Few things to remember when you apply for a job as a developer

Adam Bartosiewicz
Sep 24, 2019 · 8 min read

Here at DocPlanner, we pay special attention to the recruitment process. When looking for a new member for the IT team, we look not only at their technical skills, but also motivation and values that they follow. Leading many recruitments over the past year and a half, I noticed that some candidates have difficulty clearly defining the reason why they decided to apply for a given position. It also happens that the CV sent to us highlights skills or experience not necessarily related to the position for which the candidate is applying. Below you can find a list of things that, we believe, are worth paying attention to, or which are worth considering before applying for a given position.

Before You Send Your CV

Sending your CV should be the second step to getting your dream job. In the first step, you should ask yourself two questions, which you will probably also hear during the interview.

Before the interview, it is worth learning something about the company you are applying to. The question “What do you know about us?” may not be asked directly, but during the meeting, there may be plenty of opportunities to show that you did not come there by accident. It is worth knowing something about the product or services that the company offers, its values, or the markets in which it is present.

By looking for information about a given company in as many sources as possible, you have the chance not only to come out better during the interview but above all answer the question whether you want to work there at all.

As DocPlanner, we are active on social networks, publish in Medium, and organize technology and business meetups. Thanks to these activities, everyone who would like to work with us has the opportunity to get to know us, our values, and our work culture. We encourage candidates applying to us to read our published materials precisely so that they can be sure that they are going to the place where they want to be.

There are at least two reasons why you should answer this question before you send your CV. The first is that you will almost certainly hear it during the interview. The second — in my opinion, more important — is that by answering this question you can find out for yourself whether you truly care about this particular position.

The work must be exciting and attractive to the person who performs it. Passion and curiosity are the two most important keywords — especially in the case of programming, where the pace of introduced changes and novelties is incredibly dynamic. In my opinion, the third such keyword is “pleasure.” It may seem like a truism that smells of cheap coaching, but it’s worth to like what you’ll do at least 40 hours a week.

Meanwhile, some candidates are not entirely sure whether they have chosen their career path correctly. They openly admit that applying for a given position is a way of checking how they find themselves in a given role. There is nothing wrong with looking for your path. However, it is worth remembering that the company that employs you does not necessarily want to be a testing ground. When submitting an offer to the candidate, we hope that our cooperation will be as long as possible. We believe that the person with whom we cooperate likes and has a passion for what they do. In my opinion, this is the right motivation that should guide you in choosing the position for which you apply.

It is worth looking at this issue from the perspective of the company that started a recruitment process. Is it worth to start cooperation with a person with two years of experience, but who looks burned out and beams with lack of enthusiasm? Or is it better to take a candidate who has just finished their apprenticeship, but regularly participates in meetups, is eager to swagger about the projects they recently did as part of the learning program, and you associate them with a programming group on Facebook?

Of course, I know that with time passed and experience gained, the meetups cease to be so attractive, and time spent with the family becomes more important than testing of the new framework. However, even programmers with experience can be passionate about their work. I know that because I see them every day in the teams I work with.

CV

All that’s left now is to prepare and send your CV. There is a tremendous amount of information on the web about the perfect CV. I do not intend to consider here the superiority of the one with the picture over the one without it, or what should be the order of the elements in the “Experience” section. I want to focus here on a few details, which in my opinion, significantly help to know the candidates and possibly decide to contact them.

First of all, while describing previous positions, it is worth to include information about the technologies which you use or had a chance to use in the past. Sometimes I read a CV in which the candidate boasts about the experience gained in 4 companies. In each of them, this candidate had the same position, which was a front-end developer, and for each, he or she provided similar job description — e.g., “Maintenance of the company’s website.” Finally, below this description, is a long list of technologies that this person knows (more about this in a moment).

It makes it difficult to determine whether the candidate has been using Vue.js for the last two years or two months. Perhaps he or she completed only a Vue.js online course and in the last company they used jQuery?

