By John Sonmez January 13, 2010

Selling Yourself: How (Part 2)

See Part 1 Selling Yourself: Why

There is a right or good way to market yourself.

Selling yourself tastefully takes some practice and thought.  It really is a soft skill that must be acquired and thought about.  It takes some amount of social engineering.  Like all products, the better the product, the easier it is to market.  Here are some tips I find useful for marketing yourself as a professional developer.

1. Create a weekly report of exactly what work you did each day of the week. The report should include a brief description of the major and minor accomplishments each day and perhaps a summary or highlight of any major accomplishments you did.  Especially mention mentoring or helping other people.  Send the weekly report voluntarily to your boss and CC your boss's boss as an FYI.  I know it's a bit difficult to find a good way to CC your boss's boss, but try to find a good way to do it that is tasteful.  (For example, something like “I thought you might also like to receive these weekly reports I am sending out just as a FYI.” )  The benefit of doing this is two-fold.  First, you will be highlighting all the good work you are doing to your boss and his boss, in a way that isn't like “tooting your own horn.”  Second, you will provide yourself a documented history of work you accomplished which is useful for reviews, protection against wrongful termination, and resume building.

2. Update your resumé periodically, and your public profiles, LinkedIn etc. By keeping your resumé constantly up-to-date, you are ready to find a job quickly if you become unemployed.  This will give you a safety net, which will allow you to feel more comfortable being a professional and sometimes saying “no”.  In addition, opportunities will come to you when you have your public profiles up-to-date.

3. Get a library of books and put them up for display. (Read them, or you are just faking it.)  If you have a mountain of books you have read, but they are sitting in a box at home, they are not marketing you.  When I walk into a developer's office and I look at his or her books I can tell many things about them already.  When managers walk by and they see someone with a large number of programming books, it says something to them about your dedication and knowledge.

4. If you have certifications frame them and put them on your wall, or on your cube. Yeah, I know it may seem cheesy, and you may get poked fun at a bit.  But take it light-hearted and don't brag about the certification, deep down inside the people poking jabs about certs really are feeling threatened they don't have certifications.

5. Help other developers, all the time. Be they guy that everyone asks their development questions to.  When someone needs help figuring something out, volunteer.  Help train the junior developers.  Doing this will give you a reputation of being knowledgeable and helpful.  Answering questions on Stackoverflow counts towards this if you have time.

6. Prepare some power points and offer to give demonstrations or presentations on a project you did, or a new technology or methodology you want to introduce.

7. Be vocal. Make sure that you are speaking up.  In meetings, in design sessions, in general have something to say.  Make sure you are not talking for the sake of talking, but contribute information and ideas.  Doing this will help demonstrate your knowledge and critical thinking.

8. Make occasional visits to the boss. Make sure you are being seen by management every once in a while and when you do, mention new ideas you have of ways to make your team better or more efficient.  Offer to spearhead the implementation of those ideas.

9. Take some risks in order to make things better. Sometimes you have to bet big to win big.  Sometimes you have to do a controversial thing, or not get permission before you do something that will greatly improve development quality or output.  Increasing developer quality through creating developer tools is very valuable and very visible.  Just make sure if you take a risk that if you accomplish it, it will have high returns for the company.  People who do stupid things without permission get fired.  People who do brilliant things without permission get praised.

The bottom line is, if you're not selling yourself, you're selling yourself short.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."