Career Nav #56: Hack Your Mobile Job Search
Tim Condon, Swift Developer from Manchester, UK, and one half of the Vapor Core team, part of the server-side Swift team at Kodeco and Founder at Broken Hands, and Jennifer Bailey, former Software Engineer and full-time professor at Aims Community College in Colorado, share tips and tricks from their co-authored book, “Hack Your Job Search.” They share some highlights from the book for anyone on a job search, no matter where you are in your career journey.
TC: When looking at the market, there are several different areas you can look at to find roles and to work out which roles are best for you. Most of you will already have an existing network that might be friends and colleagues from previous jobs or current jobs. Make the most of that network and leverage it to find jobs. A lot of jobs are word of mouth. If you have recruiters who are friends, conferences that you go to, meetups that you can meet people and most people, there will be hiring or looking for people. Make the most of that network and grow that network. When looking for jobs, it's essential to read the job description. Job titles tend to be quite fluffy. The job description is where it really gets into the roles you'll be doing and the job you'll be doing.
It might say that they're looking for a senior developer, but if you read the job description, that will range from junior to senior. Don't let things like the job title of a senior developer put you off from applying if you don't have that experience. It may be that you can go into a junior developer or an average developer. The job descriptions are a perfect way to discover the company's culture. We all have our preferences for what we like and don't like when working for companies. I don't like working for big companies because I don't like red tape, and I don't like being held back. Other people prefer the kind of structure and stability you get from working for big companies. If you work for big companies, you're more likely to be able to affect multiple people. If you work for small startups, your users might be much smaller.
It's a good idea to write down a list of things you're looking for both in a company and a job.
Write down the qualities that you want from those companies. It might be that you are looking for something remote only. You might be looking for something that works in a social or charity space. You might want a company with cutting-edge technology or the latest iOS versions. Write down the essential things and what you want to work on, and start looking for jobs that fit those descriptions. You can use those to match the job descriptions when searching for roles. This will allow you to find roles and jobs that suit you. It's doubtful that you'll get the first job you applied for. Don't be disheartened by that. Every job that you apply for is good practice and good experience. Ask for feedback, take the advice, and apply it.
JB: Another part of looking for employment starts with your cover letter and resume. Writing a pitch about why you want the job and what you can bring to the table is essential. You want to show your willingness to learn and be teachable in this cover letter. Get their attention based on your enthusiasm. Read it out loud and make it an excellent pitch. A tech resume is something that you can really personalize. Float your most relevant experience to the top and select categories that showcase your skills and experience. Show a consecutive track of employment and your most relevant experience towards the top. Have other people in your network and around you proofread your cover letter and resume and go over that with you.
Another element to applying for jobs is to have a portfolio. There are limitless ways to build portfolios. There's not necessarily a right or a wrong way, but the point of a portfolio is to put a sample of your skills. I consider it almost like a scrapbook of documenting your accomplishments. Include any code you do on the side, volunteer projects for your community, and clubs you might be a part of. Some of the more common ways of building a portfolio would be to use GitHub. Create an outstanding GitHub portfolio, and this is for the developers specifically. Put a couple of projects that you made your own on there. Even if they're straightforward, I recommend putting a nice readme markup. There are a lot of guides on the web to learn markup. You can illustrate a readme about each of your projects, and you can talk about what you learned. Then you can include a link to your GitHub on your resume. Even if it's straightforward code projects, if you're applying for a junior developer position, it gives you a chance.
Document it if you code in your spare time or for your community. You can't use it as part of your resume if you don't document it. As you're out in the world doing everything you're doing where you're learning or contributing, you can find a way to put that on your portfolio. Another common thing to use for a portfolio would be a personal blog. You can set up your domain. WordPress and LinkedIn will let you post on social media or use medium.com. You can set up a blog in various ways, a free tool like Blogger, or you can do videos if you like to record little videos and use something like YouTube or TikTok. There's no wrong way to build a portfolio. What you want is a convenient link that'll show them that these are the things that you are doing that are building your skills.
Build and cultivate your network. A network is a lot like a garden. You first meet people and plant some seeds, then want to follow up on them and cultivate them periodically. Anyone relevant in your network to things you're doing now, check in with them. I even set reminders that I need to follow up with this person I just met in two weeks. Otherwise, it's so easy to forget these experiences we're having out in the world and not follow up with people, and then you lose opportunities and track of them. I recommend setting reminders and keeping a list of who's in your network relevant to what you're doing right now.
TC: I think the network, your network, especially as you get more and more experience, is the most essential tool you have for job hunting and moving up and across the career ladder. As you get to the more senior and principal levels, almost everything is done via networking, Whether it's posting for friends saying, "Have you heard about anything?" Or putting stuff on Twitter if you have built a following or just meeting people at conferences. Build your network and take the plunge. Don't be worried about it because everyone's in the same position when they first start trying to build their network and meet people.