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Attention, rockstar developers: Get a talent agent

Paul Heltzel | Feb. 24, 2015
You've heard the timeworn advice: Leverage LinkedIn, post code to GitHub, bone up on the latest buzzy tech. But a little-known career trick is giving some of today's top developers an edge: Hire an agent to find work for you.

In many cases, large corporate clients send contract job descriptions — and salary requirements — to recruiters who then race to find the right talent at that price. Traditional permanent placement is still happening, but it's on the decline as companies seek to outsource work they can't afford to do in-house, working with tightening budgets.

Solomon, of the 10x agency, says technology development is increasingly a freelancer's game, unlike previous generations who had long tenures at one job or at least went from one full-time job to another.

"You don't know when you're going to want your next job," Solomon says. "I think that we're seeing a lot of people who have run their careers not by staying in one place and moving up but by hopping. We can talk about freelance vs. full-time, but full-time is rapidly moving toward freelance."

But before you get lost in dreams of skiing three months a year thanks to some kind of impending piecework paradigm, remember that the freedom of freelancing, whether undertaken by choice or necessity, is balanced by the need to hustle, on your own dime, for work.

"What I've seen is people will go freelance for a certain period of time, then maybe start having a little bit harder time finding projects," says Blink Reaction's Laszlo. "Something happens at home or whatever and now all of a sudden they need to be full-time somewhere and there's a frantic search."

In the end, the bigger question may be how to stay up-to-date rather than whether to go freelance or punch a clock. Wright tells a story, from when he first started out, of a programmer whose main requirement was being challenged.

"He basically said, 'Look, every project I take ... it has to expose me to new technology, so they'll want me for the next job.' He looked at the skill makeup and the nature of the project, before he looked at the rate. His skills were constantly advancing. So he spent three months in Costa Rica every year and the other nine months he got to work and got paid."


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