Developer – 3 Tips Every SQL Expert Needs to Know to Land the Perfect Job (Part 2 of 3)

I am very fortunate that I know John Sonmez in person. He is one of those individuals who understands the young mind of developers and depth of software development industry. I am a regular follower of his books, videos and ideas. I have personally implemented many of his ideas in my personal life and I have seen dramatic improvement. Earlier this month, I requested him to share his views and suggestions with all of us on this blog. He kindly accepted the request and returned with three amazing blog posts and a plethora of giveaways.

Let us read the John Sonmez in his own words in this second part of a three part series. You can read the first part of this series over here.

Welcome back, this is the second post in my three-part series where I am bringing you three of my best tips, from my new book, “Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual”, to help you land your dream job.

You can find part one of the series here.

Oh, and don’t forget the giveaway for How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer. I’ll be doing at the end of the next post. You won’t want to miss that, so bookmark this page and check back tomorrow.

Tip #2: Get a personal referral

Sure, getting a personal referral is easy enough if you already know someone at the company you are applying for, but what if you don’t?

It can still be done. You just might have to work a little harder at it.

Start with who you know that might know someone at the company you are applying for. Ask them to introduce you and offer to buy them a cup of coffee—or even a nice lunch.

But, do yourself a favor, don’t try and “sell them” or “network,” instead just have a friendly chat and try to get to know them a little better.

A little known secret to the interview process is that interviewers almost always hire people they like. Yes, technical skills are important, but often the deciding factor in who gets the offer and who gets the rejection letter has completely to do with who the interviewer liked more.

Now, the person who refers you for a job might not be the same person who interviews you, but if you want to get a good referral, the same principle applies.

What if you don’t know someone who knows someone at the company?

If you don’t have someone that can make the introduction for you, make it yourself.

Try and find a few employees at the company you are applying at and see if they have blogs or a twitter account. Comment on their blogs or start interacting with them on social media.

There is almost always a way to reach someone at a company that you want to work at.

Today, the internet makes it very easy for you to build relationships with people at companies before you even apply there.

If you are serious about landing your dream job and increasing your salary, you should never apply for a job without a personal referral.

It might take some time to build up a relationship, but getting that personal referral can make it so you are not only a lot more likely to get the job, but also more likely to get a higher offer.

I talk about how I used this technique to land a six-figure job, working from home in “Soft Skills”, so if you are interested in getting more detail on this technique, go check it out.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer – 3 Tips Every SQL Expert Needs to Know to Land the Perfect Job (Part 1 of 3)

I am very fortunate that I know John Sonmez in person. He is one of those individuals who understands the young mind of developers and depth of software development industry. I am a regular follower of his books, videos and ideas. I have personally implemented many of his ideas in my personal life and I have seen dramatic improvement. Earlier this month, I requested him to share his views and suggestions with all of us on this blog. He kindly accepted the request and returned with three amazing blog posts and a plethora of giveaways.

Let us read the John Sonmez in his own words in this first part of a three part series.

You’ve probably invested a lot of time learning about SQL and databases.

That’s great. If you are reading this blog, you are probably the kind of person who really cares about your work and has a passion for what you are doing.

You are already probably ahead of 90% of your peers.


What if I told you that there was another way to get even further ahead—a way that most technical professionals ignore?

Well, there is. In fact, what I am about to teach you in this 3-part series of posts, are some of the soft skills that I used to increase my income by over 500% (yes, that is 5 times—no typo), and live a happier, much more fulfilling life.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough for you. If you hang around for the last post in this 3-part series, I’ve got something extra special for you. I’m going to be giving away How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer.

Most technical professionals think getting a good job is about showing how technically competent you are.

That is exactly what I used to think, so I focused all my efforts on raising my technical skills and learning how to solve hard problems on a whiteboard.

That was before I discovered that the majority of high-paying jobs are given to people who figure out how to get in through the back door—not those who are the most technically competent.

I know it’s difficult to believe.

I had a hard time believing it myself, but many sources—including this NY Times article—are showing that a majority of hires are coming from other sources than the traditional submit-a-resume-and-pass-an-interview process.

So, if you want to land that perfect job, you’ve got to be more than just technically competent.

In my new book, “Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual,” I’ve dedicated a whole section of the book to improving your career, landing your dream job and increasing your income. In the next few posts, I’ll share with you some of my best secrets from the book. (You can check out the first chapter for free here.)

Tip #1: Start and maintain a highly focused blog

Pinal Dave has done an excellent job of this and he is reaping the benefits. Do you think Pinal Dave would ever have to do an interview for a position at a company hiring a SQL expert? I don’t think so. I think most employers would want to hire him on the spot, just because of his excellent reputation—which he built mostly from his blog.

