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Laying the ground for your career as a software developer

abiodunjames profile image Samuel James ・6 min read

Adlai Stevenson, an American politician made a statement many years ago and today I find it ever striking and applicable to all aspects of life. He said:

  • Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job

Getting your dream job can be easy as well as hard, who knows what life will throw at you when you definitely want a change. While there are many reasons people change or desire a new job, it's can still be summed up in: "change is inevitable" and whether we like it or not, there will be a point in time when our back is pressed against the wall and the desire to get that new job becomes higher than ever.

Surprisingly, change for the better is a full-time job. While I see nothing wrong with scrambling for jobs when you are in need of one with hundreds of candidates, I have come to understand there are things you can do to turn the odds in your favor. This involves taking conscious steps towards your career even when you are not hunting for jobs.

How do you position yourself for more jobs?

Have a career plan

No one wants to remain in the same position forever and this is why you need to plan your career. A career plan will you help you identify what your career goals are. You can not take charge of your advancement career-wise when you don't have a Goddamn plan written down.

Gayle LaakMann McDowell, in her book says: " a written career path will ensure that you understand, up front, how long you intend to be at a company and what you believe you’ll get out of it"

Not does it only motivate you towards your end goal but also helps you to take advantage of opportunities not seen by the majority.

  • Great careers don't happen by accident. Truly satisfying careers are the reward of talent, hard work, a bit of luck, and a strategy carefully managed and put to work -Joya Cousin"

Make Connections.

Don't wait till you need a job before you start making connections. Connection is a crazy bitch that works in unexpected manners. The chubby guy you met at a hackathon might be the guy that will get you to the door of your next great job.

I've once had a phone conversation with a stranger who thought I would be great for the company he worked for. I agreed to have a coffee with him even though I knew I was not interested in the opportunity. I wanted to meet his person, talk about technology and possibly connect. We had a nice conversation, he understood more about me and the type of opportunity I was interested in. Some few months later, he got me to the door of a company I was interested in.

Countless developers are still getting jobs through connections and you can too. If your goal is to work with company X, you better start connecting with people working with company X and start learning about the company. You can extend your interest to projects they are working on.

Making connections is not limited to conferences or tech meetups. You can also make connections with a decent profile on various social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all great platforms to connect with people you share similar interests with.

While it's important to have people with similar interests within your network; it's equally important to keep a handful of recruiters among them. They are the people that will facilitate your buy-in. You have the skills, recruiters can get you to the door.

Let your resume tells your achievements and not your job description

A decent resume is a very important element in a job search. Your resume determines whether you get called for an interview or not. Many developers failed at this point.

If you are anything like me some few years back, you would probably make a duplicate of your job description into the experience section of your resume. In fact, some developers waste substantial space on their resume with mundane things like date of birth, gender and even place of birth.

Please stop! Research has shown that recruiters spend less than 6 secs scanning resumes. You want to make your resume attractive as much as you can.

Employers want to see your achievements, not your job description. They are more interested in what you did than what you were told to do.

Let's examine this statement I picked from a developer's resume.

Drove productivity among team members

The question is how did he drive productivity? What was the outcome before and after he drove productivity? You'll likely find this in most resumes.

A better way to represent this would have been:

Drove team productivity and cohesiveness by conducting regular training which in turn increased revenue by $10 million in 6 months.

Always measure the impact of everything you do. Whether it's creating an algorithm that performs 10x faster or saving the company's millions of dollar by detecting and fixing a security bug that could have been exploited by cybercriminals.

Keep track of your achievements at your current job

Having a great resume or work experience is not enough and one of the worst mistakes you can make is not coming to an interview without your past achievements to sway your interviewers.

Interviewer's number one priority is to validate your potentials by listening to as you unravel your heroic achievements.

