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 (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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.

But…

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 (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – Technology and Online Learning – Personal Technology Tip

This is the fourth post in my series about Personal Technology Tips and Tricks, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.  But at first I was conflicted.   Is online learning really a personal tip?  Is it really a trick that no one knows?  However, I have decided to stick with my original idea because online learning is everywhere.  It’s a trick that we can’t – and shouldn’t – overlook.  Here are ten of my ideas about how we should be taking advantage of online learning.

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1) Get ahead in the work place.  We all know that a good way to become better at your job, and to become more competitive for promotions and raises.  Many people overlook online learning as a way to get job training, though, thinking it is a path for people still seeking their high school or college diplomas.  But take a look at what companies like Pluralsight offer, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

2) Flexibility.  Some of us remember the heady days of college with nostalgia, others remember it with loathing.  A lot of bad memories come from remembering the strict scheduling and deadlines of college.  But with online learning, the classes fit into your free time – you don’t have to schedule your life around classes.  Even better, there are usually no homework or test deadlines, only one final deadline where all work must be completed.  This allows students to work at their own pace – my next point.

3) Learn at your own pace.  One thing traditional classes suffer from is that they are highly structured.  If you work more quickly than the rest of the class, or especially if you work more slowly, traditional classes do not work for you.  Online courses let you move as quickly or as slowly as you find necessary.

4) Fill gaps in your knowledge.  I’m sure I am not the only one who has thought to myself “I would love to take a course on X, Y, or Z.”  The problem is that it can be very hard to find the perfect class that teaches exactly what you’re interested in, at a time and a price that’s right.  But online courses are far easier to tailor exactly to your tastes.

5) Fits into your schedule.  Even harder to find than a class you’re interested in is one that fits into your schedule.  If you hold down a job – even a part time job – you know it’s next to impossible to find class times that work for you.  Online classes can be taken anytime, anywhere.  On your lunch break, in your car, or in your pajamas at the end of the day.

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6) Student centered.  Online learning has to stay competitive.  There are hundreds, even thousands of options for students, and every provider has to find a way to lure in students and provide them with a good education.  The best kind of online classes know that they need to provide great classes, flexible scheduling, and high quality to attract students – and the student benefit from this kind of attention.

7) You can save money.  The average cost for a college diploma in the US is over $20,000.  I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of money I just have lying around for a rainy day.  Sometimes I think I’d love to go back to school, but not for that price tag.  Online courses are much, much more affordable.  And even better, you can pick and choose what courses you’d like to take, and avoid all the “electives” in college.

8) Get access to the best minds in the business.  One of the perks of being the best in your field is that you are one person who knows the most about something.  If students are lucky, you will choose to share that knowledge with them on a college campus.  For the hundreds of other students who don’t live in your area and don’t attend your school, they are out of luck.  But luckily for them, more and more online courses is attracting the best minds in the business, and if you enroll online, you can take advantage of these minds, too.

9) Save your time.  Getting a four year degree is a great decision, and I encourage everyone to pursue their Bachelor’s – and beyond.  But if you have already tried to go to school, or already have a degree but are thinking of switching fields, four years of your life is a long time to go back and redo things.  Getting your online degree will save you time by allowing you to work at your own pace, set your own schedule, and take only the classes you’re interested in.

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10) Variety of degrees and programs.  If you’re not sure what you’re interested in, or if you only need a few classes here and there to finish a program, online classes are perfect for you.  You can pick and choose what you’d like, and sample a wide variety without spending too much money.

I hope I’ve outlined for everyone just a few ways that they could benefit from online learning.  If you’re still unconvinced, just check out a few of my other articles that expand more on these topics.

Here are the blog posts relevent to developer trainings:

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Developer Training Resources and Summary Roundup

It is always pleasure for any author when other renowned authors in the industry write about you. Earlier I wrote a five part blog series on Developer Training and I have received a phenomenal response to the series. I have received plenty of comments, questions and feedback. I thought it would be nice to sum up the whole series as well answer a few of the questions received.

Quick Recap

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1

In this part we discussed the importance of training in the real world. The most important and valuable resource any company is its employee. Employees who have been well-trained will be better at their jobs and produce a better product.  An employee who is well trained obviously knows more about their job and all the technical aspects. I have a very high opinion about training employees and it is the most important task.

Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2

In this part we discussed the most crucial components of training. Often employees are expecting the company to pay for their training and the company expresses no interest in training the employee. Quite often training expenses are the real issue for both the employee and employer. There are companies that pay for 100% of the expenses and there are employees who opt for training on their own expense during their personal time. Training is often looked at as vacation by employee and employers and we need to change this mind-set. One of the ways is to report back the learning to your manager and implement newly learned knowledge in day-to-day work.

Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3

This part was the most difficult to write as I tried to address a few difficult questions and answers. Training is such a sensitive issue that many developers when not receiving chance for training think about leaving the organization. The manager often feels pressure to accommodate every single employee for training even though his training budget is limited. It is indeed the responsibility of the developer to get maximum advantage from the training. Training immediately helps organizations but stays as a part of an employee’s knowledge forever.

Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4

In this part I tried to explore a few methods and options for training. The generic feedback I received on this blog post was short and I should have explored each of the subject of the training in details. I believe there are two big buckets of training 1) Instructor Lead Training and 2) Self Lead Training. The common element between both the methods is “learning material”. Learning material can be of any format – videos, books, paper notes or just a plain black board. Instructor-led training is a very effective mode but not possible every single time. During the course of the developer’s career, one has to learn lots of new technology and it is almost impossible to have a quality trainer available on that subject at that time. Books are most effective and proven methods, however, it always helps if someone explains the concepts of the book with a demonstration. In recent times I have started to believe in online trainings which leads to a hybrid experience. Online trainings take the best part of the books and the best part of the instructor-led training and gives effective training in a matter of hours.

Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

In this part, I shared what I was continuously thinking about developer training. There is no better teacher than oneself. There is no better motivation than a personal desire to learn new technology. Honestly there is nothing more personal learning. That “change is the only constant” and “adapt & overcome” are the essential lessons of life. One cannot stop the learning and resist the change. In the IT industry “ego of knowing all” and the “resistance to change” are the most challenging issues. Once someone overcomes them, life is much easier. I believe that proper and appropriate high quality training can help to address the burning issues.

Opinion of Friends

I invited a few of my friends to express their opinion about developer training and here are their opinions. I am listing them here in the order of the blog post publishing date.

Nakul Vachhrajani – Developer Trainings-Importance, Benefits, Tips and follow-up

Nakul’s sums of many of the concepts which are complementary to my blog posts. Nakul addresses the burning question of developer training with different angles. I am personally very impressed by his following statement – “Being skilled does not mean having just a stack of certifications, but it also means having an understanding about the internals of the products that you are working on – and using that knowledge to improve the efficiency & productivity at the workplace in turn resulting in better products, better consulting abilities and a happier self.” Nakul also suggests the online training options of Pluralsight.

Vinod Kumar – Training–a necessity or bonus

Vinod Kumar comes up with excellent follow up on developer training. Vinod is known for his inspirational writing about SQL Server. Vinod starts with a story of a student who is extremely eager to learn the wisdom of life from a monk but the monk does not accept him as a disciple for a long time. The conversation between student and monk is indeed an essence of all learning. We all want to learn quickly and be successful but the most important thing in life is to have the right attitude towards learning and more so towards life. The blog post end with a very important thought about how to avoid the famous excuse – “I don’t have enough time.”

Ritesh Shah – Training – useful or useless?

Ritesh brings up very important concept related to training. Ritesh in his meticulous style explains why training is an important and lifelong process. Training must not stop at any age but should continue forever. The moment training stops, progress stops along with.

Paras Doshi – Professional Development Resource

Paras is known for his to–the-point writing, and has summarized the five part series very precisely. He read the five part series and created a digest summary of the blog post. If you are in a rush and have no time to read my five series – I suggest you read his blog post.

Training Resources

I am often asked what the best resources for learning new technology are. This is the most difficult question EVER. There are plenty of good training resources available. When it is about training our needs are different, our preference of learning is different and we all have an opinion. Additionally, we all are located in different geographic locations worldwide and there is no way one solution will fit all. However, let me list a few of the training resources which I have built so far and you can consume them if you find it relevant to your need.

