Space Cat, Prince Among Thieves

Web Developer Resumé/Interview Advice

As Lead Developer at my previous company I interviewed many Developers. I wanted to provide some advice to Developers on how to come off more positively.

For the purposes of this post I, me and all other pronouns referring to myself refer to a hiring professional.

Some Basics Up Front

Google yourself. Google your email address, I will! There will be lots of Googling before you're hired. I am well versed in the darker Google arts, and odds are I will find you. If I don't find you, that's almost as detrimental as finding something fairly negative; you are interviewing for a Web related job, but don't have a presence on the Web?

I will look at your Facebook / Twitter if they're open to the public. This can actually be a very good thing if your posts are nerdy.

Try not to have the top result for your name be the police report for the night you spent in jail. This is strangely common in my experience. Demonstrate some SEO skills, buy! Do something to get that big red mark off the first page.

One of the most important things I can recommend is having a website. Not only will it ideally outrank your jail time on Google presuming your name's all over it, but ideally it's a technology website where you talk about experiences and things you've learned you want to share with others. This helps support your resume and your interview. This is very important, it brings substance to the game. It shows your interest in technology goes beyond making money. Also, lots of bonus points for not using Wordpress, I know it's tempting, but build something your self or use something more exotic. Any slob with a 56k can throw together a Wordpress site. Be sure to list it on your resume. I don't care how bad it is, fix it up, that's no excuse. If you have your name, or your email address or anything else I can surmise about you, I will find it. If I find it, I'll presume you were hiding it from me - and that doesn't come off well.

Have extracurricular code samples. Using Github or other similar service, and more importantly including a link on your resume not only shows a willingness to stand by your code, but show a versed knowledge of SCM. If you don't build things in your own time, you're not learning as much as you could be.

The best thing I can recommend is writing your own framework. All the best developers I know have at one time or another created their own framework. It is an amazing learning experience for you, and moreover it gives a huge amount of insight into the way you think, and the way you prefer to code

Resume Basics

Your resume exists to spark a conversation; it shouldn't be huge and it doesn't need every minute detail about every project you've worked on. If it goes over four pages odds are I'm not reading it all.

Leaving pieces vague helps me ask questions, which can help spark a conversation. Often the most important bits are in questions I didn't ask.

Be painfully consistent. Spelling/casing the same technology multiple ways reflects poorly on you. If you can't be consistent in your resume, what is to say you'd be consistent in your work?

Have the same name, address, email, and phone number on every document. Not only is inconsistency here really awkward when trying to contact you, but it helps me keep my notes on you organized. I may be interviewing several people that day and often these documents will be stacked on my desk between interviews.

Mention things you've built from the ground up. While framework knowledge is useful in places looking for an expert in a specific framework, ground up work demonstrates a broader depth of knowledge.

Don't send your resume as a .txt file. It's not cool.

Interview Basics

Always be on time, especially for a phone interview. Gathering people to make a call just for you to not pick up is infuriating.

When you are asked a question, elaborate! Go off on small tangents about why some piece worked or didn't. Smile devilishly and mention how something saved the day! That said, don't ramble, there is a fine balance. Don't spend minutes answering what should have been a several second answer.

Bring samples of work not included on your resumé. These are incredible talking points.

  • Be ready to identify what specific pieces you worked on.
  • Don't include very similar examples.

Ahead of time consider interesting challenges faced working on each, you will be asked. If the answer is none, it's probably not worth including.

Other Important Bits

Try to not be nervous. Easier said than done, but you don't need this job, or at least act like you don't. That's not to say be cocky - just that showing neediness as with a personal relationship, can scare people away.

Experience is far more important than education. Talk less about what you've done in school and more about what you've done professionally or even better on your own.

Don't drone on about wanting to work from home or needing quiet. Every developer is a bit of an introvert, but going on about it indicates problems working with others to come.

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