Having knowledge is not the same as having the skill and practical ability to apply that knowledge to create software applications. This is where craftsmanship comes in.
Unfortunately, that team has no incentive to risk hiring someone who may not be able to directly contribute to the team’s workload. The team also faces the possibility that you may not even be able to indirectly contribute, such as by automating some simple manual tasks.
Acquire and maintain concrete skills. Even though one of the things that an apprentice brings to a team is an ability to learn quickly, the possession of discrete and demonstrable ability with specific tools and technologies increases the likelihood that you will be trusted to contribute indirectly until you start to gain stature.
The point is that you will often require hiring managers to take a leap of faith in choosing you. Concrete skills (which are ideally discrete enough that you can bring toy implementations to an interview) allow you to meet them halfway. The concrete skills you possess are your answer to the question: “If we hire you today, what can you do on Monday morning that will benefit us?” A deep understanding of Your First Language will help establish your credibility and should prove to be extremely useful to your team.
As you begin to make the transition to the role of journeyman you will become less dependent on these skills, as you start to be hired on the basis of your reputation, your portfolio of previous work, and the deeper qualities you bring to a team. Until then, your virtues must be a little more overt.
Collect the CVs of people whose skills you respect. You can either ask them for a copy or download the CVs from their websites. For each person, identify five discrete skills noted on the CV, and determine which of these skills would be immediately useful on the kind of team you want to join. Put together a plan and a toy project that will demonstrate that you have acquired these skills. Implement the plan.
Get in the habit of going through your own CV on a regular basis. As you do so, extract the concrete skills into a separate list. Are you comfortable knowing that many hiring managers will only look at the items in this list rather than the sum of your experiences?