Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

How Much Is My Resume Worth?

on March 6, 2015

The best part of learning to code is that I don’t need someone else to give me permission. It is not dependent on getting a certain grade at school, applying to attend a university, waiting until a time that is convenient for them to learn, and then paying course fees that cost more than a new car. I do not need to pay professional registration fees, sit final exams, or answer to anyone about my skill level. With the proliferation of online training I just need to do a Google search and whatever I want to learn is a mouse click away.

Training courses can provide structure for learning, and I have definitely progressed faster with online courses than I might have done alone, but now I am focusing on a new type of structure: job advertisements. For me, this is perfect gamification of the learning process.

Each week I do a search for IT jobs in my area. I filter the ads based on my primary language – JavaScript – and see which accompanying skills are listed. HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery are high on the list, and after that the skills tend to diversify significantly. I have begun tracking the frequency of the required skills, and I am starting to dabble with the most frequent languages and libraries.

Comparing my existing skills to what is in the ads lets me ask two important questions:

  1. If I needed to find a job tomorrow, what should I learn today to make that easier?
  2. If I needed to find a job today, what are my skills worth?

The first question is easy to answer because I am tracking skill frequency. I can look at these languages and spend a few hours experimenting with each of them. If I suddenly need to apply for work I can say that I have limited experience rather than no experience. It probably won’t be enough to get me the hypothetical job, but it might be the difference between getting a telephone interview and a standard rejection letter.

The second question is where the gamification comes into this. A salary is nothing more than a socially agreed points system. Whenever I can tick off all of the skills on a job advertisement, I check the salary on offer. I make a note in my tracking data, and mentally assign myself the corresponding points. Each time I find an ad with a higher salary that I match, I update the points I am giving myself.

There will obviously be a gap between how I perceive my skills and how the rest of the world perceives them, but for now this process is leaves me feeling empowered and in control of my market value. I am consciously playing the game, and my reward is learning things that I might otherwise have put off learning. And who knows? I might even be right.

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