Selling myself

For almost two decades I have worked in the IT industry. I have enjoyed a wide variety of jobs where I started building machines for the a neighborhood white box vendor to becoming the IT resource for multiple dot-com start-ups in Silicon Valley. And now I answer phones, providing tech support for Enterprise customers. I spend my 9 hour shifts fixing what other people own. Every day I am repairing something that another 'paper qualified' person put in place. Rarely am I engaged to repair something that is broken after it has been correctly installed and maintained. I am doing their jobs for them. And the ones I really enjoy are the consultants that call us to fix what they installed and are being paid many more dollars per hour for than I am. Yet I am his resource to maintain his customers.

What is the difference between those people and my self?

A good question that I spent a heavy part of my vacation trying to figure out. Here is what I came up with: I'm too experienced and not flexible enough in this market. I have worked myself into a niche market that is all but closed up. For years I have been paying a portion of my taxes to help ensure that the off-shore outsourcing is profitable to employers because of the federal tax kickbacks the employers get. Now I'm competing with persons who have degrees that I never made the time to get. They have papers that suggest they have the skills an employer wants and needs. I have the experience to actually do the work.

So, again, what am I missing?

In a word: Salesmanship. I am not a salesman. I have a hard time with salesmen. I call a vendor for something I need, I ask for their website. I then bargain hunt. HARD! Then I call back, armed with those details. If they will not provide me the item I am looking for (or like item) within 5%, I move on. 5% of the price is what I consider a reasonable difference for having it NOW, rather than ordering one in. Their S&H charges are spread out across several items in an order, not a single item.

Example: I recently replaced my failing motorcycle. I had cash for the dealership that had the bike I wanted. I sat down with the sales guy, and started the haggle process. He quoted a price and I countered. He excused himself to speak with his supervisor. I told him, then, to get the very bottom dollar the supervisor would go for, because I don't have all day. He came back with a different number. I again countered. He said he had to ask, again. I left. He did not follow instructions of me, the customer. He was prepared to waste my time. I understand the process. Get the customer so wrapped up and invested in the purchase they will finally commit to a price the dealership wants, rather than what is in budget.

I, honestly, could never do the other side of that job. I don't sell, well. I'm not into marketing. I don't trust it. Marketing has proven, to me, to be a series of lies, mistruths and hype that usually over sells an item or service. And leaves a company with unhappy customers, but a dollar today, rather than being honest, selling a reasonable and quality product at a righteous price and earning 20 dollars tomorrow. That is what marketing means to me.

So, how does a person such as myself sell himself into a different job? Especially one across state lines where he has no business contacts, but needs to find employment there for family reasons?



toadbile said...

A couple of months after JAVA was released there were job opening for people with Five Years of Java Experience. Those positions were filled. There is no quality more successful than confident lying; it's no accident that management is densly populated with incompetant fools whose only skill is salesmanship. (My reading of Thucydadies suggest this is not a recent developement.)

slave girl k said...

did You get the bike for Your price or theirs?

Pagan Blacksmith said...


I try very hard to be honest during interviews. I see openings and I don't fill them. I ask questions regarding the position and give them the opportunity to lie to me. They usually do. If so, I can't work there.

Pagan Blacksmith said...


Neither. I went to a different shop where I found a bike I liked, at a reasonable price. These guys would not come down on the price, but they DID throw in a few extras, like extended service and warranty contracts, a good cover and moved my amplifier and speakers from my old bike to the new, for me.