A lot happens in one's career and it easy to forget them if they are not documented. Keep track of your achievements and ensure you go through them before going in for an interview. Your achievements will not only allow you to see how valuable you are to your company but also comes handy during a performance review. Who knows you might finally get a raise! :)

Take time to craft your application

Most people throw their applications randomly at any job they see and hope for the best. I'm sorry to go against this paradigm: it does not always work this way. As success with anything is deliberate so is success with a job application. It's when you read a job's requirements and understand the business needs you can tailor your application to catch recruiters' attention.

There is no fast rule about it. Crafting a good application requires creativity and time. Most of the time, it flows naturally when you are genuinely interested in the role.

Don't just throw your application anywhere. Ensure you are a good fit and at least let it be a role you are interested in.

Recruitment is expensive and recruiters want to make sure right candidates are interested in the role as much as they are in having him. Recruiters don't like it when you pull off at die minute. It's a total waste of time for everyone. That is why questions like 'What are your motivations, why did you apply for this role, why do you want to relocate' are common in HR interviews.

Don't use a general/multi-purpose resume for all applications. Each application should have its own unique cover letter and resume tailored to it. I know you are probably fluent in 6 programming languages but you've got to cut that crap to what the job demands bruh. Recruiters value specialization

Before you send your application next time, try and put yourself in recruiters' shoes. If you were hiring for the position you are applying for, would you have found your application deserving a call for an interview?

Create a personal blog

I can not stress enough the importance of having a personal blog as a developer. I can assure you 9 out of 10 recruiters will check your personal blogs before inviting you in. Why? It's the best way to know more of you from afar. Your interest, your tech stack and what your experiences look like. Believe me, recruiters just kinda have some deep feelings for this thing, man. Go create one. They are many free content management systems (CMSs) that won't take a bunch of your time to set up.

Conclusion

You are probably going to fail a couple of times before you finally land your dream job. Do not be disturbed. Success is wrapped in failure most of the time. Trust the process and learn from your mistakes. Track your applications. This includes your resume, cover letter, the company, position, responses and feedback you get from them. With time, you will see a pattern that clearly indicates what you should improve on. Huntr is a good app you can use to keep track of your applications.

Do you have a comment? Please shoot. You want to connect? I'm happy to meet you on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Discussion (8)

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around25team profile image
Around25 • Edited

The issue can be tracked as far back as to the internship application. As a team of fullstack developers, we're seeing hundreds of applicants who don't pay attention to the details. Yes, it's 'just an internship', but it can be very telling, you can usually spot the ones who, in the long term, consider a similar approach to what you described in the article. The ones who don't, will most likely struggle throughout their career.
As a matter of fact, we see so many faux pas every year, that one of our technical managers even wrote down a rough guideline :))) around25.com/blog/internship/

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abiodunjames profile image
Samuel James Author • Edited

I agree with you. I think some people don't know there are other non-coding skills that can make a whole lot of difference in one's career. The bad part is: these skills are not taught in schools.

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kovah profile image
Kevin Woblick

Nice writeup Samuel!

About that blog thing: only start one if you know that you will put up articles / posts on a regular base. I think if you have a blog, filled with 10 entries, last from 2016 the recruiter may not be that interested anymore. If you don't have the time or motivation to maintain a blog in the long term, do not start one.
I would mention that in the post.

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abiodunjames profile image
Samuel James Author

Thank you @kovah ,

That was a good point you raised. It's better for one not to start a blog if it won't be maintained. It can work to your disadvantage as you have stated.

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itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla)

A career plan will you help you identify what your career goals are. You can not take charge of your advancement career-wise when you don't have a Goddamn plan written down.

My plan: To continue to exchange increasingly good results for increasing currency 😜

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abiodunjames profile image
Samuel James Author

Haha! That is hilarious. I wish you well. :)

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thegreytangent profile image
thegreytangent

Nice article bro !

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akohrr profile image
Akohrr

Really nice article with very important information. Instead of having a blog, one could just use Medium or even dev.to. do you think they would be a good substitute for having a blog?