Job Hunting in 2017: Web Development

“The average number of people who apply for a job posting is 118. Twenty-three of those applicants get called in for an interview. And of course, only one gets the job.” – How To Ace the Post-Interview Thank You Note

Yes, you have to have your web portfolio and a resume ready. Perhaps you have double checked it inside out, including considering the 12 Things Web Developers Must Include in Their Portfolios and have referred to 41 of the Best Resume Templates Ever. You are aware of imposter syndrome, and are still confidently moving ahead, letting your work shine and show your best. You are mentally prepared, and even know the 5 Interview Moves That’ll Go Over Better Than Trying to Sell Yourself.

But there’s more to the job search than that! The job hunt of 2017 for a web development job is far more contemporary than even a few years ago. Expect to mainly be contacted via email rather than telephone for quite a bit of the communication. Additionally, might also find yourself receiving your first points of contact through video via Skype or Google Hangout as well. Here is an overview of some things to keep in mind as you job hunt.

Digital Interviewing Skills

Being such a new technology, don’t be caught by surprise and unprepared!

“From enhancing your sound quality to making sure your body language sends the right message on that small screen, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your digital presence is as professional and polished as your IRL persona.” – The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview

Colors Matter

“While you want to dress professionally (again, from head to toe, not head to waist), don’t just pull out any old interview outfit—take care to make sure what you’re wearing works for video. “Certain colors, like many shades of blue—royal, navy, sky blue—look great on video, while others like reds and hot colors like magenta can be too bright,” says job search expert Alison Doyle.” – The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview

The “Digital Handshake”

Just like your in-person interviews, first impressions really matter. “The first five seconds will make or break your digital interview,” says Bailo. “It is those few seconds, when the hiring manager sees you and you see the hiring manager that the digital chemistry is created. That is when this person hopefully thinks, ‘I like what I see, I want to engage in this digital conversation.’”

The first step to creating that digital chemistry? What Bailo calls a “digital handshake.” Think a “slow, confident, professional, firm nod” with “a slight shoulder bend and eyes forward—the other person should not see the top of your head.” When you can’t physically greet the hiring manager, this simple gesture shows that you’re excited to be there and ready to get down to business.

From then on, focus on keeping your eyes on the camera—not on the view from your screen. “Your eyes need to look straight into the camera, so it appears on the other end you are looking right at the other person,” says Bailo. His tip? “Try downloading a photo of the hiring manager, printing it, and making a hole in the photo to allow the camera lens to see through. Now you can look at the photo, which makes it more human to conduct your digital interviews.” (Just keep it small—you still want to be able to see your screen!)

The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview

How to Act

“Someone I was Skype-interviewing with was so motionless, I thought for a while the screen was frozen,” a colleague recently shared with me. Lesson learned: Make sure your body language expresses that you’re engaged and, well, alive. “As you’re communicating, lean forward,” suggests Bailo. “This will show interest and concern and will engage your audience. It will also convey eagerness and willingness to listen.” – The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview

“Look at the camera, not the screen. It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.” – 13 tips for nailing a Skype interview

“Don’t be afraid to help yourself with post-it notes or a copy of your resume handy when you interview. A benefit of having a Skype interview is that you can have a cheat sheet in front of you so that you don’t have to memorize everything you want to mention.” – 13 tips for nailing a Skype interview

“Make sure the interviewer is engaged. Stop every once in awhile and make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a Skype interview since they may have interesting e-mails pop up that direct attention away from you.” – 13 tips for nailing a Skype interview

Sound Equipment

Bailo, a digital marketing technology executive and author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook, mentions the importance of good sound for a video interview as well and “…recommends upgrading your mic, which will make sure that every word you say is heard loud and clear. ‘Blue makes an outstanding product specifically for interviewing called the Snowball—you are going to love it and sound fantastic!'” – The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview

This Snowball brand is definitely worth looking into. For the price, it is both affordable and easy to use. Additionally besides high quality sound, one can consider an even more incredible back drop for a video interview, by making your own Skype Studio.

Rehearse It

“Practice makes perfect. Doing a run through interview with a friend beforehand is helpful because your first few Skype calls are likely to feel awkward, especially if you have to retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen. Play around with everything beforehand so that when it’s interview time, you can shine without being distracted by the program.” 13 tips for nailing a Skype interview

When it comes to actually imagining a web development interview, Skillcrush provides a very helpful pretend interview that covers some of the things you might be asked. The speaker answers confidently as a professional in the industry:

The Importance of a Thank-You Note

“Your interview isn’t over until you send a thank you note.” – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Thank You Notes – The Muse

Be fast about sending a thank you note after an interview. Also, this letter is not at all optional and without one you could even lose your chance for being considered for the job:

“Not sending a timely thank you really can make or break you. In fact, CareerBuilder found that nearly one third of hiring managers would think less of a candidate if they didn’t send a thank you note after an interview.” – How To Ace the Post-Interview Thank You Note

Timeliness of your thank you note is really everything. A whopping 86% of hiring managers feel that the lack of a timely thank you shows that a candidate lacks follow through . You want to stay fresh in your interviewer’s mind, and reinforce the positive impression you left on him or her sooner rather than later. Your thank you note should be sent on the same day that you had your interview. Ideally, within a few hours after the interview.

Don’t get it twisted – sending your thank you note as you’re walking out the front door of the interview is definitely too eager. But sending an hour or two after your interview has ended is completely appropriate.