From my perspective, knowledge about the technologies used every day in the company where you work is extremely valuable. If you can, provide some more insight into the projects that you were working on, including technologies.

Skills alone can sometimes make us dizzy. To this day, I cannot understand what the percentage of a given skill means. “JavaScript — 50%”. So, you can solve 50% of the tasks performed in the current company, or maybe you have read 50% of the language documentation? On the one hand, it’s good, because you know Arrays, on the other, not so good, because to Objects there is still a long way to go… It’s obviously a joke, but it reflects the consternation that information “CSS — 30%” can cause.

If you decide to create a list of skills, do not be afraid to provide the most important ones with some additional commentary (e.g., “CSS — I use the BEM methodology and the LESS preprocessor,” “Vue.js — I created a SPA using Vuex and Vue Router.”) You can also indicate that you have commercial experience in a given field.

The last point that I would like to raise while discussing CVs are links to code repositories. Sharing the actual code is a great way to present your skills directly and it tells more about them than the best list in your CV. But if you decide to share the code, it is worth to review it beforehand and assess whether it is suitable for showing. Here is a list of things to look out for.

  • Putting the code in the repository. As funny as it may sound, I happened to browse repositories with empty projects, containing only readme files. Most probably, it resulted from the fact that the accounts were created only for recruitment purposes. Still, it’s hard to evaluate something that isn’t there.
  • Hosting your project. I’m not saying that every project should be available live, but sharing the code of your portfolio without without allowing the recruiters to see how it works is not the best idea.
  • Readability. What I mean is not only the readability of the code but also the readability of the project itself. It is worth trying to write a few words in the readme file. It’s also worth to create valid commit names. It is especially true for simple projects created by beginning developers. The project called “Vue.js Course” that has been forked or has only one commit does not say much about the progress made by its author. Just as little say four “Initial commits.”

Interview

Thanks to your great CV you are invited to an interview. In preparation for it, you learned that it is worth to smile, it is good to answer questions with more than one word, and eye contact should not exceed 60% of the conversation time. Is there anything else you need to remember? In my opinion, yes.

Photo: Michał Krawczyk

Each interview should consist of a time for the candidate’s questions. It is worth to use this time to get the information that is important for you, but you did not manage to find it in the offer or on the company’s website. If you know that you may not remember everything you want to ask during the interview, write down your questions beforehand.

Remember that the questions you ask during the conversation are critical to us because they allow us to get to know you better. Find out what you pay attention to at work and what is important to you.

Honesty is, in my opinion, the key component of a successful job interview and requires no special training. Why is it worth being honest? In the long run, it pays off for both candidates and the company that employs them. If you know that you need to improve your skills in a particular area, don’t hide it. If you do not admit it openly, you expose yourself to unnecessary stress and the company to potential delays or even losses. Being honest in this situation is a sign of the strength of character and additionally allows us, for example, to organize a refresher course as soon as you start work.

Trial Day

There are several ways of verifying candidate’s knowledge. In DocPlanner we invite the candidate to a trial day. During the trial day in our office, you get two tasks. One of them is to solve the problem presented to you by your buddy. The second, no less important, is to sense the work atmosphere in our company. It may include eating lunch with people from the team or taking part in the daily meeting. This is the best way to find out if working with us suits you and whether you will enjoy being in our office. You can find more about the trial day here.

Summary

The comments contained in this text will not give you a guarantee of getting your dream job. However, they can allow you to make a more informed decision about starting recruitment and prepare for it a bit better. What’s more, I think they can be useful to everyone, not just those who make their first steps on the labor market.

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Adam Bartosiewicz

Written by

Front-end developer at DocPlanner

Docplanner Tech

We are a group of people working in IT&Product teams in Warsaw and Barcelona building a product known in Poland as ZnanyLekarz/ in Spain as Doctoralia. Do you want to be updated, and receive some interesting insights? Sign up for our Newsletter: https://docplanner.tech/newsletter