With the tech world at their feet, and the ability to work practically anywhere they want, the 10x developer is one of the personality types that is close to mythical. So, does this developer type really exist, and if so, how do you know if it could be you? Here's our 10x-er personality review card.
10x-er — A developer who has such massive levels of productivity that it appears they are doing the work of 10 other developers. Everything that this developer touches turns to gold, and is at a level beyond the standard developer.
Related: 10x developer, rockstar
The real 10x developer will be able to effortlessly hop between programming languages, finding the best one for the job.
Being hyper-productive requires more than this though — you will also need to have a good understanding of DevOps; being able to create a new Docker container, create a more effective build script, or improving the deployment process are all essential skills.
Speaking of which, the extensibility of your unit tests will be very important. 10x efficiency can only be achieved when your code.
Good listening skills are also needed as requirements are listed out and you need to find the best way to implement them.
The most important thing that any 10x-er needs is a complete understanding of the domain and the company's mission. Without that, there is too much chance of the developer going off on the wrong track. While you can get around this with close management of goals, you'll find developers of this calibre don't appreciate micro-management.
The Tell-Tale Signs
Wondering if you're in the company of one of these fabled developers? Here are some clues.
A 10x developer is one who will be able to give you an estimate for a piece of work and at the very worst, they will meet the deadline, although it's more likely they will beat it.
The developer will have the complete attention of the rest of the team at standup meetings; this is someone who has proven their abilities, so others will naturally want to learn from them. They'll be quite popular in the canteen area helping out other developers.
A 10x developer will enjoy working on their own rather than with others who may slow them down. You'll regularly find them tweaking code and scripts outside of the current task, as they have a more holistic view of the entire project.
Tips For Your CV:
If you want to come across as a 10x developer for job interviews:
Highlight your tendency to always meet or exceed deadlines
Show your passion for programming languages
Show your capabilities in dev-ops
Do you research on the company and it's products so that you can hit the ground running, showing that you can be productive from day one.
How To Succeed as a 10x-er
The key point for unlocking your 10x potential is to have laser-like work focus.
Reduce distractions as much as possible.
Focus on the core tasks at all times.
Ensure that you have adequate input at planning meetings, so that you can encourage the product to grow in a direction that you believe in.
Get good noise cancelling headphones.
Keep in touch of all the latest tech news - try to set aside a little time for this everyday.
And keep learning new programming languages, techniques and patterns. You never know when they will give you a power boost.
Things to Watch Out For
It's almost counter-intuitive for the 10x-er, but they should endeavour to work as part of a team as much as possible. While this may result in them losing out on their own productivity, they may very well be the catalyst for creating an exceptional development team.
A 10x-er has a low level of patience for the status quo, and can often find a complete rewrite more appealing than the quick fix. While you can trust their instincts mostly, sometimes this can lead to a lot of wasted time.
Operating at 10 times the rate of other developers can take it's toll, especially on your work-life balance. If you have a reputation for getting loads done, on your 'off days' you may need to compensate by working later. Just remember, no one needs to be 'on' 100% of the time.
Am I a 10x-er?
Take a read through these questions, and answer honestly.If you find yourself answering yes with most of the questions then you might well be the Elon Musk of the developer world.
Have you always beaten project deadlines?
Do you look at a piece of other people's code and have to fight yourself to not scrap it and start it again, in your way?
Do you keep in touch with all the latest programming languages?
Do you laugh at the thought of an 8-hour (or even 10-hour) workday?
Are you constantly frustrated by the lack of pace in the real world? (like even waiting for coffee to be served!).
The State of the Industry for 10x-ers
However, finding a true 10x programmer can be difficult, and even if you do find that exceptional person, it can be difficult to measure if this hit the mark.
One thing for sure is that 10x-ers need to look after themselves. If you believe you fit the bill, don't be afraid to ask for more (higher salary, better options, good equipment), because the chances are that you are in danger of being taken advantage of.
What are the long term career prospects?
Chances are that true 10x developers will end up with a lot of share options and so could be in a position where they can retire early. I would say that most 10x developers end up working in advanced R&D positions, rather than moving into any level of management or leadership. After all, their core skill is turning around the impossible quickly. Chief of Moonshots might end up being a title they can live up to!
Examples in Tech History
Steve Wozniak: There would be no Apple without the efforts of Steve Wozniak (don't forget that Steve Jobs didn't code). He slavishly worked to build the original Apple I singlehandedly, and changed how we saw computing forever.