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JoeDavola

Joe Davola's 'Career' - Question for Contracting Bods

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I generally enjoy my job but there's times when I get frustrated at the dead-end aspect of it and recent changes in management mean that things are becoming more annoying, with an increasing chain of people taking credit for my work to help justify their own jobs; when I'm the lowest paid out of the lot of 'em. It's starting to grate on me.

So whilst I won't be leaving soon, I'm looking to slowly maneuver myself into a position where I'd be a strong candidate to pick up a bit of contract work. I have over 5 years experience in a reasonably niche area, in some cases having to fix and rework projects that expensive contractors had fucked up, so I'd be going in with real world experience, but I'm wondering what else I can do to supplement this, I had been thinking:

- Go over old projects and use them to write up a CV of sorts

- Certification exams - generally I'm skeptical about certifications if they're not backed up by experience, but since this is a niche and I've got the experience to back it up, I think getting the exams might be worthwhile.

- Writing Blog Posts / a Book - yes, a book. There's really only two books out there on the thing that I'm an expert in, and neither of them go into the detail that I've used it. I could write a book and self-publish on the Kindle store, one that takes a problem/solution approach that's more advanced than the books that are currently out there. I'm quite good at explaining technical things and summarizing technical ideas and would like the challenge of writing even a short book - and I'm assuming having my name against a book would raise my profile somewhat?

What do you reckon, would any of this make any difference whatsoever when it came to tapping in to a potentially very lucrative contracting market?

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1 hour ago, JoeDavola said:

I generally enjoy my job but there's times when I get frustrated at the dead-end aspect of it and recent changes in management mean that things are becoming more annoying, with an increasing chain of people taking credit for my work to help justify their own jobs; when I'm the lowest paid out of the lot of 'em. It's starting to grate on me.

So whilst I won't be leaving soon, I'm looking to slowly maneuver myself into a position where I'd be a strong candidate to pick up a bit of contract work. I have over 5 years experience in a reasonably niche area, in some cases having to fix and rework projects that expensive contractors had fucked up, so I'd be going in with real world experience, but I'm wondering what else I can do to supplement this, I had been thinking:

- Go over old projects and use them to write up a CV of sorts

- Certification exams - generally I'm skeptical about certifications if they're not backed up by experience, but since this is a niche and I've got the experience to back it up, I think getting the exams might be worthwhile.

- Writing Blog Posts / a Book - yes, a book. There's really only two books out there on the thing that I'm an expert in, and neither of them go into the detail that I've used it. I could write a book and self-publish on the Kindle store, one that takes a problem/solution approach that's more advanced than the books that are currently out there. I'm quite good at explaining technical things and summarizing technical ideas and would like the challenge of writing even a short book - and I'm assuming having my name against a book would raise my profile somewhat?

What do you reckon, would any of this make any difference whatsoever when it came to tapping in to a potentially very lucrative contracting market?

Yes.  It will also take you through a process by the end of which you will be confident and ready to make the leap.

52 minutes ago, sarahbell said:


Only if your book gets to the top of the lists. 
 

I think third in a list of three would still work.

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The motivational self-help mantra I live by, no doubt coined by some wise philosopher forgotten in history, is 'don't stop, never give up, hold you head high and reach the top. Let the world see what you have got'. 

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I don’t know anything about your line of work JD.

However I would say that you should seriously consider starting a blog or writing an ebook about your niche area purely for the personal satisfaction of being immersed in a project and creating an original work.

You have nothing to lose IMO and it may just aid your vision of securing some self employment. That would be a nice bonus!

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8 minutes ago, SNACR said:

The motivational self-help mantra I live by, no doubt coined by some wise philosopher forgotten in history, is 'don't stop, never give up, hold you head high and reach the top. Let the world see what you have got'. 

You been watching Holes again?

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1 hour ago, JoeDavola said:

Writing Blog Posts / a Book - yes, a book. There's really only two books out there on the thing that I'm an expert in, and neither of them go into the detail that I've used it. I could write a book and self-publish on the Kindle store, one that takes a problem/solution approach that's more advanced than the books that are currently out there. I'm quite good at explaining technical things and summarizing technical ideas and would like the challenge of writing even a short book - and I'm assuming having my name against a book would raise my profile somewhat?

Watch this video from Dominic Frisby with the chap from unbound.

It may (or may not) change your life.

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I don't believe you need to go down the writing book/blog route.  Just stick your CV up on jobsite and jobserve and see what happens but be prepared for the phone calls from the agencies. I.e are you in a position to take phone calls during the workday? 

 

If you are worried about not having the experience take a contract with a lower rate for 6 months or so.

 

Are you prepared to leave NI and take a contract across the water?

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What @montecristo said.

I would also add that if you do want to regularly check out post and build up your image as an expert then the best place to do it might be LinkedIn rather than trying to get relevant visitors to a blog page or web site. Can be surprisingly effective. 

Edited by The Idiocrat

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The take home pay in future may be fairly reduced in future depending what happens in next week's budget. I would wait and see what's coming there.

If you want flexible changing work and what comes with that then contracting is definitely the way to go. However be aware the ££ benefits may be dropping quite a bit in future.

Nobody knows though. Same for rates. 

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In terms of the blog/book stuff. That's what I did back in the mid 2000's, I was interested in a certain new technology and I wanted to explore it further, but at the time there were little to no resources available. I did it for my own enjoyment but it lead to a number of side projects and work related to it. 

