It's Hard to Commoditize Talent

2014-12-10 03:45:00 UTC

I’ve been afforded the opportunity to help several people enter the developer world professionally. Helping people enter a lucrative career that they enjoy doing has been a rewarding experience.

One question that new developers often ask me is “What certifications can I take to become a better Ruby/Javascript/thing_x developer?”. The simple answer is that there is no such certificate out there, or if there is, it is of little value to prospective employers. That’s not a bad thing.

In fields such as network administration*, one can study for an exam, pass the test and start looking for work. We’re not so lucky as developers. Or are we?

The great thing about software development when compared to other IT occupations is that we have an uncapped potential value offering to employers. We can build platforms that generate millions of dollars or solve unbearable pains. Programming skill goes beyond an ability to measure facts and requires us to use be creative in ways that can’t be easily measured.

My advice to new developers looking to polish their resumes is to avoid certifications completely and instead focus on how they can showcase their ability to solve problems with computers. Usually, this means contributing to opensource projects, teaching or speaking at events (there are plenty of other outlets, but these are the most common).

So put down your flash cards and go have fun solving some problems in front of others. It will make you a more marketable developer and you will learn more in the process.

Further reading: Coding Horror

*FULL DISCLOSURE: I used to be a network administrator