Brian David Hall is an expert in conversion optimization. He’s a software engineer by training, runs his own company, and is the host of the SaaS Experiments Podcast, where he talks to other experts in growth marketing. We talked about the unusual tech jobs he’s had that helped him learn other skills beyond coding.

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You can use your skills in other areas like Marketing and Sales to transition to a tech job instead of throwing away your current expertise. Learning how to code on top of your existing skills will give you superpowers!

If you want to transition into a tech job, you can start by solving problems for your current company. By doing this, you’ll build a portfolio, get real-world experience, stand out from other candidates that only know how to code but have no experience in other areas.

You can also look for a “weird tech job”, which is a job that involves coding but is not a developer role at a tech company.

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Show Notes


[00:01:09] Thiago Araujo: This whole conversation started when you mentioned that there are tons of developer jobs out there beyond being a software engineer at a tech company, and you called them “weird developer jobs”. That’s why you asked me to come on the podcast and talk about that. I thought it was a pretty interesting concept. So, can you tell me more about what you consider a weird developer job?

[00:01:32] Brian Hall: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I draw on my own experience from this. I think that I’ve had weird developer jobs, but just to throw some examples around, I was looking into some niches today and turns out that one of the largest funeral and cremation services companies in the country is hiring a full-time software engineer.

They’re looking for .Net, C#, AWS. If anybody wants the link, let me know. But that’s an example of, you know, it’s not a BigCo tech job, but it’s a full time software engineering position in an unlikely industry, I guess. And so if you just multiply that out over the entire economy, there’s all kinds of jobs out there that are either developer jobs or can require a developer skillset that aren’t strictly tech company jobs. Think about things like: there’s 6,000 bike shops across the United States. Somebody building their point-of-sale software, inventory management, somebody is building their websites. And so just another example of something that isn’t a SaaS, isn’t a tech company, but they need tech and there’s jobs there too.

[00:02:47] Thiago Araujo: Maybe it sounds a little morbid, but I guess you don’t have to look at corpses or anything. You just have to build their website…

[00:02:53] Brian Hall: I don’t know what they’re doing. And the job posting didn’t say much, but I guess maybe they’re building apps for collaboration or communication across different branches of… I don’t know. It sounds kind of fun to find out.

[00:03:07] Thiago Araujo: I guess it makes sense because you have to manage inventory. You have to do stuff, right? It’s a normal business as any other.

[00:03:15] Brian Hall: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:03:16] Thiago Araujo: What kinds of odd jobs did you have as a developer in the past?

[00:03:20] Brian Hall: These are my weird developer jobs or so-called weird developer jobs. The first job that I got that involved writing code of any sort was with the USDA and it was a research assistant position. I basically sat at a terminal all day and we had this high-performance compute cluster. And so there’s a little bit of sysadmin type work in there, and then we’re doing genomics, building custom tools to process genomic data. It was really just kind of a “sit there at the computer and know how to write code” type of role. What we were working on depended on the current funding, the current research project, the direction the department was going. That was where I started: not really a traditional developer job, but I wrote code.

We built software and we processed data there. From there, I moved on and I got this remote job working at an agency. This agency was, I guess, technically a marketing agency and specifically website, A/B testing and optimization, which is still the stuff that I do today. But this was just an A/B test engineer job.

My whole job, 40 hours a week, was to sit there and write JavaScript that runs on top of existing websites to make changes to the websites and track visitor behavior. After you’ve made those changes, to try to make the websites make more money. That’s kind of a weird one because I wasn’t building anything from scratch.

I was building always on top of existing properties and it was really fast-paced, you write code that runs live on the biggest websites that you can name. But it only runs for a couple of weeks and then it goes away. That’s another kind of weird developer job and there’s actually a ton of jobs like that.

There are entire agencies who only do A/B test engineering. Again, there’s weird stuff out there and maybe more of it than you might think. One more job that I had was at a startup, which was kind of in this website optimization space. That job was a Solutions Engineer.

I don’t know officially what a Solutions Engineer means, but in this case, it again was kind of a catch-all where there’s a little bit of training the team, and there’s a little bit of explaining things to clients, and there’s a little bit of prototyping for the sales process. Again, it’s kind of like “sitting in this chair and know how to write code and we’ll throw stuff at you” and that’s the job. I guess I’ve had a few that were kind of like that.