I became known as one of the leading experts in the field globally, that being more a comment on how low the bar is rather than bigging myself up. I don't think it did my career or CV prospects any harm at all and I've no doubt I got some jobs off the back of it (even if it was a very minor tipping point in my favour). 

I never quite got to the book, there were a couple of offers on the table, but didn't happen for one reason or other. I did have a number of emails from the eventual authors of the books I was offered and the did mention how much of my work they used, flattering but I do regret not pushing it more on that front.

Having said all that I'd only go down that route if it's something you would enjoy doing. 

From my experience certifications will do you well in the bigger corporate environments, but I suspect if you have a niche then it's not going to make a difference. 

I'd definitely recommend sorting out the CV though, focus on the detail of bigger successful projects and demonstrate how you personally impacted it. 

 

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Having written a book lends credibility to your claims to be "able to do the work".

Except that other people are also able to "do that work". What would make you stand out and be different in such a way that the book would offer something genuinely new?

If it's of a technical nature then that isn't going to directly help to recruit new clients as much as being able point to half a dozen extant pieces of work and say "I did that for them and I can do it for you too".

In this respect, I'd go with your option A and create yourself a nice portfolio website and CV featuring you and your work. You really need to have that for a business meeting with a prospect but you don't need the book. It's not the same audience.

Then try to get other projects, which can sometimes be via external project managers and contractors on-site where you work - that was my route out of employment and into self-employment. 

In short, I'd do the practical not the theory and look at getting some projects via leads that trust you because they know you and who don't need to read a book.

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15 hours ago, SNACR said:

The motivational self-help mantra I live by, no doubt coined by some wise philosopher forgotten in history, is 'don't stop, never give up, hold you head high and reach the top. Let the world see what you have got'. 

Socrates, I think. Or possibly Lao Tzu. 

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I wouldn't bother trying to make a "name" or "brand" for yourself by doing what everyone else is (trying to) do. Ultimately penning a few articles on a blog somewhere doesn't count for much.

I employ 5 developers (some part time, some full time). The first one (in Scotland) I found on RentACoder about 7 years ago and he ended up working for me ever since. Similar stories with the others, although for not quite the same length of time. I didn't bother looking into how well they were able to market themselves - IME many developers are crap at marketing.

 

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16 minutes ago, spunko2010 said:

I wouldn't bother trying to make a "name" or "brand" for yourself by doing what everyone else is (trying to) do. Ultimately penning a few articles on a blog somewhere doesn't count for much.

In my experience devs who "active in the community" (books, blogs, event speakers etc) are the worst people to hire when you want to  just get a job done simply and without fuss. The main problem with such people is that they lack humility and the ability to compromise and they will treat any opportunity to code as a mean of forwarding their personal agenda about how things should be done rather than looking after the bottom line of people paying them. These people tend to have an innate distain of everything that has happen in the industry prior to them arriving on the scene to tell everyone whats what. Don't be that guy, be the quietly competent coder, the guy who can draw on tried and tested technologies that get the job done, the guy who isn't scared to call things out when required yet is capable of working with other peoples ideas, thats what people want when they hire contractors.

 

Edited by goldbug9999

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21 minutes ago, goldbug9999 said:

In my experience devs who "active in the community" (books, blogs, event speakers etc) are the worst people to hire when you want to  just get a job done simply and without fuss. The main problem with such people is that they lack humility and the ability to compromise and they will treat any opportunity to code as a mean of forwarding their personal agenda about how things should be done rather than looking after the bottom line of people paying them. These people tend to have an innate distain of everything that has happen in the industry prior to them arriving on the scene to tell everyone whats what. Don't be that guy, be the quietly competent coder, the guy who can draw on tried and tested technologies that get the job done, the guy who isn't scared to call things out when required yet is capable of working with other peoples ideas, thats what people want when they hire contractors.

Agreed - I am suspicious of overly self-promoting types, and suspect other competent software folk would be too.

33 minutes ago, spunko2010 said:

I wouldn't bother trying to make a "name" or "brand" for yourself by doing what everyone else is (trying to) do. Ultimately penning a few articles on a blog somewhere doesn't count for much.

I employ 5 developers (some part time, some full time). The first one (in Scotland) I found on RentACoder about 7 years ago and he ended up working for me ever since. Similar stories with the others, although for not quite the same length of time. I didn't bother looking into how well they were able to market themselves - IME many developers are crap at marketing.

Interesting - I'd assumed 'rent a coder' type sites were useless for westeners because they were full of folk from Chindia offering to work for fuck all.

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20 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Interesting - I'd assumed 'rent a coder' type sites were useless for westeners because they were full of folk from Chindia offering to work for fuck all.

Most of the offshore people are shite, well arnt shite technically but you will have to put so much effort into telling them precisely what to do that it becomes a waste of time, so you will occasionally get someone prepared to pay a decent ish rate for someone they don't have to hand hold.

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41 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Agreed - I am suspicious of overly self-promoting types, and suspect other competent software folk would be too.

Interesting - I'd assumed 'rent a coder' type sites were useless for westeners because they were full of folk from Chindia offering to work for fuck all.

They are full of those, but you can filter them out (and I always do). A lot of the people I've employed were laid off in the recession in 2008/2009.

It is a case of you get what you pay for. I employ some people in the Philipines for menial unskilled stuff for $4 an hour, but most decent developers want $40+.

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