We spend approximately 80.000 hours once our career comes to a halt. This is our only chance to make a difference. The line is very thin between a fulfilling career and a career that hardly pays your bills. The faster you learn these lessons, the more fulfilling career you can expect as a software developer.

1. Specialize

If you offer the same services that everyone else offers, you will target an average salary at best. Shoot for the fences by specializing in a niche that employers are looking for.

Check some job ads, and observe what skills employers are looking for. Find out what the best developers have to offer. Offer the same combination, and add your personal touch to it.

Be fully up-to-date with the latest technologies, the latest version numbers. Always train yourself. Remember, you are an expert. You offer premium services in exchange for a premium price. A generalist can mainly offer a price discount. Would you like to be the best or the cheapest choice?

2. Market yourself properly

Finding your specialization is not enough. As a bare minimum, you have to create a LinkedIn profile, and a resume reflecting your specialization.

The trick to turning resumes into interviews is tailoring your resume and your cover letter to the requirements of the position you are applying for. Sending out a generalized resume is just as effective as going to a singles bar and proposing marriage to the first person you see. You might find someone really desperate, but resumes bragging about your PHP skills will hardly ever win you an embedded C++ position.

If you want to go the extra mile, create a blog, a portfolio, and a GitHub account with meaningful projects. Post your accomplishments on HackerNews and on other sites. Some people will give you feedback. Some people may even follow you.

3. Focus on Soft Skills

Some people say, it is not their job to handle the emotions of others. The same people forget to realize that their own behavior triggered these emotions. The same people will never end up in lead positions.

I have seen so many sources of miscommunication throughout my career that I can now claim that the most money is lost because of lack of soft skills and communication skills.

If you keep having heated debates, google the four steps of nonviolent communication: observe things, express your feelings, communicate your needs, and formulate a request.

Influencing other people, and forcing them to do something does not work in the long run. People cooperate with you if you make them engaged by making them feel important and involved in the relationship with you.

On a technical level, everyone is good enough at the top. The difference between the masses and the selected few with extraordinary career opportunities lies in soft skills.

4. Negotiate

Not many companies reward you with extraordinary raises. As long as you do an excellent job, you often stay where you are. Your lead is often interested in keeping you where you are, as you do a damn good job.

Sometimes you have to get the courage to negotiate. If you don’t stand up for yourself, no-one will.

In his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant claims an interesting phenomenon. Comparing givers, who give more than what they take; takers, who are interested in exploiting every opportunity; and matchers, who strive for balance between giving and taking, studies show that at the very bottom in terms of career success, there are mainly givers. Wondering about the top, surprisingly, the same studies show that the most successful people are also givers.

Think about this for a moment. Matchers are less successful than givers. If you target the top, you have to give value. If you give enough value, negotiation will be made easy for you. If you become a giver, opportunities will chase you. For those who are interested in becoming takers, I suggest closing this article, and trying out FBI hostage negotiation techniques to get ahead in their careers.

The key to career success is to be a giver by creating the right value at the right time, giving exactly what your employer needs badly. Then be assertive enough to reap the rewards.

This is The Developer’s Edge

These four steps characterize my book, The Developer’s Edge. You will find a specialization for yourself, and be crystal clear on your career plan. You will also learn the ins and outs of marketing yourself. You will get an overview of the soft skills to be more successful in your career than 99% of the software developers.

Out of the eight chapters, four chapters contribute to your negotiation success. You will learn how to make your own emotions support you instead of limiting you when negotiating with confidence. In the soft skills section, you will learn assertive communication, non-violent communication, narrative influence, and you will know how to present your professional code of conduct. Two chapters directly deal with negotiating a raise or a new position for yourself, and applying for your dream job.

This book will save you a lot of time. While others try to get the edge by increasing their competence in things that don’t matter from the perspective of their job, you will know that you are on a good path towards your dream job.

Until the book is fully ready, I am offering it at a discount, continuously increasing its price as I add sections. You will get all the updates of the book until it’s finished, and I will notify you via email whenever a new section is published.

If you are interested in shaping your career, purchase the Developer’s Edge by clicking the button below.

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The Developer's Edge