I, myself, have been given job offers—completely bypassing the interview process altogether—because the interviewer had been reading my blog.

The key is to get started and be consistent.

I once interviewed Pinal Dave for a course I was creating on how to market yourself as a software developer and he told me that he woke up every morning and wrote a blog post before he even brushed his teeth.

His dedication to writing every day has allowed him to earn a great income off of this blog and to reach around 2 million technical professionals who read this blog every month.

Whenever I speak at conferences about marketing yourself and soft skills for technical people, I always ask how many people have a blog. Usually about half of the room will raise their hand. But, guess what happens when I ask how many people have posted on their blog weekly, for at least the last year?

Often out of a room of 200-300 developers, there will be just 1 or 2 hands raised.

Want to set yourself apart?

Want to stand out and get noticed and have employers knocking down your door to hire you?

Start a highly focused blog—that means pick a specific topic, like Pinal did with SQLAuthority—and blog at least once a week.

Anyone can do it and it’s much easier than you think. To find out more about how to create a successful blog, either check out my blogging chapter in Soft Skills or you can enroll in this free 3-week email course I created that takes you through the process step-by-step.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Blogging Best Practices – Checklist for Building Successful Blog – Part 6

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Checklist for Building Successful Blog.

I hope everyone has learned a little or a lot with me through this whole course.  Even if you are already a professional blogger, my hope is that everyone could learn something.  I love blogging and the point of this course was to make it accessible to more people – because I believe that it is something everyone would enjoy.

If you’re excited about starting a blog, here is a checklist for things to do to get one started.

  • RSS Feed or Email Subscription
  • Easy Navigation
  • Search Function in Blog
  • Integration with Social Media
  • Easy to Read Design
  • Traffic Analytics Tool
  • Legal Disclosures (Copyright, Trademark)
  • Social Media Integration
  • Intriguing Title
  • Interesting Lead in Story
  • Section (Header Tags) and Subsections
  • Precise Summary and Call to Action
  • Bullet Lists
  • Blog Length between 500-700
  • Inclusion of Image
  • Links to Earlier Relevant Blog Posts
  • Grammar and Spellings
  • Category and Tags

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, or have more questions about a particular topic, try out my course on Pluralsight, where I go into topics in much more depth!

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (

Blogging Best Practices – Frequently Asked Questions – Part 5

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have been following this blog series about starting and maintaining a blog, you might be excited to go start blogging right now.  But if you have a few more questions, let me get them out of the way right now with some Frequently Asked Questions. Here are few of the questions which I discuss over here.

Should I start Blogging?

Of course!  It’s fun, easy (if you love what you do, it will be easy), it is rewarding, and you could even earn money.

What if I get bored?

One of the biggest problems with starting a blog is losing interest after a few weeks, never posting, and slowly your blog disappears into obscurity.  Here are some ways to always feel fresh at blogging: change up your schedule.  If you find yourself getting bored, try writing at different times of the day, or even sitting at a different desk.

Some people burn out because their set their expectations too high.  If you think you’ll be able to post multiple posts every day, and write extra posts so you’ll always have a queue, you’ll probably lose interesting in working so hard and stop altogether.  Set a goal for yourself: one post a day, or one post a week with one extra as buffer.  Make a to-do list and cross off things as you accomplish them – even small victories will feel like big motivators.

How much do I need to spend?

You don’t need to spend any money if you don’t want to!  There are so many free blog hosts that spending any money on a venture you’re not sure you’ll like is a waste.  However, if you feel very passionate about your subject, invest $10 in a domain name so that you’ll have the best head start on internet stardom possible.  If you don’t want to invest any, or if you’re saving your money – spend what you can afford, even if it’s $0.

What do I write?

So you’ve started a blog and now you want to know what to write.  I’m afraid you might have done things a little backward – it is best to choose a topic for your blog, and THEN start the blog.  If it’s too late for that – try not to overthink it.  Write about whatever you want, it’s YOUR blog.  Don’t stress too much about making that first post perfect – you should write about five or ten posts and post them all at once, so no one is going to go back to your first post and think “pffft, what a silly idea!”

He are few of the question which I discuss in depth in the Pluralsight course.

  • How long should it take to write a post?
  • What if I get bored?
  • How much do I need to spend?
  • What do I write?
  • The name I wanted is taken. Now what?
  • Someone is stealing my posts! Help!
  • How long should my posts be?
  • Should I be on a writing schedule?
  • Will I have more readers the more often I post?
  • How can I promote my blog?
  • How many visitors am I getting? Am I popular yet?
  • What is SEO? Should I be worried about it?
  • Can I switch blog hosts? What if I want to switch later?

