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Shout it to the world. Show off the impact you have created.

Shout it to the world. Show off the impact you have created.

One of hardest things as an introverted developer is to get to the grips of promoting your work, having a sense of self-accomplishment.

Matt Smithies
Matt Smithies

One of hardest things as an introverted developer is to get to the grips of promoting your work, having a sense of self-accomplishment.

Actually, being able to communicate your historical value you have delivered at work can be difficult.

Sometimes it is easy to assume that that your knowledge and experience isn't that special, it becomes normalised for you.

Especially if you are consistent and incrementally deliver and it can difficult to claim that your impact is special. You'll just consider it another day.

Whilst on a walk in the Dorset countryside this Summer, I came across a field with sheep in it.  All but one of the sheep were lying down in the heat of the day.  I just thought, what a great photo that sums up being different or standing out in the crowd.  It is a great analogy for life, do you want to be part of the flock or stand out as being different?  The choice is yours and yours alone.  As an international conference speaker, I always like to stand out!!
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

One mistake I see in resumes is that the focus is on roles and skills. Yes, I am sure that you are an expert at what you do and you have experience in niche topics that sound interest but that isn't going to help.

You need to communicate to how your skills have actually impacted the team and the business around you.

The more quantitatively and concisely you can communicate your experiences within your resume the higher chance be selected for the next stage of an interview.

For each of your roles you should have 2-3 bulletpoints that describe some of your more major contributions, ideally ones which you had the most control and leadership over.

Framing your historic impact

Communicate your impact, what your actions have you taken and your acheivements from your previous roles.

Consider these questions, before composing each bulletpoint.

  1. What position in the team did you play in a contribution?
  2. What was the primary contribution?
  3. What benefit did it bring the company?
  4. Is there an initial measurable impact you are able to share?
  5. Are there any additional benefits, does your work provide ongoing time savings or decrease the costs in anyway?
  6. How long did it take to complete the work and gain the impact, this can prove urgency of your abilities to deliver especially in tight timeframes.
Photo by Micheile Henderson / Unsplash

Using a template to show your impact

You can use this template to get started with this process, once you are ready feel free to update and tweak for your specific purpose.

I (helped|spearheaded|contributed) to achieve {x} which (increased the customer lifetime value [benefit]) by {y} in a timeframe of {z} weeks/months.

Note: You have to be careful to not step on the toes of your team, potientially damaging relationships, when making these assertions by claiming that your impact was greater then it actually was.

Real examples of using this technique.

One of our primary goals at Coursematch in January 2020 was to reimplement the design of the mobile app, increase user opt-ins and provide a better onboarding experience to communicate our value.

At the end of 2019 we released the redesigned app.

When I update my resume this is one of the bullet points I will be adding to my role with Coursematch.

Increased app GDPR opt-ins by 95% and increased user interaction by redesigning our app onboarding flow over a 3 week period, which eventually resulted in reducing our CPL (cost per lead) by 40%.

As mentioned previously this will tie your individual actions to business outcomes, but in order to make an assertion data needs to be measured before and after. We use mixpanel to keep track of user events.

Consistently measuring data will allow you to continually improve and move the needle forward.

Here is another example, in August 2017 I worked with Code For Cash. I was tasked with increasing the amount of job opportunities that subscribers could access through their product. This is from my latest resume.

10x the amount of job opportunities for subscribers within 2 weeks. Architected and delivery of a bespoke scraping framework sourced through Google Custom Search (CSE) using template based public job boards.

The interesting line here is the first, it acts as the highlighting before the detail, although it is a little short. It is worth noting that I probably should rewrite it because CTOs/Lead Dev/Gatekeeper might not have the experience of the technology.

Instead, in retrospect I'll probably change it to something like.

Created a web scraping framework which increased available job opportunities for subscribers by 1000%, increasing the amount to opportunities to over 18k over a course of a month.

I am removing the reference to any technology and purely focusing on the business result, agnostic of technology.

Photo by Chase Clark / Unsplash

Frame yourself as a problem solver, an expert of the required technology.

By describing your impact in this way it will frame you as a problem sover who cares about the positive contribution to the business.

The closer your can get to visibility of business data, and how it changes from your direct impact the more negotiation power you have.

Find the data points, release, measure the difference, and use it as evidence to the benefits you have delivered.

These impacts might not be directly connected to a given business strategy, instead they might be focused purely on development only.

  • Did you create a script that saved time for your teammates?
  • Did you integrate a CI (Continuous Integration) workflow which decreased the time it takes to deploy to production or staging?
  • Have you written documentation which has helped to reduce the onboarding time of your team?

If it is measureable and you contributed to it you deserve the recognition. Time savings are extremely valulable, especially when compounded, and given how expensive developers can be.

Photo by Anne Nygård / Unsplash

While the focus is to show your value you'll always need to align the technical requirements of a role to your experience but the focus should be to convince the reader that you have the potiential to be a undeniable positive impact for the business.

I'm not suggesting that as a developer you should apply to any role where you have little to no experience in a Language or Framework you do not have expertise in.

Your role as a developer is to learn, adapt and grow, specific technology is less important.

In many cases you have to rewrite cover letters or modify your resume to use the correct language to appeal to the job at hand.