[00:05:46] Thiago Araujo: Did you need a background in biology or DNA or something or did you just learn everything you needed from the job itself?

[00:05:56] Brian Hall: I was lucky enough to learn everything I needed on the job. It’s strange. I’m sure the more you know, the more effective you are, but at some point all that genomic data, it gets broken down into text files, just plain text. The number of tricks and things you need to know to process those, it’s actually fairly limited.

It wasn’t that complicated. So really more than anything, they wanted somebody that kind of understood numbers and could SSH into a Linux machine. And that was it. Everything else was just kind of picked up along the way.

[00:06:31] Thiago Araujo: Do you think that because you had the ability to code, it was easier for you to get this job, or do you think that someone that knows a little bit of biology or genomics or whatever would be able to pick this job and learn how to code? Would it work for someone that doesn’t know how to code already?

[00:06:51] Brian Hall: Yeah. I think you could come at it either way. The field here is bioinformatics, right? That’s the fancy word for what I was doing, even though again, sometimes it was just copying files across servers. If you know bioinformatics and you don’t know how to code lots and lots of people, I’d say most of the software that’s used in that field is made by people, grad students, scientific researchers who just figured it out.

They just started writing Python or Perl and they wrote scripts and the scripts grew into almost app-sized codebases. They used it to process their data and that’s how we learn stuff about genomes. Teach yourself enough code to leverage your bioinformatics understanding, that’s one path. And then, in my case, it kind of comes down to project funding. They had enough budget to bring somebody in just to wrangle the code for a time. That’s how I came in and they had to give me a crash course in the actual science behind it.

[00:07:47] Thiago Araujo: At my university, they had lots of research projects from completely different areas and they always needed someone that knew how to code either someone that knows a little bit of database design or knows how to write a little script or something like that. Seems always useful to know a little bit of coding and then you can just apply it to different stuff. It’s not that hard to find a job outside of a tech focused company and you can always leverage some of your other skills to help people in that field.

[00:08:21] Brian Hall: Yeah, absolutely. There’s the traditional track where you’re going for a big tech company and your job title is going to be Software Engineer with a number after it. That’s a track and that’s a life and nothing wrong with that. But at the intersection of specific problem spaces or industries or niches, And just the ability to write even some code. There’s all kinds of valuable work that needs to get done. It’s a little bit trickier to find or seek out, I guess, but there’s so much of it out there.

[00:08:52] Thiago Araujo: You were telling me about this course that you are starting now where you’re teaching Javascript to marketers. Can you tell me about that?

[00:09:01] Brian Hall: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And this is just something brand new that popped up. I literally just asked on social if any marketers wanted to learn Javascript and a bunch of them did. So I’m kind of putting together a curriculum as we go, but it’s this exact idea, actually, where you’re not a developer, you’re not going to be a developer anytime soon, but if you can learn to get things done with code, that’s really all that matters and that hugely amplifies what you can get done at work. Marketers work with data. They work with websites, they work with automatable API-friendly tools like Google ads. And if they can learn to write just a little code, then they can get a lot done.

I guess, you know, they can break things majorly too. So we’ll try to steer them away from that. But this idea of intersecting code with literally anything else, right? With marketing, with funeral homes, with bike shops, with bioinformatics, there’s tons of opportunity there.

[00:10:02] Thiago Araujo: Yeah. When you’re a marketer, you always have some crazy google sheets lying around and you also need to automate your email, send a bunch of outbound emails and all of that. If you know a little bit about coding, it just helps, right? So I used to work at this company, they are specialized in outbound email and the sales people, they always needed some help. They always needed some way to automate templates on their emails, or they would always use different kinds of plugins for Chrome and all of that. And they have to patch some solution to their needs, but if you know how to code, you can just build it, you know?

[00:10:40] Brian Hall: Exactly. And I think, I assume that’s what was in people’s minds when they raised their hands and said: “yeah, let’s do that. I want to learn that”. Is just this idea of, you know, if you don’t know how to code, you just kind of hit a wall. You’re trying to get something done and you’re making progress. And then there comes a point where you need someone who can code to move it along. And so if you think of it from their perspective, right? It’s like you write a ticket, you submit the ticket, maybe you buy pizza for the devs to try to get the ticket addressed sooner. You wait, maybe you don’t get back what you expected, so that to go around that and just do your own stuff, I think is really appealing.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a developer or have it in your job title, just to be able to solve problems with code is a thing that people want, understandably.

