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Tips for job applicants

I'd like to share a couple of tips that might be helpful for you when applying to jobs.

Bear in mind that the tips down below are based on my experience and also related to they way I usually go through the list of applicants.

The tips are mostly related to specific points or visual clues that would draw my attention to a candidate's application.

Let's go!

Some code samples created by yourself

A Github/Gitlab/Bitbucket/Personal website with some code samples written by yourself are usually useful.

For instance, if a candidate shared a Github profile, I'd go there and filter the source repositories and I'd take a look. If the filter result is empty, that's already something that would raise some concern.

A code sample helps the hiring manager to understand:

  • How do you write your code.
  • How do you structure it.
  • How do you write tests (After the README, the second thing I look: The test folder. 👀)

Note: I rarely run the solution though, and I think nobody does 😊

Real working/running project examples

A live project of yours always give a nice touch to your application, especially for technical positions.

If you're a backend person, an API that you may have created that is actually hosted somewhere with good API docs, even if small, is a nice thing to see.

If you are a frontend person, a nice UI that I could actually see, your personal website maybe, would be certainly something that would draw my attention and would make me invest a bit more time on your application 🕵️

I'll be looking mostly for:

  • The quality of what you did. No matter the size of the application, was it done with care?
  • How did you design it.
  • Creativity/Fun.
  • Technologies used.
  • Where and how was it deployed.

Things you shared should be working

Make sure what you share, links to profile, pages, applications are working. There's a good chance I'll visit them. 🕵️

Clicking on something and reach a broken link doesn't feel good. Would you like it?

Photos or your age

Please, don't. And companies that are still asking candidates for such information should stop doing it.

I don't care and I personally don't like to seem photos or your age in job applications.

It may right away create some sort of unconscious bias, that we all have by the way, let's not pretend we don't, and this could play negatively against your odds.

If the company you're planning to apply requires a CV with photo and your age, I recommend you to think think twice before applying anyway.

A CV without work experience

Unless you're applying for an entry level position, a CV without work experiences related to the job or field you're applying for would be a NO-GO for me. I've no crystal ball 🔮.

A CV with lot's of personal projects

I'd avoid adding lots of personal projects to your CV, one or two amongst the most recent or relevant ones would be ok. But a long list won't help anyways your application, specially if they are just tutorials or hello-worlds.

A good looking CV helps

Of course it depends on the type of job you're applying to, but in general, I believe that a good looking CV has higher changes to attract the attention of the hiring manager.

It doesn't need to be an art work, especially for dev positions, but your CV should look presentable and organized.

I personally like clean CVs. I don't give much attention to colors, crazy designs, badges, etc. A well structured black-and-white CV would be very efficient to me. Helps to speed up the process and the more standardized they are in terms of appearance and structure, the more efficient and less stressful the job of the hiring manager will be.

The thing is. A poorly prepared CV represents for me, and perhaps for other hiring managers as well I believe, a certain lack of care and it's already some sort of red flag for the applicant.

Cover letters

I personally always read them. If you put an effort to write some words to present yourself, the minimum I can do is read it in respect of your the time you put to write it.

For me, a few words about yourself, why you're applying, why do you think you're a good fit and what would be the benefits for both sides if you turn to work in the company is super helpful to understand where you're coming from, what you plan to bring to the table, and where you're planning to go.

It's also interesting to understand if you thought about yourself working at that position at that company and how that would look like.

Some tips:

When you write "I am very much interested to work with you.", it's interesting to also write the reason why you are so interested.

A two paragraph size would be optimal. More than that might not be necessary. I'd recommend reviewing and summarizing just the important information in your cover letter.

Note: Some jobs or companies will requires a more formal cover letter. I'm not talking about this type of cover letter. I'm talking about the more informal ones. The ones we usually see in tech related jobs in the majority of companies out there.

I am personally not much interested at the beginning at information such as hobbies, sports you do, etc. I think those will be explored later on during the process. No need to write then in your cover letter.

Golden rule: Add the more relevant information first.

If you applied, it's obvious that you're looking for a job. Don't waste precious space writing that in your cover letter.

I've read this sentence many times:

"I've keen interest in software development"

I even wrote it some times in my past job applications.

Today I think it's not super relevant anymore. What does that mean exactly? Perhaps a project or a code sample would tell this story better.

If you're applying to a position that is different from your current position, explaining that in your cover letter is important. It could help me to understand your motivation and not discard your application due to a misfit for the position.

Last but not least, the tools that support hiring process, at least the ones I used so far, they have a logic on how they display the information, and usually the cover letter part comes before your CV.

If you don't write anything in your cover letter, and I reach your CV, and I look that you're a manger applying to a backend position, it might be that I'll not give much attention to your application as I'd do for someone that matches the position better especially when there are many candidates.

I think that's all for now. If you feel this could help someone else, please share it. 🙏

And finally, I wish all the best for your future applications! If you read this until this point, thank you very much for your time and I hope it was helpful somehow.

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