There are so many more questions out there, I know.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (

Blogging Best Practices – Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette – Part 4

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette.

To have a successful blog, your posts should be interesting, you probably would like to have a large audience, and you want to provide quality content to the subject.  However, to be truly successful, you also ought to follow a few ethical rules, as well – your blog might be popular, but if you are just plagiarizing from a less well-known source, your success is not honestly won, and not truly your own.

Legal Issues

One of the biggest issues that bloggers ought to keep in mind is copyright law.  It can be very easy when blogging to get excited about an article, idea, or photo, and immediately post a glowing review of it to your blog – only to get in trouble when the author or owner stumbles across it.  Shouldn’t they be happy with your free advertisement?  Shouldn’t they appreciate the business you are sending your way?  Unfortunately, discriminating between a blogger who is trying to help and one who is trying to pass off this cool new information as their own can be difficult to determine.  If you want to post something someone else created – text, photos, videos, music – CITE YOUR SOURCES!  Provide links, and ask permission – they may be able to provide a copy of that photo you love, but with their personal watermark.

Right now it might be feeling like posting anything on your blog can be a dangerous proposition.  How can anyone post a picture on their blog without getting sued?  This problem has a flip side – freelance photographers will also have trouble getting their work out there.  That is where Creative Commons stepped in.  It is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing licenses and legal protections to artists’ work – any element, which includes designs, photographs, logos, you name it.  There are six different kinds of licenses, and they protect and restrict in different ways.  There are now hundreds of websites that provide Creative Commons images for free or a small fee, and they do the legal footwork for the bloggers.  Everyone wins!


User privacy is a huge issue.  With the abundance of spam and spammers out there on the internet, all users are rightfully careful about protecting their private information.  Gathering private information about your readers without their knowledge is strictly prohibited, and you could be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Spreading or, worse, selling information given to you willingly – such as a form filled out to become a commenter – without the commenter’s knowledge or permission, is also strictly illegal.  Even if you are gathering e-mail addresses from readers to send out a weekly newsletter, please be sure to provide an opt-in or opt-out box, so that there is no question of whether your readers were spammed by you or received a desired e-mail from you.

Ethics and Etiquette

This is my favorite subject and there are so many to discuss. There are many does and don’ts to do for blogging. Online behavior of any person represents a lot about them. There are other rules to keep in mind while blogging, especially my “grandma rule”. It will be not possible to write about everything which I discuss in the course over here so I suggest you head over to Pluralsight course and read them in detail.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (

Blogging Best Practices – Writing an Interesting Blog – Part 3

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Writing an Interesting Blog.

Getting Started

Is writing an interesting blog so simple that I can just TELL you how to do it right now?  Almost!  I’m sure you started your blog because you had something you felt you had to write about.  But now you’ve created the site and are staring at a blank page that represents all the millions of different directions you can go with this new idea.  Just remember as you write – if you wanted to write about it, there are certainly a few people who want to read it.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Write what you would want to read.  You started this blog because you probably felt that there was something more you could personally add the subject, or that wasn’t being addressed.  There is surely a subject that gets you really hot under the collar (in a good way or a bad way).  This will always make an exciting blog post.  It’s something you wanted to read about and couldn’t find – so write about that!

Create a picture in your mind of who you think is reading your blog – or who you’re like to read your blog.  You can even come up with a cast of characters who you think would be interested.  Each one will be different and have different interests – and then you can write posts to these imaginary readers.  The larger the cast, the more ideas who will be able to generate.

Writing an Interesting Post

Some of the best orators start out with a story, and then link back to the original topic in a unique or interesting way.  This captures the audience’s attention at the very beginning, and then they are along for the whole ride.  Here is how to capture this same magic in your blog posts.

Ask a question at the very beginning.  Here is an example: how can you write the most amazing blog post of all time?  Well, this question certainly is leading the readers to think they are about to find out!  Don’t overuse this technique, it can seem hackneyed and old, but used in the right context it can be very effective.

Here are two tricks of many I discuss in my course.

Start with action – A lone blogger, in front of a flickering computer screen, with an unknown fate – to prevail in the face of writing a blog post, or to crumble under the pressure.  This is obviously a little bit too melodramatic for an average blog post, but you get the idea.

Paint a Picture – I don’t mean literally, of course.  But if you can paint a picture with words: the dark night sky was sprinkled with tiny stars, but I knew I could see dawn on the dusky horizon.  Very soon, my blog post would be due.  Long descriptions may not work for the average technical blog, but there are certainly ways to work them in.

