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DO NOT USE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES! (If you’re a Junior Developer)

This is a phrase that seems to be getting a lot of publicity at the moment in the recruitment industry, and there are some instances where I agree with this sentiment – for Junior Developers looking to make a move or get their first step on to the commercial ladder and, recently, I have been approached by quite a few Juniors looking for my assistance – which is not something I could do in good faith as I believe I, and any recruitment consultant, would be a hindrance for them.

Why? The key factors here are that there is a lot of competition and the potential new employer will be investing a lot in you, and with little track record there are inherent risks involved. My services obviously cost a recruitment fee so employers like to be certain they’re making the right choice.

So how can you get your foot in the door / the next door?

Build your brand

This goes for anything in life, but if people know of you and they can give you recommendations then potential employers will be more receptive. If people hear of others talking about you positively (or anything for that matter) then their interest is far greater than you telling them how great you are.

Get your GitHub account populated with some projects, get in Stack Overflow and build your rating, sign up to Hacker Rank, take on side projects etc. Have some tangible proof of how good you are.

I would also highly recommend getting out to meetups in your field. Firstly, you will learn A LOT from the talks. And secondly, you might meet some useful contacts. Win – Win.

Make it your job to get a job

Just having a LinkedIn account will not cut it, agencies will likely pass you over due to lack of commercial experience and clients often don’t have the time (or the right access) to trawl through hundreds of profiles.

Which brings me on to my point; DO NOT just send your CV in to the generic enquries@ or hello@ email addresses listed on company websites. Of course, this is not always the case, but often these are inundated with speculative CVs from agencies and other job seekers which might mean your profile slips through the net.

Top tip: Download a Chrome extension called Hunter and find the development manager on LinkedIn, then email them directly with your CV. Worst case scenario they will direct you to HR, but at least you can then reference them in your email (they get a higher response rate). Always follow up your email with a phone call / follow up email a day later, this show proactivity and also reminds them that you’ve sent your CV (they may have brushed past it as they’re busy).

Interview with everyone

This may be difficult if you’re in a role, as you’ll have to take time off, but if you’re not then GO TO THE INTERVIEW.

Firstly, it’s good practice. Interviews can be daunting so it’s good to build confidence being in front of people.

Secondly, the role is often very different to the job spec so you may be pleasantly surprised.

Top tip: If you say yes to an interview, make sure you turn up. A slight cold won’t inhibit your chances and you might not get a second shot.

Make sure the role is right for you

Money is not the be all and end all of any job, especially your first (or second) one. Look for a company that will nurture you and help you grow. You will want to enjoy turning up to work every day, trust me. Meet your potential new colleagues, make sure you meet who will you will be reporting in to. This day in age it’s not uncommon to change jobs every couple of years, but that’s still a long time. If you jump jobs every 6-9 months then questions will start to be raised, be prepared to stick with it for a while.

Finally, be humble in where you are. Ambition is a good thing, but don’t try and run before you can walk. Companies will look for people who want to grow within their organisation, and this can take time, but make sure that you are learning everything you can and you really have hit the ceiling before you move. Don’t jump in to contracting after 1 year, get a few solid years in challenging perm roles first and you will have a much higher rate.

Have I missed anything out? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Join the discussion on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-use-agencies-alastair-band

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