How to Get a Job as a Developer
In a keynote talk at All Things Open 2015, Pam Selle gave advice on how developers should job hunt. Spoiler alert: it's not cover letters, resumes, and applications.
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Getting a job isn’t easy, and if you’re a developer, I’ve got bad news: the market’s incredibly competitive. Fortunately, the good news (which I saved for last), is that there’s a decent market for opportunities. In a keynote from All Things Open 2015 in Raleigh, NC, Pam Selle provided job advice to devs. More specifically, Selle offered insight into how to get your next job as a developer.
Contrary to what you might think, Selle is not a recruiter, but rather a software engineer. However, this logically makes sense, as her technical background likely makes her a better candidate to offer career tips. According to Selle, we don’t have a talent shortage, but rather a drought of talent able to find the right job. The issue is more that employers aren’t willing to fairly compensate their potential employees fairly.
There’s not evidence of a shortage of technical talent, there’s a shortage of people able to find technical talent at the price they’re willing to pay.
To analyze this conundrum, Selle turned to the actual hiring process. The advent of the Internet vastly opened up the applicant pool. Thus online applications, and job apps in general, have actually been devalued. Selle elucidated that applicants measure the success of applying for jobs by number of apps sent off. This isn’t really a fair standard since, well, everyone else is operating under the same philosophy, and therefore recruiters are inundated with a deluge of resumes and cover letters.
The primary challenge of today’s job market is reaching employers. The answer isn’t sitting behind a computer screen and clicking send on an application. Instead, Selle opted to suggest an alternate plan. It’s dubbed “Beyond the Resume.” Success isn’t directly proportial to applications completed; instead your focus should be on searching for jobs where you’ll be able to flourish. Selle’s three step process is as follows:
Hunt for targets
Make the first contact
Nail the interview
Employment first requires figuring out what you’re searching for in a job. Selle suggested starting by listing your skills. Then, write out what you DON’T like doing, and actively seek to avoid those. That way, your next job places you in a position where you’ll be happy. It’s a mind shift from what you’ve done to what you will do. Lastly, Selle implored developers to seek out companies, and often great starting points are companies that sponsor conferences. Usually, sponsorship and community support means businesses value relationships and connections.
Selle’s excellent advice isn’t relegated to the developer world. In fact, it’s simply wonderful for job hunters in any discipline. Further, she recommended reaching out to folks you know at companies and asking a question like “Hey, I’m interested in talking to someone at your company about a role there, what’s the best way to do that?” What you’re not doing is simply landing on the “Careers” page. We’ve all been there, and how many times has that led to a position? Rarely, but sometimes it works.
To conclude her keynote, Selle ended with two pieces of advice for beasting interviews:
For the love of God, do not name a number first
Tell a story, and when in doubt stop talking
Check out her forthcoming book Beyond the Resume over on GitBooks. Got some career advice of your own? A success story? An utter failure? Leave a comment, and let us know! Happy job hunting.
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