If you are really stuck and are staring at a blank screen because you can’t think of a catchy intro, just start writing and worry about it later.  You can even write your last paragraph, and work backwards from there.  Eventually you will get into the swing of writing and the introduction will come naturally.

Make Your Blog Scannable

A scannable blog is a readable blog.  It does not mean that readers will stop by, scan for 15 seconds and leave – it means that readers will stop by, scan for 15 seconds, easily find a topic of interest, and stay – maybe becoming permanent readers!  You have to remember – people tend to read blogs in-between doing other things.  Blogs have to be quick and easy to read so that they can get back to work, minding their children, or cooking dinner.  Having an easily scannable blog will make your blog more likely to become a popular stopping place for readers.  So what makes a blog scannable? Well, that is the secret I talk about in my course.

In my course on Pluralsight, I also include information about writing a post from beginning to end, and overcoming the biggest of all bloggers fears: blogger’s block.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (

Blogging Best Practices – Getting Started with Blogging – Part 2

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Getting Started with Blogging.

Choosing a Blog Host

If you’ve recently decided to start blogging, the very first thing you have to decide on is which hosting service to use.  There are many blog hosts: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, to name just a few.  With so many options, how can you choose?

There are a few criteria to keep in mind when choosing a blog host. What is the purpose of this blog?  If it a personal website, you don’t need anything too technical or one that is uniquely designed for you.  However, if you are starting a blog for a business, you will want to make your blog look unique and stand out from the crowd – and you don’t want to run into trademark issues later.

Customizability and technical abilities are also something to think about.  If you want your blog to have the perfect shade of blue and a special font, you will want a blog host with those options – but if you don’t feel comfortable coding in HTML, make sure your blog host takes care of those technical details for you!  Your budget will play into these considerations.  Many blog hosts are completely free – but these are often the kind of “cookie cutter” blogs that all look identical.  If you want something tailored to you, you can expect a monthly fee.

Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is no easy task.  Some people might say its the hardest part of starting a blog or website (and I do not recommend thinking up a name and then choosing what to blog about).  However, if the millions upon billions of websites already on the internet are any indication, you will be able to think of a domain name.  Here are some general rules to stick with:

Use keywords.  Search engines use keywords to find your site and bring it up during searches.  These keywords are generally found in the content of your site – but these search programs check your domain name, too!  Use a “.com” address at all costs.  If your only option with a certain name is to choose .net or .biz, scrap the name and start over.  These suffixes scream “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Make it easy for your readers to find you again – make your domain name obvious.  It should be easy to spell, because 90% of individuals are terrible spellers, and avoid unnecessary additions at all costs.  These additions include “z” instead of “s”, hyphens ( is terrible!), numbers instead of letters (especially the letter 0, which is easily confused with “o”), and slang or purposely misspelled words.

Design Elements

Lets talk about the real details of blog design.

As I mentioned, a dark background and light font almost never looks good.  Start off with basic colors at first, and then branch out.  A good rule of thumb is that your blog should have no more than three colors, and they should blend well together.  A white background, black text, and a bright color for headlines, titles, etc will look very nice and can easily be customized down the road.

Be just as careful when choosing a font.  When you’re designing your blog, the thought of using Times New Roman or Arial might seem so boring you just want to scream.  But those fonts are universal for a reason – they are easy to read.  If your font is so unique that it is distracting, your content is not what people will remember.  Unless you are writing a blog about funny fonts, stick with something simple.

Be sure to leave a decent amount of space between posts, or add a divider between posts so that readers won’t get confused.  This kind of ritual will actually make readers feel more comfortable – it is a steady, comforting presence.  Menus and links will help keep your blog organized and navigable.  They can reassure readers that your blog has a strong history of posts, and is not just another newcomer that will be here today but gone tomorrow.

Well, there are few more interesting tips as well, which I have discussed in depth in my Pluralsight Course.

Comments – Yea or Nay?

Most blog hosts allow commenting on individual posts or the blog as a whole.  Some will also provide the option to allow comments at all.  If you have ever stumbled into a nasty blog fight, it might give you pause to allow this kind of risk on your own blog, but there are so many benefits to allowing comments.  First of all, it allows you to build a community of like-minded individuals.  Commenters will interact with your material as well as each other.

Of course, the downside of comments is the spam.  It can be mean commenters, people trying to stir up trouble, or just your average spammer trying to get their links clicked.  Because spam is such a widespread problem, any blog host that allows comments will also have a way to deal with the spam.  It can mean screening all comments, or simply keeping on top of comments and deleting the spam.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (