Refactor Your Career

Elliot Bonneville
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I raised my rate 467% in three years

Hey there! I'm Elliot Bonneville, a contracting web developer living in Rhode Island and working remotely. I love coding, and I don’t plan on ever stopping.

At one point, though, I wasn’t so sure of that. After four years without any significant raises, I needed to make more money.

I knew that something had to change. I tried launching a startup, running a digital marketing business, and even technical writing.

It wasn’t long before I found out that all of those other jobs made me miserable, and all I wanted to do was code (sound familiar?). I hated spending every day drowning in meetings and dragging JIRA tickets around, cold calling lawyers, or trying to teach people over Zoom.

So I went back to programming.

But when I learned my wife and I were expecting, I realized I had to figure out a way to make more money while continuing to do what I loved. I knew it was possible, because other people did it – but what I didn’t know was .

It took a lot of frustration, anxiety, and coming within 24 hours of missing our rent payment, but after some truly desperate times...

I doubled my rate.

And then I doubled it again. And then I raised it some more, just for good measure.

It turns out, getting more money for the work you love to do isn’t all that hard – you just have to know how. But...

The devil’s in the details.

If I told you all you had to do in order to double your rate was:

  • Change jobs frequently (without being seen as a job hopper)
  • Be willing to walk away from offers
  • Have a specialty
  • Know your true worth
  • Be confident on the phone
  • Negotiate aggressively

...would you believe me? Well, it’s all pretty reasonable stuff. But just from that list, can you actually go raise your rates? I couldn’t. A lot of people talk about these things online, but what they were saying wasn’t enough.

And that’s why I wrote this artisanal hand-typed book. It’s the guide I somebody had handed me six years ago. I share everything I learned along the way, like how to talk to recruiters, whether it’s better to bill as a corporation or as an individual, and how to negotiate aggressively and with confidence.

Fair warning, the advice in this book isn’t for everybody. The person I was six years ago may not be the person you are today.

This book is for you if you...

  • Have at least two or three years of programming experience
  • Love software development, but see work as a means to an end
  • Would like to stay at an individual contributor level
  • Are actively looking for ways to make more money
  • Are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and learn hard new things

It's not for you if you...

  • Are a brand new software developer or haven't found your first role yet
  • Value what you're doing and/or who you're doing it with more than the money
  • Are comfortable with your current income or are not motivated by money
  • Aren’t willing to consider contracting as an alternative to full-time employment

Okay. Still with me?

Here’s the deal: every developer has two jobs: writing code, and finding people to pay them to write code. Most developers know about the first job, but far fewer developers realize .

What does that second job look like? Well, as the old sales adage goes: good marketing and a bad product beat a great product with bad marketing.

Learn to market and sell yourself, and you will make more money.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Why I wrote this book and who I am
  • Who this book is for and who this book is not for
  • What this book is about
  • Chapter 1: I 5x’d My Rate In Three Years
  • My story in brief
  • $30/hr: inbound via Stack Overflow
  • $30/hr to $35/hr: referral
  • $95/hr: inbound via Stack Overflow
  • $60/hr: social networking
  • $110/hr: I post my resume online
  • $120/hr: recruiter
  • $140/hr: recruiter
  • Chapter 2: Quit Your Job
  • All raises are relative to your starting salary
  • After a certain point, your company can’t afford you any more
  • For every company that will pay you 200%, there also exists a company that will pay you 400%
  • It’s very difficult to be paid your true value
  • Don’t be a job hopper, be a contractor
  • Chapter 3: Talk With Recruiters
  • Recruiters are an important resource
  • Recruiters look for the highest return-on-investment candidates
  • Only talk to high-level recruiters
  • Confidence is a proxy for value
  • Become confident on the phone
  • Read sales books and learn sales
  • Chapter 4: Learn To Negotiate
  • Recruiters agencies profit when you lower your rate
  • Charging more makes you worth more
  • Be prepared to bargain
  • Compromise on other things besides rate
  • Play multiple offers against each other
  • Offers are limited-time-only
  • Don’t ghost recruiters
  • Chapter 5: Optimize Your Online Presence To Generate Leads
  • Optimize your resume
  • Instant resume disqualifiers
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile
  • Have a lot of connections
  • Set your location to a major tech hub
  • Make your profile page stand out
  • Get recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past
  • Resources for further reading on LinkedIn optimization
  • Chapter 6: Don’t Work With Startups or Household Names
  • Don’t work with startups
  • Taking equity is becoming a micro venture capitalist
  • Empirically, equity is not as valuable as it seems
  • Startup benefits are the cheese in the mousetrap
  • Don’t work with household names
  • The Goldilocks Zone is big companies that aren’t FAANGs
  • Talent begets talent; therefore, go where talent is not
  • Smaller companies are more able to negotiate
  • Live in a low cost-of-living area, work in a high cost-of-living area
  • Chapter 7: Start Your Own Contracting Company
  • Billing corp-to-corp results in higher earnings
  • Set up your business correctly
  • Read low-risk contracts yourself
  • Contracts are negotiable
  • Payment terms
  • Termination clause
  • Non-solicitation clause
  • Non-compete clause
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Never give notice before you sign the paperwork
  • Chapter 8: Build Your Network
  • Do astonishingly good work
  • Build relationships with colleagues and bosses
  • Stay front-of-mind with contacts as time goes by
  • Your network has a half-life
  • Look for mentors
  • Chapter 9: Improve Your Mindset – Yes, You Can Charge More
  • Employers want business value, not engineers
  • Many limits are self-imposed
  • Be wary of plateauing and local maxima
  • Confidence and skill do not increase together
  • Chapter 10: Don’t Be A Commodity
  • Find a niche
  • Dig yourself moats
  • Build credibility
  • Conclusion
  • Ask yourself if you really believe you can raise your rates
  • Decide on your career story
  • Update your resume and your LinkedIn
  • Start talking with recruiters as soon as possible
  • Negotiate well
  • Do astonishingly good work
  • Network and build credibility
  • Let me know

Refund Policy

I have a no-questions-asked refund policy. If you decide this book wasn't what you were expecting or you're not 100% satisfied with what you find, just shoot me an email and I'll send you a full refund.

Can't Afford It?

If you can't afford this book or you're out of a job because of COVID or related problems, just shoot me an email and we'll work something out.

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Beta Release
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Last Update
Dec. 1, 2020

Refactor Your Career

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