[00:11:28] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, for sure. You also said that you are mentoring some more junior developers, and I guess they want to get a job as a software engineer or something similar. What kind of things are they trying to do in order to get into the tech industry? I see a lot of folks trying to follow the “cracking the code interview” path. It’s so boring, you know?

If you have some other skills, if you have expertise in other stuff, but your plan is to get a developer job, you shouldn’t just let all of that knowledge go to waste, right? You should just use it and maybe apply to a slightly different job and maybe get your first job as something slightly different, which might be easier for you. And you don’t have to do a bunch of whiteboard interviews and things like that.

[00:12:17] Brian Hall: I’ve never done a whiteboard interview, actually. And this works for me, you know? I can’t dictate what anybody should do. If it’s your dream to work for a big name tech company, I’m definitely not coming on this podcast to tell you you’re wrong or you shouldn’t or anything like that.

But I think it’s worth thinking about the whole realm of possibilities that you could pursue. There’s kind of two worlds where there is the big name tech company that hires tons of developers, and they have this fully fleshed out hiring process. It’s pretty obscure. There’s an algorithmic component to it.

There’s all these people involved, recruiters… You might be talking to multiple recruiters at the same time. There’s hiring managers. There’s a whole HR department. There’s people that get just randomly conscripted and it’s like, “Hey, come sit in on this interview.” All this stuff goes into the hiring process. You can work on your skills and your whiteboarding comfort, and you can just play the numbers and apply and apply. And that’s how I think a lot of people get in on their third round they get the job. So there’s that world, right? And I think there’s a lot of emphasis on that because it’s huge.

Because it also supports a little, “mini-industry.” - maybe not so mini - of test preparation , and bootcamps and stuff like that, where the idea is: “I’m going to take this test, pass this test, show my skills, apply for jobs, get a job.” So there’s that route. The other route, the way people get jobs tends to be way less formal, more through your network, or it can be through your public presence.

If you’re active on social media and you talk about code, people will just come and scoop up developers from Twitter. It happens all the time. Just because they, they need somebody. And so you think about a small business or a startup and the needs that they have… They don’t have a full HR department and an elaborate hiring process.

They just have stuff that needs to get done and that they know somebody who can code can do this stuff. For some folks, this is a big advantage. You might have a big advantage here because, as you mentioned, you’ve got this domain expertise, and so that sets you apart, and then you will know people, or you will know the publications, or the lingo of the industry.

And so you can get a job through friends, through relationships and through showing your work in public without having to go through the whole process.

[00:14:42] Thiago Araujo: Yeah. I have this friend who started out as a sales person, and then he started managing people and then he decided he wanted to code. And he learn how to code. And then now he’s building like dashboards and a bunch of cool stuff, but he didn’t start out as a software engineer. I think he’s better than many of the engineers I know because he deeply cares about people. Because he used to work with people all the time. So he was always trying to help them. And then he learned how to code just so he could be more effective at helping them. People should use those skills, you shouldn’t just focus on coding.

At the end of the day, we write code to help people. The solutions we create, they’re supposed to help people. It’s not just some abstract thing that we build that no one cares about. In some places it is, but… you want to be helping people.

[00:15:41] Brian Hall: Yeah. No, absolutely. And I think, I mean, if you’re listening and you have expertise or experience in something other than writing code, absolutely. Be thinking of that as a huge advantage and something that can steer you toward a specific role like that. And yeah, sales background means you kind of have to justify the work you do.

You’re used to measuring the work you do and tying what you do to revenue. And so that mindset, when you bring it to coding, I’m sure that he doesn’t waste a lot of lines of code because he has this idea of focus on the bottom line of the business. That’s the kind of skillset that, again, a lot of small business owners, startup founders, would love to find the intersection of somebody who understands the sales process and can code. That sounds like gold.

