Tip 1: Update Your Online Presence 👩🏾💼👨🏼💼
People will Google you nowadays. When you apply for a job. Or when they read a blog post by you or when they see that one message, tweet or quote passing by on the endless timeline of social media.
And you can’t stop them from doing so. What you can do about it, is making sure that when they DO Google you, they’ll find an up-to-date representation of yourself online.
Think about stuff like:
- If you have a website and/or blog and/or online portfolio. Make sure that the information is correct and that your personal information on it is correct and showcases the most important things (that will help you reach your goals!) on the first screen that it will drop down on.
- Ensure that your online resumes and/or profiles on a website like LinkedIn, Dev.To, GitHub and similar platforms represent you. It is important that they show your personal achievements and your added value instead of project history. Project history might be less clear to people that don’t know the companies or work you’ve done so it is best to explain how you added value and what impact it had.
- Make your presence about what you are focussing on now and in the near future. Not solely about your past. It’s like riding a bike or sitting behind the wheel: you will start to move into the direction that you’re looking at. It works kinda the same for your online representation. If you’ve done Ruby On Rails years ago, but want to focus on product development and mobile apps, just remove that Ruby On Rails mention from your profile. It enables that you will stand out for what you want to be doing and prevents that people will reach out to you for things you once did, instead of for things you want to be doing.
Tip 3: Write Down Your Journey ✍🏻
Every developer needs to start somewhere. Every product-creator has to begin with a first product. And every maker needs to make stuff until they actually make it.
What will set you apart from the rest is
- you take the effort and time to write about it
- show the guts to be open and honest about your experiences (both the good ones and the bad ones)
Everybody loves to see how peers or people in a similar situation are trying to achieve their goals. Especially if you’re going to be transparent on how you’re going to go about it. Transparent enough to talk about the falls and rises of your journey.
In the worst case, you’ll have written down your story so you can check back later how you went about all those years ago. But I’m pretty sure that people love to read about your struggles and learn from them.
You’ll see that you’ll get noticed. It may take months, perhaps a year or two. But once you’re going about it on your blog, vlog, Instagram account or whatever medium you choose, you’ll get attention.
Keep in mind though that you can always help to spread your word by checking out what platform represents “your crowd” the most and share your content there.
Tip 4: Reach Out And Help People 🤝🙌🏻
If you want to stand out, do so by helping out people. This could be as simple as answering Quora questions, share your answers and visions on LinkedIn conversations or participate in Facebook groups where peers and like-minded people are communicating together.
There it is again, that word communication. It could be as simple as:
communicating what you know to help to solve the problems, remove the doubts they’re experiencing or helping them to see things from a different angle.
It is this 💯👆🏻 why the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” is so valid, even today. Even for us techies and online creatives and product makers.
If there is one truth that I want to burn into each Shipharder.com reader’s cranium, it is this:
There is nothing more valuable than a creator that creates value for others first.
You don’t need to build spaceships. And even if you do, they won’t come.
But you CAN build value. By helping others, sharing knowledge, changing mindsets and opening eyes.
If you do that and keep pursuing that, you’ll eventually be found. By living by it, and looking towards the horizon at the place you want to be, you’ll get to find more likeminded people. You’ll become a member of communities that strengthen your path, get followers that dig what you got to say and point you towards the right places or open doors for you.
It’s just the nature of people and their communities. Go about and mingle, then find out what your part in the new setting is, or could be.
Go further than sharing your story. Ask others for their story, think on how you look at their situation from your experience and genuinely help.
Let me be clear on one thing though. Because I can already hear you ponder:
“No way I’m going to put all that time of mine into helping others while I’m still figuring out how I’m going to reach my goals”.
You. Don’t. Have. To. Spend. Hours. Helping. Others. To. Get. Value. From. Providing. Value. 🙅🏻♂️⛔️🚫
The only thing you’ll need to do is to be consistent in doing it.
ie: 15 minutes of answering Quora questions per (working) day can be enough. But do it each working day and don’t skip it because you “don’t feel like it” or “don’t get immediate value in return”.
Keep going for it because you care, because you want to help others and provide #valuefirst. And because you know that this is something that will – if ever – pay itself back in the long haul. Check out a related post on Shipharder.com called Consistency Pays Off to find out in more depth how consistency can be rewarding.
Tip 5: Build An Experience Like None Before 🎁
It sounds like a magic pill: build it and they will come. But that is not what I mean with this.
Show people your creativity, the eccentricity of your thoughts or just that twist that you’ve developed to make things just a little bit different than others.
I’m not talking about building the next operating system or enterprise graded platform here.
I’m talking about envisioning an experience – like an app, a proof of concept, a website, Internet of Things solutions or whatever – that just approaches things differently in a good way. No, in an unprecedented way.
If you know how to build a little solution (I said build, it isn’t even necessary to code it) that makes something ordinary easy because it’s solving the problem in a new way, or enable people to do things they couldn’t do before, you’ll get noticed.
This could be a side project or a hackathon solution that is built in 24 hours. It’s the novelty and will set you apart from the rest.
Final Thoughts 🤔
If you read this post thoroughly, you’ve probably seen the strongest backbones on which my tips and suggestions were based upon:
- creating value
- focussing and showing yourself on what you want to be doing instead of where you’ve been
I truly believe that these three form pillars that make up the fundaments of this kind of temple of faith. Faith in yourself, and creating faith given by others. The kind of faith that gives people a reason to look at you as an enabler, an able developer, and a trustworthy partner to work with.
What more, if nothing else, than faith in you as a person and you as a professional, could a developer truly want to set them apart from others?
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Code Hard, Ship Harder
This post also appeared on Dev.To