Big bucks

February 13th, 2003

Danno wants to earn big bucks ;-)

While of course I'm interested in this too, it is in the end that the real danger lies:

just because you can monkey around with J2EE middleware doesn't mean you are worth one tenth of the money that is spent on you
I've been pondering this for a while now. Most of the companies that hire contractors, are not capable of making a distinction between a good and a bad programmer. So how are good programmers able to prove they're good? How can you (honestly) prove that you're actually ten times more productive than the next guy/gal in line, who asks only half of the fee you ask?

BTW, nobody should have a problem convincing somebody with mere buzzword throwing. It's a weapon the next in line will use too, so don't be afraid/shy/"political correct" to do it.

Another tip: when asked "how well do you know X?", don't be afraid to say "very well!". I've experienced situations when I answered "well, I've been playing around with it, but it's not really my area of expertise.", while the next in line just said "I know it!", but didn't know where the start button was, so to speak.

Probably it's not plain dishonesty of those people. The more you know, the more you know what you don't know. I want to explain this to you: imagine that everything there is to know, is a plane. The things you know, is a filled circle in that plane. Now, imagine a small circle. It has a small boundary, so for somebody inside that circle, it is just to say "there is little that I see that I don't know yet". And imagine a BIG circle. It has a very BIG boundary. A person in a big circle will be more apt to say "There is much I don't know yet." Which doesn't mean he knows less, only that he sees more that there still is to know. (I hope this is a bit clear. Courtesy of a teacher in high school. It's a bit more clear when drawn on a chalk board, I guess.)

So to conclude: when presenting your knowledge, don't concentrate on everything you don't know, but on everything you do know. Now if only I could do this in practice instead of in theory ...

6 Responses to “Big bucks”

  1. Mats Henricson Says:
    How can you (honestly) prove that you're actually ten times more productive than the next guy/gal in line, who asks only half of the fee you ask? The best way, I think, is to show your stuff in public. I do at http://upl.codeq.info I'm willing to give the code to anyone interviewing me for a job, as a proof that I wrote that code, and to show that my code rocks. That packing list is a pretty trivial application, but it will grow over time to be more ambitious.
  2. Tom Klaasen Says:
    "Most of the companies that hire contractors, are not capable of making a distinction between a good and a bad programmer." This means: they don't understand your code. And OSS doesn't give an indication to how productive you are, because there is no time limit. Did you spend one day on your site? Or 5 months? (This is not to say that OSS is a bad thing: some companies do know good code when they see it. But I was talking about the other ones, which are in the majority, I think.)
  3. Mats Henricson Says:
    Being able to show some good code must be better than none at all! Also, showing such code does prove that you know the basics in a number of technologies. A 15 minute look at my code would tell you that I know the basics, at least, of XML, XSD, XSL, Servlets and Java. It doesn't prove anything about my productivity, though, I'll have to agree on that.
  4. Tom Klaasen Says:
    Oops, sorry Mats. My remark certainly wasn't aimed at you personally or at your site. My sincere excuses if it appeared to be that way. I agree with you that showing your code is very good to give impressions to somebody who understands code. But I'm still wondering how you can convince somebody who *doesn't* know any code. The best I can compare with, I think, is a plumber's business: I'm an home owner, and I want to have my bathroom innovated. I ask several plumbers to come by and give me an estimate of the costs. Now, how do I pick one? I know absolutely nothing about the plumber's trade. Yes, I know that you can connect 2 pipes with some kind of coupling without having to weld something these days. But how about the size of the pipes? How much have the drains to be inclined to allow for good flow? Beats me. The plumber can tell me "go look in that house, I did the plumbing there", but how can I evaluate his work? Will the pipes start leaking in 2 year's time? Will the shower drain be clogged with hair all the time? Hmm, this analogy in fact seems to be a good one: I can ask the owners of the pipes if they thought he did a good job (although the plumber won't refer me to a previous project whose owners he's having issues with), I can ask acquiantances who installed pipes who they chose, and why, ... Just thinking out loud. Maybe some day I'll solve the puzzle, and start getting at those big bucks that were the entry's title ;-)
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