[00:16:31] Thiago Araujo: For people that are developers like myself… I’m a developer, but I’m always trying to build something or make some money or do something on the side, you know? I started learning sales because I need to, right? If you run a business, you need to know about sales and marketing and SEO and all of that. It’s a reality. You got to know other stuff beyond coding. I don’t know, but if you’re a very experienced engineer, we tend to build too much, you know, we write too much code and we don’t focus enough on marketing, which I learned that it’s just so important.

You can’t sell anything if you don’t have people coming in. You can’t just be building code and writing code, you also have to do sales and marketing and all of that. If you want to have a business, you’re going to have to learn that. If you just want to be the senior engineer architect or whatever, maybe you don’t need to learn any of that. But I think it just helps you in the long run.

[00:17:28] Brian Hall: Yeah, absolutely. I talked about the one world where it’s large tech company roles, and then there’s the other world where it’s smaller companies with an informal, hiring process. And then I guess if you stretch to the end of that spectrum , you talk about freelancing and running your own business and being kind of a developer for hire or building and selling your own applications. And absolutely, if that’s the route you go, congrats, you just became a sales person, whether you wanted to or not. Same idea, right? As a developer, gaining some domain knowledge or skill sets from other areas of the business, it’s really valuable. And then if you already have those and you layer development skills on top of that, again, really valuable.

[00:18:12] Thiago Araujo: When you tell your students/mentees to take a non-traditional dev job, how do they react?

[00:18:21] Brian Hall: Good question I’ll stop short of telling anybody that they should, I guess, because I don’t know. I mean, there’s plenty of benefits to working for a big tech company, especially if you do it early in your career and you have that on your resume, it depends on your goals, but I think mostly people are at least amenable to the idea.

Because, in fact, it sometimes means that we’re talking about somebody who is looking for their first role in tech, right? Has had other jobs, but has not been paid to code. When you stop thinking about it as in “I need Amazon to hire me so I can be a developer” and you start thinking, “I want to get paid to write code”, in a lot of cases, there’s an opportunity, even at your current job. It’s not something you’re gonna stick with forever, but it’s a great way to start to kind of swap out the job title that you currently have in your future resume. Instead of saying you do whatever you do, if you can solve a problem at your job with code - congrats, you’re a developer, you’re being paid to write code, and that’s how you get your start. Most people I talked to, surprisingly many actually, work at a place where they can solve a problem with their coding skills right in place.

[00:19:35] Thiago Araujo: When you observe problems, you know, you work at a company, there’s always something, there’s always a problem. There’s always an inefficient process that you can maybe automate. So you just gotta be alert, trying to help and see if you can figure something out.

[00:19:54] Brian Hall: Yeah, for sure. There’s a limit to how much you can learn going through certifications and trainings and taking online courses and things get messier. As we all know, when you start solving actual problems in context, in a business or whatever. Writing even just a little utility script that helps you at your job at a warehouse, that’s huge.

That’s huge. And that’s more than a lot of people have done. Including a lot of the people filling out job applications alongside you, if you’re still going for a big tech job. The idea that you don’t need permission in a way, or you barely need permission to start coding and solving real problems is just something to consider, no matter what track you think you’re on.

[00:20:35] Thiago Araujo: Some of my mentees - I mentor some developers as well. They’re always, I wouldn’t say all of them, but most of them, they come and talk to me, and they say say: “Oh, I’m reading this book about Object-oriented programming and trying to read ‘cracking the coding interview’, but it’s too hard… so, I’m just learning algorithms and all of that.” Usually I tell them: “Hey, maybe build something, you know? Try to build something, build something that helps you or helps someone you know”, and I think it’s just a better way to learn because you’re going to learn the skills that are really useful, because… you’re going to get stuck. And then you’re going to try to figure something out, but at least you’re building something and you’re seeing the results compared to the other way where you just sit around reading a book and just practicing kind of simple problems. In a way, it’s okay. You can do that. But I think, at least for me, it gets boring pretty quickly. You’re not building anything, you’re just reading… I think it’s a better way. Just build something that helps someone and you’re just going to get inspired by that.

