A guide to getting noticed in the 21st century tech job market.
Following on from the article I wrote last week about helping Junior / Graduate Developers land their first job, I had a number of requests (one is still a number…) to write a post about helping experienced professionals through the minefield that is job hunting in 2017.
Most of this will probably be more relevant to permies, as contractors have probably had more exposure to the job market, but I hope there’s useful information for everyone here. There may be some points repeated, this is not me being lazy (well, maybe) but it’s because they hold true for those of all levels.
With the job market being so competitive for good talent, you really are in the driving seat here. Companies are starting to realise this, but to get the most out of your job search you may need to look further than having a stellar work history.
Have a good CV (you would think this is obvious…)
This is absolutely key. I know it’s the 21st century, and with LinkedIn / GitHub etc. it may not seem necessary, but it is.
Have a clearly written and well laid out CV. The key things to remember here is that this is just a key to open the door. You should only have the key points on here; what the project was for and what techs used. Maybe include team size.
CVs should be short, punchy and concise. According to The Undercover Recruiter*, recruiters spend 5-7 seconds actually reading your CV before deciding to call or move on. From my experience speaking with hiring managers, they don’t spend much longer either. There is an array of other LinkedIn articles about how to write a good CV, some links and an example of a good looking CV are at the bottom.
Finally, if you have a creative flair in your work, have a creative CV. A UI developer with a 5,000 word CV, written in Microsoft Word, in size 10 Times New Roman is significantly less likely to get an interview than someone with a sleek looking one or two page PDF for a CV.
Don’t go AWOL (and be transparent)
Ever had a recruiter go silent on you when you were “perfect for the role”? It sucks, doesn’t it? Well we feel the same when you go missing. Whether you’re working directly with a client or through an agency then there should be a level of trust and engagement built up, so if something happens, or your situation changes, then you should always tell your recruiter / potential manager. Even if it’s just to say you don’t think the role is right for you. Letting them (us?) know you’re not feeling it is fine, jobs are not one size fits all. But please, just let them know. Nothing leaves a bad taste like an enthusiastic client and an AWOL candidate. You never know, you may actually want a job with that company in the future.
On the transparency side… Please by all means hang up the phone on recruiters that ask you where you’re interviewing on the first call when they won’t tell you who their “client” is. Our industry does not need them.
However, when recruiters (who actually have a role for you) or hiring managers ask you if you’re interviewing elsewhere, and where you’re at in those processes, it is absolutely fine to tell them. Those questions are asked to gauge where they stand in terms of how you feel about the role. This is your chance to let them know how it compares so they can amend things, where possible, at the earliest stage. Bringing these things up once an offer is made is sure way of creating tension that could have been avoided.
Build your brand (positively)
At this level, you should have an active and up to date GitHub (or similar) account and a social media presence, if you don’t (and some don’t…) then have some relevant code samples of your work at the ready to be able to forward to prospective employers (be that through an agent or direct).
Talking of social media… build a positive brand around yourself across all platforms. Make your presence there about helping others and being perceived as an all-round good egg (it’s Easter, let me have that one). There is a worrying human tendency to be negative, and this is perpetuated on social media to nth degree. Be different. Be positive.
Whether it’s a potential employer or a recruitment agent reading it, a continual negative outlook or public shaming of individuals / companies will create and cause unnecessary doubts. Yes, there are times it is necessary, but if it’s not completely needed then keep it private.
Make sure the role is right for you
In this day and age it’s easy to find out information about new companies, and even your potential new manager. Speak to current or past employees (easily found with LinkedIn) if you have any doubts at all. Whether it’s contract or perm, leaving within a few weeks looks bad on the recruiter (if you used one), you and the company. Too many mistakes will lead to questions about why you’ve moved so much. The simple solution is to make the right decision in the first place.
Contractors: Try to look for contracts of at least 3 months, and always ask about the likelihood of extension. For many projects in application development, you won’t achieve much in less than 3 months so jumping around with 1 month here, 2 months there etc. will raise questions about your experience in getting a project through to delivery.
Permies: Companies will invest a lot in you, not just in terms of the salary and NI contributions. There a many man hours spent on the onboarding process, getting you up to speed with their development processes, training costs, equipment costs etc. And if they used a recruiter, then a recruitment fee too. If you jump ship within 12 months of starting a role a few times in a row, this may be to your detriment due the additional costs involved. Obviously, this depends on the role / company but as a rule of thumb look to be staying at least 18-24 months in a role.
What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything out?
Example of a well written CV:
CV writing tips: