I've a few conversations with community member recently about the frustration and distress of applying for positions and not being asked to interview. I wanted to share my thoughts on how to best handle this phase of the job hunting process. This is aimed at junior software developers looking to break into the industry, but I'm sure a lot of this could be applied to any job hunting situation.
Intro - Focus on the Process
- Identify your Audience and Message
- Publish and Get Feedback
Focus on the Process -
We're going to talk philosophical before we talk concrete. Just how you went from knowing nothing about software development to a place where you're applying for professional software development roles, there's a lot you can learn and tweak to more easily land a first round interview. You won't learn it all by reading this blog post, but recognize that focusing your energy on the process of applying for jobs instead of on the end goal of landing a job, you will land interviews faster and have a better time doing it.
The below section will outline individual parts of process.
Note: Don't stop your job hunting as you apply this knowledge. Don't use this as an excuse to procrastinate on applying for positions. Apply this knowledge while continuing to send applications.
Identify Your Audience and Message -
At a recent meetup, there was a brief conversation regarding the frustration with rejection. A few people threw around the term "HR Gatekeepers", and expressed with great conviction that they'd be a great hire if they could only speak to an engineer.
To this I say, HR reps who screen resumes are looking for the best candidates with whom to grow the company. There's no personal vendetta, but they have skin in the game. There is liability in passing on someone to the engineering team who doesn't meet a minimum requirement, since the HR rep would be pulling engineers away from their product work. So - you need to tailor your message to speak to the HR reps. Present yourself as excited and hungry to learn/build.
My message was more or less "I have no professional industry experience, but I'm very excited about software development, I'm an effective builder and a quick learner." My message wasn't "I know what I need to know", but "I'll learn it quickly and bring a fresh perspective." Feel free to use my message as yours, if you can back it up. Once you've identified your message, tailor everything all of your outward facing communication (resume, website, LinkedIn posts, etc) to deliver and confirm that message.
If you just graduated from a bootcamp, you're not going to convince anyone that you're an industry worn developer. "This person is hungry to learn." is a liability-free reason for an HR rep to pass on to the dev team.
Publish and Get Feedback
One way to show HR that you're a safer bet is a steady history of published work. Published work can include blogposts, projects, code samples, etc. As I stated in my previous post, all apply for dev jobs should have their own website. At least, it's a major leg up. This site can then be used to publish your projects, writings, etc, for an HR rep/dev manager to easily find.
Get feedback as often as you can on your published work. JDSB meetups are the perfect forum for this. Ask for feedback on your website. As for feedback on your resume. Ask for feedback on your projects.
Feedback is your friend. Feedback on your resume doesn't reflect on who you are as a person. In a way, constructive feedback is a form of love and care. Receive it as such.
Take that feedback and bake it back into your work. Take feedback from the process and bake it back into the process. Publish and get feedback. Rinse, repeat. Make those small but meaningful refactors to better tell your audience that you're hungry and competent. This feedback loop should always give you something to work on, so you won't be too hung up on each individual application. Each individual application is far less important then your consistent focus on the process of applying.
Thanks for reading. That's all for now.
Happy applying -