[00:21:47] Brian Hall: Yeah, build something unglamorous too, right? You get to work on these really esoteric, algorithmic problems when you’re doing this theoretical stuff. There’s some comfort in keeping it theoretical and keeping it almost academic, and you can see that you’re making progress and it’s like, you’re waiting for this magical moment when you suddenly know enough to call yourself a developer. But I don’t know. I don’t think that moment ever really comes and the closest you can get to it is reaching a point where you realize, wow, I built stuff that people use. So I agree. To build something, something simple, something kind of stupid or boring is way better than doing even the most advanced chapter of a training book.

[00:22:31] Thiago Araujo: People have this wrong conception about software engineering. Stuff is messy, you know? If you go around and you look at an application that is being used by a bunch of people, it’s going to be very messy. The code is going to be a mess, and it’s okay. It’s because you need chat features. You need to be refactoring and cleaning things up, but it’s always kind of messy. The most used applications out there, they’re just like these massive ancient applications written in crazy languages from the eighties.

And it’s just crazy code. I think you got to get used to the messiness of the reality of the engineering practice, because it’s not, it’s not clean at all. There’s a bunch of bugs everywhere. So you gotta start building stuff and see how messy it gets really quickly when people start using it.

[00:23:25] Brian Hall: Yeah, no, I agree. People who are new to coding, we do them a disservice to the extent that we emphasize the purity of the optimal way to solve theoretical problems and focus on algorithms in theory. The sooner you can learn what a mess everything is, the better.

Because you just have to get over it and get overthinking that you’ve got to learn more and you got to know more and one day you’ll know it all, and then you’ll be able to write perfect code. It just never happens like that. The first job that I had doing web development with the A/B testing agency was great.

I was scared to death and I felt like I had no place there and I didn’t know enough to be there. It’s quite possible I didn’t. But, you know, I wrote enough code that did a good enough job, that things have happened and we moved forward and, along the way, in the agency life, you work on a bunch of different clients, a bunch of different projects, a bunch of different websites.

And so I got to learn this pretty quickly that, man, everybody’s websites just broken. It’s just, it’s just barely held together with duct tape at any given moment. There’s all these errors in the console. There’s all this broken stuff. When we go to QA on cross platform, cross browser. This is the norm. And in a way that’s, I guess, that’s liberating, right? Because that frees you from having to write the perfect solution, the cleanest code. If you just get something done, that’s a huge accomplishment.

[00:24:52] Thiago Araujo: Yeah… Duct tape, this is very real.

[00:24:55] Brian Hall: Yeah, no, yeah, it is. And these are smart people and they’re working hard and that’s still how it is. So again, it’s okay for you to write some crappy code to solve a boring problem at a small company or at your current job, even. That’s a great way to start. That’s further than most people get.

[00:25:14] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, for sure. And then, how can people that are really skilled in other areas, you probably know a bunch of marketing people, how can they leveraged their expertise when transitioning to software engineering? Do you have any tips for them?

[00:25:28] Brian Hall: Depending on what the skills are, I guess. You mentioned your friend that had a background in sales, and so just to revisit that, that ability that you’re good at communication, you understand revenue and how business goes down. And so that means that as you transition into coding, you will be better, I assume, at kinda tying your activity to revenue. And so if you’re talking about advancement within the company, that’s an amazing skill that will really set you apart. And I guess just the ability to kind of market yourself internally beyond just talking, talking about revenue, being able to talk about what you do and why it’s valuable and have people hear that and absorb it.

That’s a skill that every developer could probably use more of, except maybe your salesperson friend who’s probably great at it. So there’s that skill set and kind of how that I think is helpful in the dev context. If it’s more like the domain expertise, right? Like we talked about a bioinformatics person who starts to learn enough code to do some coding. They’ve got that expertise and they have a good perspective on how important problems are. And what’s a good enough solution that might be harder for an amateur developer like myself back then to understand. They’re less likely to spin their wheels on a really hard problem that’s not worth the effort because they understand: in the end, where’s this going? In bioinformatics case, we’re trying to put this into a paper and they know , where’s the bar? How much do we need? How good does this have to be? If your domain expertise is in… I don’t know how I got stuck on this example, but… The funeral services industry: you know the end user, you know the actual customers that your products are serving. And that perspective is something that just the developer off the street won’t have. I think that helps you focus on what’s important.