SQL Server Books

SQL Server Video Tutorials

SQL in Sixty Seconds

Trust me worldwide web is very big and there are plenty of high quality learning materials available worldwide – trainer-led as well online. I suggest you explore various options and make the best choice for yourself. Remember, training is your personal journey and it should never stop.

Are you ready?

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5


We have now reached the end of our series about developer training.  I hope you have come away thinking that training is the best way to advance in your company and that you are looking for training opportunities right now.  If you’re still not convinced here are a few things to keep in mind:

  •  Training benefits the employer and the employee.
  • A well trained employee is a happy employee, and a happy employee is more efficient and productive.
  • Training an employee might be expensive, but it is less expensive than hiring a new person.

Whether you are looking at him from the employee’s or the company’s point of view, there are always advantages to training.

A Broader View

This series is definitely written for Developer Training but it is not limited to developers only. There are IT Pro, System Admins, DBAs as well many other technology professionals; this article series is for all professionals in the world. The concepts and take away will remain common across all the platform and regardless of technology affiliation.

Pass the Knowledge

If I have to pick one advise which is extremely important related to training, I will pick – pass the knowledge. Once you have decided in favor of training, there is more to it than simply showing up and staying awake.  It is always a good idea to take notes – at the very least it will help you stay awake, but they will often serve as a good way to remember your training when you go back to work.  You can also use them to pass your new knowledge on to fellow employees, which can be very fun and rewarding.

Right Place, Right Time and Right Training

There are so many ways to get developer training.  In-person and on the job training is easy to come by and is the most usual type of training, but don’t overlook my favorite type of training: On Demand.  Being able to learn at your own pace, own place and on your own time will make training a realistic goal for almost every employee.

I can think of nothing more important in life than furthering your education.  Especially when you work in a field that is constantly changing – like technology.  Whether you like it or not, training is incredibly important.  That is why I feel it is so important to receive training.  And because there are so many different training formats – live, online, through books, through people – I am certain that we all can find a way to be trained that best suits our goals and personalities.

The Teacher Within

If you think of anyone who is a master of the technology field or an incredibly successful developer (the obvious examples that spring to mind are Steve Jobs or Bill Gates), you will also find a teacher.  Both these individuals spent their lives developing better technology, but also educating other developers and the public about how to use these technologies and how it can change your life for the better.  I think that we all should strive to be like these wonderful teachers.  We might not be able to change the world, but we can certainly change a few lives around us.

Even if we never turn into trainers ourselves , being trained as a student can be a good exercise.  We learn a lot and become better employees – and it would not be a stretch to say that this makes us better individuals, as well.

Final Say

I think learning and growing in your chosen field is not only a good idea, career-wise, but can be fun, too!  I for one never feel more alive than when I am learning about something I am really passionate about.  I think my job title – technology evangelist – explains how enthusiastic I am about this subject.  But please don’t think that I am thinking of this as someone who wants to train and educate others (although this is also one of my passions).  I am also a passionate student.  I enjoy learning new things and am always on the lookout for new ways to learn and new people to learn from.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Various Options for Maximum Benefit – Part 4

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5


If you have been reading this series, by now you are aware of all the pros and cons that can come along with training.  We’ve asked and answered hard questions, and investigated them “whys” and “hows” of training.  Now it is time to talk about all the different kinds of training that are out there!

On Job Training

The most common type of training is on the job training.  Everyone receives this kind of education – even experts who come in to consult have to be taught where the printer, pens, and copy machines are.  If you are thinking about more concrete topics, though, on the job training can be some of the easiest to come across.  Picture this: someone in the company whom you really admire is hard at work on a project.  You come up to them and ask to help them out – if they are a busy developer, the odds are that they will say “yes, please!”   If you phrase your question as an offer of help, you can receive training without ever putting someone in the awkward position of acting as a mentor.  However, some people may want the task of being a mentor.  It can never hurt to ask.  Most people will be more than willing to pass their knowledge along.

Extreme Programming

If your company and coworkers are willing, you can even investigate Extreme Programming.  This is a type of programming that allows small teams to quickly develop code and products that are released with almost immediate user feedback.  You can find more information at http://www.extremeprogramming.org/.  If this is something your company could use, suggest it to your supervisor.  Even if they say no, it will make it clear that you are a go-getter who is interested in new and exciting projects.  If the answer is yes, then you have the opportunity to get some of the best on the job training around.

In Person Training

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When you say the word “training,” most people’s minds go back to the classroom, an image they are familiar with.  While training doesn’t always have to be in a traditional setting, because it is so familiar it can also be the most valuable type of training.  There are many ways to get training through a live instructor.  Some companies may be willing to send a representative to you, where employees will get training, sometimes food and coffee, and a live instructor who can answer questions immediately.  Sometimes these trainers are also able to do consultations at the same time, which can invaluable to a company.  If you are the one to asks your supervisor for a training session that can also be turned into a consultation, you may stick in their minds as an incredibly dedicated employee.  If you can’t find a representative, local colleges can also be a good resource for free or cheap classes – or they may have representatives coming who are willing to take on a few more students.

Benefits of On Demand Developer Training

Of course, you can often get the best of all these types of training with online or On Demand training.  You can get the benefit of a live instructor who is willing to answer questions (although in this case, usually through e-mail or other online venues), there are often real-world examples to follow along – like on the job training – and best of all you can learn whenever you have the time or need.  Did a problem with your server come up at midnight when all your supervisors are safe at home and probably in bed?  No problem!  On Demand training is especially useful if you need to slow down, pause, or rewind a training session.  Not even a real-life instructor can do that!

When I was writing this blog post, I felt that each of the subject, which I have covered can be blog posts of itself. However, I wanted to keep the the blog post concise and so touch based on three major training aspects 1) On Job Training 2) In Person Training and 3) Online training. Here is the question for you – is there any other kind of training methods available, which are effective and one should consider it? If yes, what are those, I may write a follow up blog post on the same subject next week.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5


Congratulations!  You are now a fully trained developer!  You spent hours in a classroom, watching webinars, and reading materials.  You are now more educated and more prepared than ever before.  Now what?

Stay or Quit

The simple answer is that you now have two options – stay where you are or move on to a new job.  Even though you might now be smarter than you have ever felt before, this can still be a tough decision to make.  You feel extra trained and ready for a promotion or a raise, but you and your employer might not see eye to eye on this issue.  The logical conclusion is to go on a job hunt, but that might not be the most ethical thing to do.

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Manager’s Perspective

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Try to see the issue from your manager’s perspective.  You feel that you have just spent a lot of time and energy getting trained, and you should be rewarded.  But they have invested their time and energy in you.  They might see the training as a way to help you complete the goals they require from you, or as a way to help you complete tasks that will ultimately end in a reward or promotion.

Moral Compass

As in most cases, honesty is the best policy.  Be open with your manager about your expectations, and ask them to explain their goals.  When there is open and honest communication, everyone can walk away happy.  If you’re unable to discuss with your manager for one reason or another, just try to keep the company policy in mind and follow your own moral compass.  If all else fails, and your company is unwilling to make allowances for your new value, offer to pay the company back for the training before moving on your way.

Whether you stay at your old job or move on to a new one, you are still faced with the question of what you’re going to do with all your new knowledge.  If you feel comfortable, offer to train others around you who are interested in the same subject.  This can look very good on your resume, and if you are working in a team environment it is sure to help you in the long run!

What Next?

You can even offer to train other trainers at the company – managers, those above you, or even report back to your original trainer about how your education is helping you in the work place.  Obviously this should be completely voluntary on the trainer’s part.  Taking advice from a “newbie” may not be their favorite idea, but it could also show the company that you are open to expanding your horizons and being helpful to everyone around you.

Last in Line for Opportunity

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At this time, let us address a subject related to training and what to do with it – what if you are always overlooked for training?  This can as thorny a problem as receiving training in the first place.  The best advice is to let your supervisors know that you are always open to training and very interested in certain topics.  If you are consistently passed over, be patient.  Your turn will probably come, but the company as a whole has to focus on other problems at the moment.  If you feel that there are more personal issues at play, be sure to bring this up with your supervisor in a calm and professional manager so that everything can be worked out best for both parties.

You, Yourself and Your Future!

If all else fails, offer to pay for training yourself.  Perhaps money problems are at the root of being passed over.  Even if there are other reasons, offering to pay your own way shows your dedication and could work out well for you in the long run.  Always remember – in life you have to go out and make your own way, you cannot always sit and wait for things to land in your lap.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)