in Professional development

You are not the market

A couple of years ago I was speaking with a Software Engineer called James who, after unsuccessfully negotiating his compensation package, was looking for his next move. He wanted to go back to contracting. He told me what he was looking for per day, my jaw must have dropped. He said that recruiters responded in the same way; he was turned down by at least 5 recruiters, let alone the end client.


“Does that knock your confidence or change your approach, it looks like you aren’t competitive with the market?” I asked him. I’ll never forget what he told me:


“I’m not going to work for the market, I’m going to work with one client.”
– James


I couldn’t get his words out of my head. As an Economist by education, thinking about market outcomes in terms of the interaction of many consumers and producers to arrive at an equilibrium price and output level had become deeply ingrained. But the more I thought about what James said, the more it made sense. After all, the market tells us about what average is but that’s not James’ focus. He’s part of psychographic who have the belief structure to support the pursuit of top percentile opportunities.


A household client were looking for developers just like James. He was offered a contract without any quibbles of day rate.


This brief experience fractured my perception of what a person can and should earn. It would take a subsequent life experience for the fractured pieces to totally break and a gruelling year which would meld the broken piecesĀ into a philosophy with one less limiting belief. But that’s the story of another post.