[00:27:22] Thiago Araujo: That makes a lot of sense because you kind of understand who the customer is, right? You know sales, you got to understand who the customer is, why they are paying for something, you know? But then, when we think about… we’re talking about companies with revenue, right? So I wanted to ask you about companies, maybe startups… Maybe startups that are thinking more about growth. So how can a person, say someone that is not a developer, how can they help a startup , they’re not really that worried about revenue right now, they’re more interested in growth and also raising the next round and things like that. How can someone that is not really a developer can help them, but also Use a little bit of code for that.

[00:28:13] Brian Hall: Yeah, gosh, well, my perspective, I guess, comes from doing marketing work. I can at least speak to it in that sense where… Yeah, at a startup everybody’s got 10 jobs and so if one half of one of your jobs is to write some code once in a while, then that’s, that’s likely to stitch all the things together and be hugely valuable. As a marketer, if you’re just good at writing copy and choosing images and you understand dashboards and analytics, like that’s great. If you can take it a couple steps further and you can actually deploy marketing tags to your website without any help, without having to pay a developer or break them out of what they’re doing, probably working on product… Then that’s super valuable. And as you level that skill up, you can do stuff: more advanced analytics, optimization on the website, automating some of the acquisition campaigns… I’m assuming this growth startup is just trying to get users, that’s a very kind of “marketing leads undertaking.”

And so the marketer that can self-serve with small, technical tasks, I promise there’s just a thousand of them, is going to get all these things done that otherwise would come with all the… just all the delays and communication overhead that comes from having to break off task, complete tasks, verify tasks to get stuff done.

That’s the example that comes to mind. I’m not sure what else, what other roles or types of help makes sense in a startup, but for sure, a marketer who can code a little bit

[00:29:50] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, that’s a great insight. Because one thing that I noticed is that, usually in a company or in a startup, the developers, usually they don’t touch the website. It’s usually Webflow or WordPress or something else, entirely PHP. And usually the developers don’t ever touch that. They usually have a separate agency taking care of their website , have a designer…

And it’s interesting when you say, okay, you’re a marketer, you wanna improve the conversion, or you want to do some analytics or do something slightly more sophisticated with the website, but you can’t really ask the developers to stop building the app because they need to help you with the marketing stuff. Usually they won’t even help you. At least from my past experience, they won’t even touch your website. So that’s an interesting insight. If you’re a marketer and you know a little bit of coding, that can help you a lot.

[00:30:47] Brian Hall: It’s a good point. Your other choice, I guess, is to call in favors or pay money. And sometimes that is the right move, but if you can just go do a thing it’s pretty liberating. You actually gave another example earlier of the same question of how someone can help by just knowing a little bit of code with the salesperson that you know. If you’re a startup that has a sales team that closes deals, and you’re able to self-serve on little automation things, outbound emails and stuff like that, versus having to hire an agency, which can be tricky on a startup budget, versus having to bug a developer, who’s probably working on the product, versus doing everything manually, which takes forever. If you can solve that just by yourself as the sales lead, then that’s huge.

[00:31:33] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, because usually you will buy some product to help you with outbound or sales, whatever. But these products they’re never complete, right? They’re always missing some feature or some little integration that only you know about… So you have to, like, stitch something together to fix your problem, but yeah, a good

[00:31:56] Brian Hall: I have a friend that calls it “last-mile code.” It’s the snippets that you have to drop in Zapier or something that you put into Google tag manager, just the last little bit of code that makes the thing work. And sometimes it’s just four lines of JavaScript. That is the difference between launching the thing and not being able to launch the thing.

[00:32:17] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, that’s a good example. What are kind of the pros and cons of working in a non-tech company when you’re starting out. Say you have some skills in sales or marketing. Should you pick a job at a tech company or maybe it’s better to try something slightly different?

I think that it might be much easier if you try to get a job at a non-tech company, because usually when you try to get a developer job, you’re going to talk to the CTO or some senior engineer and, depending on the company, it’s pretty hard to convince them. Developers are kind of elitists sometimes, you know? And they’re like: “Oh, this person doesn’t have a degree in computer science or whatever, or doesn’t have four years of engineering experience , doesn’t know how to code in Go, or… I don’t know. So it’s kind of hard to convince them. How would you approach that? Say you don’t have a lot of experience in engineering, but the CTO is interviewing you. How can you convince him/her to hire you?

