How to Market Yourself As a Programmer
So you’re a great programmer. You’ve got the qualifications. You’ve built some pretty good mock websites. You have the fundamentals on your fingertips. Your code is efficient and robust. You’re ready to start freelancing or get into full time employment but somehow you can’t seem to get anyone to hire you. At least not anyone good.
Funny enough, the market for good programmers is booming right now. Heck, even the below-average programmer is desperately needed. With large tech companies like Google and Facebook hiring all the best talent, companies will take anyone who has some level of programming expertise.
Despite all this, I’ve learnt the hard truth that having great programming skills without the right marketing techniques is pointless. That’s because people don’t actually care about your skills. They only care about the final product. So its important to learn how to show your potential clients (or employers) the value of your products.
I’ve come up with 6 tips to remember when trying to market yourself as a programmer.
1. Get your name out there
When people hear your name they should equate that to programmer. Do you have a blog? A LinkedIn profile? A StackOverflow account? A GitHub account? What do you see when you Google yourself? Do you attend technical meetups around you? The whole package. Get involved.
I’m a good example in this case. I have never actually shown my projects online. Its something I choose to only reveal when I’m asked about them specifically and one can’t read my programming skill level based on my blog alone, but somehow my name is always linked to programming.
When anyone I know is asked to recommend a programmer for a job, my name comes up. Not because I’m the greatest at it but because I have really taken the time to get my name out there as a programmer.
2. Be official and organised
If you really want to attract the big clients, you really have to look like you’ve got your stuff together. If someone asks you what kind of programming you specialize in, have your elevator pitch for that memorized.
If they want to get to know more about you and how to contact you, you must be able to produce a business card. If they want to know the entire process involved in working with you, you should be able to lay out a clear description of your process.
Take it a step further and have a requirements gathering questionnaire nearby in case they want to know what it is you would need from them should they hire you.
Bottom line is, you never know where you will meet a potential client. And getting their attention is only the first step. Holding it is harder. You have to win them over right when you meet them by being completely prepared for anything.
3. Create a Portfolio
The best way to actually show employers your skills is to build a portfolio. Preferably one that showcases work that actually solves real problems.
Ideally, it should be online and is simply a collection of all the projects you’ve worked on with screenshots attached to each project. Getting testimonials on it is a huge plus.
Emily Ridge has a beautiful portfolio website that is the perfect example of an effective portfolio. A screenshot of it is pictured above. It clearly and beautifully displays her work proving to any potential client the value of her product.
4. Target the right companies/clients
If you really want to be a programmer stop applying for every IT role that’s advertised. Not every role is programming specific. I would also advise against applying to firms that don’t specialize in software development.
Patrick Wyatt explains it best, companies that create software products or develop software services are where you want to be. Why? Because they’re responsible for making money, and will be better treated as a result.
If you work at a company where you’re building internal tools or services, your team is a cost center, and there is an entirely different set of goals.
Similarly, if you freelance, choose your clients wisely. Analyse their needs and what would be profitable to them. Take into consideration their market too. There’s no point making a complex menu system for a restaurant based in a small town with only a few tech savvy people.
5. Know your USP (Unique Selling Point)
With so many developers out there, you need to be able to stand out. You have a CS degree? Well so do 1000 other graduates. You’ve worked on a big project before? You’re not the first. You want to create an app? There’s 10 other developers before you who have had that exact idea.
You have to find a niche for yourself that sets you apart from other developers. Be a unicorn. What is it about you that makes you the perfect person to hire? Use that angle to sell yourself as a programmer.
6. Show some personality
People generally are drawn to charismatic and down-to-earth people. I’m a strong introvert but I know how to turn on the charm when I want to win over a client. You must be able to show that you’re a well rounded individual and not just a rigid workaholic.
Think about it, how many times have you bought something from salesperson just because they were friendly? After all, no matter how skilled you are, nobody wants to work with an unfriendly person.
How do you market yourself as a programmer? Comment below…