So now you are ready to apply for a role?
So you’ve been hammering away experimenting with code, just finished your boot camp course or have earned your degree and now you’re looking to land your dream job but what’s the best way to kick-start your career?
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get a portfolio together, pretty much every employer will ask for one and it’s one of the best ways to stand out. Put yourself in a potential employers shoes, you have an open vacancy for a Junior Developer and you have received multiple applications, how do you decide which candidates are worth your time interviewing and more importantly how do you know which one you want to offer the position to. Most potential employers will find they are a lot more comfortable picking a developer who can demonstrate that they are hardworking and passionate who has some examples that shows off their talent. Now picture you are that candidate that applied for the job but doesn’t have a portfolio, the chances are that you have just been knocked out of the interviewing process by someone else that did. The quality of your portfolio is also incredibly important. Quite often when I ask a recent graduate to put a portfolio together I receive a collection of poor work examples that they are not personally proud of or they have just sent me the work they have done during university. The odd university project is fine particularly if it is at a good standard however if this is all your portfolio comprises of then sorry but you just look lazy. A portfolio should be full of personal projects or small commercial projects that you have manged to work on for friends/families or can even be volunteer work for charities. This is a great opportunity to really sell yourself and attract attention, do not do include anything that will ruin someone’s perception of your abilities. If you have a decent portfolio that you are proud of, don’t be afraid to take a tablet or laptop into an interview to show it off. This works incredibly well as you have just changed the interview into an interactive experience which will certainly make life a lot harder for your opposition.
So now you have your portfolio ready and you’re ready to take the next step so it’s time to write your CV. This isn’t going to be a comprehensive guide to CV writing but I certainly can share some key pointers that will definitely help you make the right impression. The first piece of advice that I would like to stress is that a CV should not be a story of your life to date! The purpose of a CV is sell yourself and demonstrate that you are right for the position you are applying to. Also your key objective is to be as relevant as possible, make sure your skills match what the employer is looking for. If your skill set / experience is focused towards PHP and the role you applied to is for a Java Developer your application is most likely going to be ignored. Now you might have experience with Java and that’s why you applied for the role, unfortunately the person reading your CV does not know this and they’re not going to contact you to find out. A lot of people have several CV’s with the aim of appealing to different audiences which I would definitely recommend doing if you are looking for your first job and are open to the technology stack that you will be using.
My final piece of advice is that a covering letter can go a long way. If you are applying for a position directly with a company this is an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself and make a good first impression. Make sure it is personable and doesn’t look like that you have copy and pasted a previous cover letter, it’s not very flattering for the employer and again you’ve just set an impression that you’re lazy. On the flattery point this is a great way to attract a potential employers attention., feel free to say why you find the position attractive and let them know why you have a genuine interest in working at their company as well as what you can bring to the table.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and more importantly I genuinely hope it helps you get your foot in the door.