[00:33:28] Brian Hall: You touched on something important, which is… earlier when I spoke about the big tech hiring system and how it’s kind of obscure, it’s important to note that some people will never get through that system for whatever reason, just not going to happen. As you mentioned, education, there’s all kinds of factors that go into that.

Being able to solve this and find a technical role at a smaller company or a semi-technical role that’s just a great fit for the skills you already have, is… That’s who I’m here for, right? They probably think “I want a developer job” because they want a developer salary and they want the freedom that comes with knowledge work and using your brain to make money, because they want to solve hard problems, because they want to challenge themselves intellectually. I assume that’s kind of what goes into “I want to be a developer.” And if, instead, you can take a job where you’re a marketer with superpowers, or a sales person with superpowers, or product manager with superpowers because you know a little code, I think that probably satisfies all of those same goals. If you find yourself talking to the CTO about this role that you don’t think you’re fully qualified for… First thing: know that nobody ever really feels fully qualified for stuff, it’s just the normal state of affairs. So I hope that helps to hear it’s universal, but ideally you come into this conversation with some context and some history already. The CTO has seen some work that you did and you shared in public. Maybe that’s even why you’re talking to them in the first place, because it got their attention, or you know them from some sort of a social sphere. Or some sort of a meetup group where you both talk about the same technology. So the best way to get through the CTO and get them to want to hire you is to have them already want to hire you when you walk in the room. And that’s really achievable with smaller companies.

[00:35:24] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think, for the CEO, it’s kind of a no-brainer, like… if they need a marketer and they need a little help with the code, is a no-brainer. They probably will hire you, but it might be trickier with the technical people, but in a smaller company it makes sense. You want people that are kind of flexible and know that they have different skills and wear different hats and all of that. So, yeah, that’s a good insight.

[00:35:51] Brian Hall: The downside maybe of these decisions being made way less formally or completely informally at startups and smaller businesses is that you’ll run into all kinds of people with all kinds of ideas about how they should hire or what you need or whatever. And some of them, I’m sure, out of their minds, but for the most part, they’re just looking for somebody that they can count on to solve the kinds of problems that they have. If you can convince them that that is you, that you will do it, then that’s maybe the end of it. They don’t really care about the Big O Complexity of your solution to whatever programming challenge problem that they pulled off the internet, that it’s just not going to go there. It’s going to be more about trust and reliability.

[00:36:37] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, for sure. Those are really great insights. Brian thank you so much for sharing that with me. And if people want to learn more about the stuff you’re doing, maybe they want to join your “JavaScript for Marketing People” course, or something like that, where can they learn more about you?

[00:36:58] Brian Hall: Yeah. Come find me on Twitter. I love to talk about this stuff. Kind of doing research on this stuff in the background, too. “Brian David Hall” on Twitter, also on LinkedIn, if that works better for you, either one of those. I’d love to hear from you, I’d love to hear about your own non-traditional developer career path if you’ve got one, or if you just need somebody to give you some encouragement and tell you, “Hey, you can do it!” I’m pretty good at that. So I’d love to make some new friends.

[00:37:24] Thiago Araujo: And you also have the podcast, right?

[00:37:27] Brian Hall: Yeah. Yeah. And so that’s, that’s part of me doing marketer markety stuff back to that niche of doing onsite/ website experimentation and optimization, I’ve just kind of continued with that. I no longer just do the coding. The coding is kind of just like a skill in my back pocket. And so I do have the podcast, is called SaaS experiments, and I interview people who do similar work like that: weird, cool stuff on websites to make the websites make more money.

If you’re into that particular brand of nerd stuff, then totally check that out. And then the last thing I’ll throw out too is: I’m actually working on a book, kind of on this topic, a book about niche industries and niche opportunities. And I’d love to offer this book for free to listeners of hexdevs.

So I think we can drop a link maybe in the show notes. And I’ll include a coupon code for this. It’s just a little reference book, like a guidebook to some of these niches that I’ve mentioned on the call, like funeral services or bike shops, all these weird little areas that we don’t necessarily think of as being sources of tech jobs, but they actually are.

[00:38:33] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you so much for sharing that. And for the free book offer, is it free?

[00:38:41] Brian Hall: Yeah. Yeah, free to hexdevs listeners.