I got a question about outsourcing, is outsourcing a threat to software developers? This question is, I’m new to web development, but I was looking through some freelance websites, and it seems to be dominated by Indian software developers at very low rates, so I was wondering what you think of outsourcing killing our chances of finding jobs here in the US. I mean why hire someone in the US for $70 an hour when some developer in India will do it for $10 an hour.
This is a great question; I think a lot of people are afraid of this. As someone who hires a lot of people outside of the US to do work for me. I feel like I can answer this question pretty well from both perspectives here, First of all, do I think that outsourcing is a threat to American software developers? Absolutely, it is, and you should be scared, and I’ll tell you why.
Because if you think that your job is just to write code then you’re going to be outsourced and you’re going to have someone do your job for $10 an hour. Your job as software developer is not just to write code,
- It’s to communicate an idea,
- It’s to understand someone’s idea,
- Interpret it into the code,
- It’s to be able to use your judgment and
- Deliver a product and
- It’s more than just translating some requirement into code.
- A lot of it is deriving a requirement. It’s the only extra value that you can add through your services I’ll talk about.
You can get that here, How To Market Yourself As a Software Developer. This is all about building a brand and branding yourself which is the thing that’s going to make it so that you’re not a commodity. I’ve done some posts, and I’ve talked about—and some emails, the idea of the fact that if you don’t learn to market yourself as a software developer. You’re going to become a commodity, and then you can be easily outsourced, right? The thing that’s going to make you valuable is going to be all the everything else that you attach to your name. Having a name, building a reputation in the software development industry is going to make it so that someone is going to hire you and pay your higher rate over someone who they don’t know who they have trouble communicating with India for $10 an hour. But if you don’t have that, if you’re just a regular programmer, and you don’t have a name or reputation, if you haven’t built a blog, if you don’t have that then you’re going to be competing.
You don’t want to be competing on that level. You don’t want to be saying that you can produce this software at the same rate as this other person because that’s something that’s easily comparable. If you take two coders and say, “Okay, can you write this code” the only thing that they’re going to compare on is dollars just like when you go to the supermarket, and you buy sugar, right? You don’t say, “Which sugar is better?” It’s sugar, right? It’s flour. It’s not better than ones not better than the other, but if you went, and you went to the supermarket and you—or let’s say the electronic store, and you’re looking at let’s say computers the $200 computer is a lot different than the $3000 computer, right? You can compare those on features. There’s a lot more to it.
That’s what you want to be able to be. You don’t want to be a commodity. In order to not be a commodity, you have to build up that reputation, build up a brand. You have to know more than just writing code. The other side to this I would say is that you don’t have to worry as much because of a lot of times one of the most variable skills, at least when I hire someone, is communication.
It turns out we spend more of our time communicating and trying to get people to do like if I have a very clearly defined task. I might be able to outsource that and get someone to do that for really cheap, but I’d rather pay someone a higher hourly wage if I can communicate what my intention is and my idea to them and they can execute on that, and it doesn’t require as much explanation. They can communicate well with me I’d rather pay someone double the rate if they can do that than pay half the rate and waste a whole bunch of time going back and forth and getting the wrong thing delivered, right? That’s the key. It’s up to you. You can totally be a commodity and choose to be the kind of software developer that is going to be competing with Indian software developers at $10 an hour, or you can be the kind of software developer that learns how to market themselves.
I know Indian software developers that are billing $100 an hour I guarantee they’re living pretty well in India, and they’re billing US clients, and it’s because they’ve developed excellent communication skills. They’ve actually built up a brand and learned how to market themselves, and they’ve invested in their career.
They’re not billing themselves as just a programmer, and they’re someone that can go into a business and analyze the requirements and can even lead a team of software developers that can end up building the thing. Because at the end of the day we don’t hire people to write code, we hire people to take ideas and to implement them and to make reality out, make them into reality. That’s the key skill If you are in a country that has a lower GDP, and you are in a place where people make a lot less money you can set yourself apart and you can become extremely valuable by remembering that one of the most important things is communication, work on your communication skills, and you’ll definitely build up your rates. Hopefully, that answers your question.
Outsourcing is only something that you need to fear if you are not willing to become more than just a programmer. If you’re not, then yeah, then you should fear it, and it’s just going to get cheaper and cheaper as we live in more and more of a global economy.