I’ve been a software developer for 20 years. After that, I became a Recruiter.
Please don’t hate me?
After all that time as a programmer and the variety of roles I worked in and interviewed for, I thought I knew it all. I was wrong. I knew nothing.
Working in a fast-paced recruitment team opens your eyes. You see how others view your profile. How little time they spend on it, what they’re looking for and why. It’s quite shocking and immensely valuable information if you’re in the jobs market.
So, what do I mean by the overly attention-seeking title of this article? [Editor’s note: HEY, I like this title!]
To get there, I need to walk you through a real-world scenario and by the end I hope you’ll see why it’s sadly true.
You have a few years of experience under your belt already, so your résumé and LinkedIn profile are trivial to complete. Application submitted, you sit back and taste the crispness of that cold beer you just opened.
Firstly, you probably spent more time on your CV than your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is too rigid and you wanted the freedom to express yourself. Most recruiters will read your LinkedIn first and only read your CV if they believe you are of interest and worth of more of their time.
It’s more efficient for them to stick to the standard format that LinkedIn provides. Trying to locate specific information in a variety of CV formats is exhausting.
Back to LinkedIn, you didn’t want to pigeonhole yourself, so you kept your options open. You started with a headline like “Software Developer“.
This is mistake number 2. The decision not to specify your expertise means you are relying on the Recruiter to read further, just to find out if you’re even skilled in React.
That’s a bold move considering they might have hundreds of other applicants that do define themselves as front-end developers specializing in React!
Let’s assume the recruiter is feeling kind and moves on to your About section. Do you help them out here? Do you define your skillset and chosen career path? Probably not.
You’ve probably taken this opportunity to express how you want to save the world, one line of code at a time and how you’re dedicated to producing software that enriches the lives of others?
Fabulous, but nobody cares.
Too many people are saying the same thing and if there’s no evidence to back it up, they are seemingly empty words.
The Headline and About section are the best friends of recruiters. They are the first port of call in helping them make decisions about whether it’s worth their time to keep reading. This first read through happens in under 10 seconds.
It’s like Tinder for jobs. If you’re not in the pile of candidates who got a swipe right on the first pass, it’s likely your résumé will never even get a read.
Not to worry, you’re an experienced developer. Your application can be resurrected by the power of the Experiences section alone. This is true if the recruiter ever gets there.
Sadly, this is where most developers put the final nail in the coffin. What you need to consider is what is the recruiter looking for?
They want to establish whether you are, in fact, a front-end developer and once this is confirmed they need to answer three questions (remember, we’re talking about a React position).
When did you start using React?
Are you currently using React?
How frequently have you been using React between points 1 and 2?
When developers write “Software Developer” as their job title, it’s hard for the recruiter to know what you were doing whilst in that role.
Were you front end, back end or full stack focussed?
They’re going to have to read through the narrative you placed under the job title. You did write something there, right? Many people don’t and that is game over.
However, if you did write something, did you make it easy for the recruiter to establish their answers to the above questions?
Let me guess, you wrote another chapter in your novel about saving the planet?
The recruiter must wade through the incoherent ramblings to try and find out if you’re worthy of an interview.
Well, in today’s market, with the number of applicants for every role, it’s unlikely that will happen. You’ll get a swipe left and they will only come back to you if every other candidate fails the paper sift or even the interview.
So, who gets the job?
The developer who presents themselves in the best way will get the job. The best developer may not even get an interview.
This is where many developers beg for my trust and ask that I put them forward for the role or even hire them. They then promise to prove to me how good they are. Sadly, it’s too late, I’m afraid.
I have hundreds of other applicants and very limited time. I have to go with those developers that give me confidence that it’s going to be worth an hour of my time to interview them in order to find out more.
The good news is the fix to this will only take you a few minutes and in my experience, the results are quite dramatic. So, if you’re not getting enough interviews, forget learning another algorithm, the problem is far simpler and closer to home!