Finding a job as a software developer is a bit different from finding a job in other professions like marketing or sales. Throughout the hiring process, most of the weight is placed on hard skills like your knowledge of specific language/frameworks and your ability to write clean, quality code. Less weighted but still important are your soft skills, like the ability to communicate problems and progress of projects effectively.
And finally, you have the ability to add a cherry on top of your written experience with the ability to show off your skills with past projects, whether personal or professional. All of this information adds up to your candidate profile that, when done right, can make you irresistible to employers.
Here are some tips on how software developers can take full advantage of the tools presented to them to lead an effective job hunt.
1. Show your code
As a developer, your greatest asset in the job search is your code. The ability to write readable and interesting code can really grab the attention of hiring managers. If you’ve challenged yourself with a unique project or show the ability to be efficient, it allows them to more easily consider you a standout candidate.
Contribute and publish your code online on platforms like GitHub or Bitbucket. If you prefer the go-it-alone route, you should demonstrate your skills on your own website where you host your projects and put up snippets of code for public viewing.
Wherever you host your code, that profile essentially becomes your second resume. It’s an easily discoverable and shareable representation of your technical skills. Paste a link directly onto all your application documents and associate your profile with your name and contact info. A repository of all your code is a great way for your technical talent to be discovered. Both employers you reach out to and employers that are looking for your skills will appreciate your public-facing profiles.
2. Cater to recruiters
Most recruiters tasked with hiring developers are non-technical. It’s rare to find a recruiter who knows how to code and can have in-depth technical conversations. This is true even among those recruiters who specialize in hiring technical talent. Since recruiters will act as the first line of defense for a hiring manager regardless of their technical knowledge, it’s crucial to cater your application to their understanding, too.
In fact, while catering your resume to a specific job is crucial for any applicant, it’s even more important for developers who want to get past that first non-technical screening.
It all starts with how you talk about your experience. Read carefully through the job description, where you can find all the relevant information and keywords that recruiters are looking for. Make sure that you prioritize those skills, languages, and frameworks that are listed in the job description on your resume. Highlight relevant projects and accomplishments in your cover letter.
Recruiters spend short seconds scanning your application on a first read-through. Optimizing your documents so that you catch their eye with the specific skills they’re hunting for means you’ll be more likely to get a second, more careful reading.
It’s also important to talk about your soft skills like leadership, communication, and adaptability. Recruiters appreciate a well-rounded candidate who shows value beyond their technical skillset. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you ran a project from conception to execution, led a team of developers, organized a new club in college, or spent your time off tackling personal projects.
3. Post on job boards
The hunt for high quality technical talent is extremely competitive. Employers are actively battling each other to attract top engineers to their companies. They’re offering stellar perks and benefits, high salaries, promotions, and other incentives to both obtain and retain talented software & web developers.
Look to niche boards to find the most straightforward information. You’ll eliminate the noise and spam of the bigger job boards while focusing only on the opportunities that best fit your skillset.
Here are some great job boards to get you started:
4. Challenge yourself
As part of an effort to evaluate technical skills, employers have been using coding challenges to test each qualified applicant on their problem solving, coding, and performance under pressure. A great way to prepare for these challenges is to take advantage of platforms that let you compare yourself to other developers. Sites like CodeEval and HackerRank allow you to take various coding challenges in different languages. They enable you to test your skills, compete against your peers, and create profiles of your coding competition success that are discoverable by employers.
Another great way to demonstrate your abilities is to participate in hackathons. These are 24 to 48 hour coding marathons where you join a team working on interesting app ideas collaboratively. Hackathons can be either general or industry-specific, allowing you to work on any idea you come up with or on an idea within a framework, like an Apple Watch Hackathon or a Healthcare App Challenge. You can search ChallengePost, Hacker League, Hackathon.io, or even Meetup to find hackathons in your area.
When it comes to creating an effective candidate profile, developers have a lot of great platforms at their fingertips. Using these tools in combination with applying for jobs can become a mess. The best way to take full advantage of all the opportunities presented to you as a developer is to stay organized. Check out JobHero to keep track of your applications, add jobs from any site on the web, and lead a smart job hunt.
Stefan Mancevski is co-founder of JobHero, a free all-in-one job search dashboard enabling you to organize, optimize, and upgrade your hunt for a new gig.