Standing Out

After looking at more than a hundred profiles, most people could dramatically improve their chances of getting hired, or at least getting a foot in the door. This is a numbers game. The more companies they apply to, the higher chance they get selected. By putting a bit more effort into an application, I am confident that they would stand above most people.

This is not by any stretch a comprehensive list, but some pointers that do help:

  1. Tune your application to what you are applying. If the company is looking for a Full-Stack, showcase your experience across multiple stacks. Give examples of why you believe you are one. Rather than giving a generic view of your role in a particular company. This is a bit of work, to tune your CV for every company, but you can have a couple of email templates for: Full-Stack role and Backend role . You can keep your CV intact and draw attention in the application email, why you would be great for the role. Same for the Backend. What work have you done in the backend? What sort of scale have you dealt with? Sell yourself!
  2. Keep the CV small and tidy. A lot of people will disagree, but I am a firm believer of a one page CV. Leave descriptions for your most recent roles. Stuff older than 5 or 6 years, can still be there, but without any description. Highlight the work (specially with numbers, metrics and achievements) you have done in your 2 - 3 most recent roles. Do not, and I repeat, do not put any generic description below each role. Things like Shiped featuresFixed bugsMaintained the codebase is a filler. It’s uninteresting and boring. Any feature you have done, no matter how “simple and tedious”, can be seen as an amazing accomplishment. Make it look like so.
  3. Show enthusiasm. If you get to speak with someone, show that you are excited by the idea of working in that company. No one wants to work with someone that is tired even before starting. Countless times I see candidates looking bored even before I start speaking. This goes hand in hand with being curious. Candidates that are not enthusiastic about the role, are usually indifferent. Which leads to the last point.
  4. Ask questions, be curious! I have changed my stance on this from being a “red flag”, to being an automatic no. A candidate that doesn’t ask question, is likely a rejection. There are countless things you can ask: The roleThe companyThe future co-workersThe cultureThe TechWho are the usersHow does the company make money. It’s easy to spot when someone is making up things on the spot to ask, and who is genuinely curious. In a meeting of 30 minutes with me, I usually leave 10 to 15 minutes of questions, but I have in the past prolonged the interview to 1 hour. My favourite candidates are the ones that don’t just ask, but challenge certain things we do: I saw you this X thing, but how exactly does that work? or Why did you do X thing in your repo (part of our work is OSS). These are the people that standout.