How To Ace the Post-Interview Thank You Note

Personalize It

“Do share something memorable from your interview. Share what really resonated for you during your interview. This could be something that your interviewer said, or something you gathered about the company in the interview or job description, and how it aligns with you as a candidate. Anything you can do to stay memorable in your interviewer’s mind will put you one step ahead of the other candidates.” – How To Ace the Post-Interview Thank You Note

So in review, here are the 3 rules for Thank You notes while job hunting:

  1. Send one. Always.
  2. Send it fast.
  3. Make an impact.

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Thank You Notes – The Muse

Unsure of what to say? Use Alex Cavoulacos’ thank you note template.

Types of Interviews

Initially, the two first point of contact may consist of a phone screening that resembles an interview:

“While there are a near-limitless number of possible tasks that could be asked of you during the technical phone screen, the common link between them all is for you to demonstrate a basic understanding of coding and development principles. You might be asked to write a simple method in JavaScript, stylize an HTML document in CSS, describe common data structures, explain object-oriented concepts and so on.” – How to Ace the Web Developer Job Interview – The Ultimate Guide

After this, something called a behavior interview might be administered. It might be over the phone, in person, or both:

“A behavioral interview involves questioning you in such a way as to learn about your typical behavior in past situations. In many cases, with candidates who are just entering the job market, there is very limited past experience, so the questions may be more geared toward the psychological reactions to theoretical scenarios (for example, “Describe an instance where you were facing a particularly difficult development problem and what steps you took to work through that issue.”)” – How to Ace the Web Developer Job Interview – The Ultimate Guide

Meet the Team Interviews

Perhaps similar to a screening interview, there is a type of interview that involves just meeting your potential coworkers. This approach can save time and resources because you meet the entire group all at once. Reddit has a really good post on the matter and above all, the  most important thing to keep in mind no matter what form the interview takes, is that every interaction you have with a company you’re potentially working for is an interview.

Take-Home Assignments

For web development, it is not uncommon to be given a test or a sample assignment.

“Some companies include a coding challenge as part of the interview process since they can be predictive of a coder’s future success and lets interviewers see a candidate’s skills in practice. They can take as little as fifteen minutes to complete, on up to a few hours. While this may be intimidating to think about, it’s actually a great opportunity to showcase your skillset.” – How to Ace the Web Developer Job Interview – The Ultimate Guide

Two really important points are covered in Newsweek’s article entitled “Here’s What the Hiring Manager’s Actually Looking For in That (Dreaded) Take-Home Assignment”:

Don’t Agonize Over Finding the “Right” Answer

If you haven’t been hired yet, you shouldn’t be expected to know all the nitty-gritty details about a company. And hiring managers know this!

Sure, the assignment is a great way for the company to see how you would address a real business problem, but it would be unrealistic to expect even the most qualified candidates to present a solution that could be implemented immediately. Again, I can’t reiterate this enough: The person who assigned this is completely aware of that fact!

And because of this, you shouldn’t stay up late focusing only on getting the “right” answer. Odds are, there isn’t only one right answer.

Depending on your expertise, this might manifest itself in a number of ways. If you’re a programmer who’s being asked to write some sample code, the hiring manager is going to be way more interested in how quickly you identify the mistakes you’ve made. And before you say, “Well, I won’t make any mistakes,” don’t worry, you will. The same goes for those of you who are writers, marketers, or sales people. You will mess up somewhere in the assignment.

Here’s What the Hiring Manager’s Actually Looking For in That (Dreaded) Take-Home Assignment –

Don’t Psych Yourself Out

How many times have you looked at the email outlining the requirements and thought to yourself, “If I can’t do this, how would I possibly excel in the actual job?”

Here’s the thing, though: If you weren’t capable of doing the job, you wouldn’t have been sent home with it in the first place.

In fact, the take-home assignment should actually be a huge boost to your confidence. When you’re asked to complete one, it’s a clear indication that the hiring manager’s excited to see how you’d tackle a problem similar to one the organization’s been dealing with. In other words, the company’s struggled with the issue in the past and would love to hear your input!

Here’s What the Hiring Manager’s Actually Looking For in That (Dreaded) Take-Home Assignment –

Ultimately, don’t spend too much time on the assignment. You’re not being paid for it, so it should not be treated like an actual work assignment. It is more like a sample of your work. For a graphic image of how your behavior, read about the colorful story about the programmer that should have been hired “on the spot” simply because of how he behaved during his test. For more on approach and cautions to take concerning a job assignment, see The Muse’s article entitled: What Every Job Seeker Should Know About Work Assignments During the Interview Process

Job Hunting Nightmares

Scams and phony job offers have always been around, but the latest way they tend to rear their ugly head is in the form of recruiters. So if you receive a call from one and they give you a bad feeling, that uncomfortable reaction is probably quite real:

First of all, funny enough, most developers seem to agree recruiters are (with a few exceptions) horrible people. Their only focus usually is money, not making the connection between a person and a company that seem to be a good fit.

I agree with the above. There are a few exceptions, people who really do care about the people that they represent as well as the companies they represent, but I’ve dealt with too many recruiters that:

  • alter CVs
  • send 10 CVs to a company at once
  • send random e-mails to everyone in their database, regardless of any matches in skills vs requirements
  • actually call people at work to try and get them to change jobs

And that list can go on and on and on.

Finding a job without a recruiter

One Last Thought

This one comes from personal experience. Check your spam folder. For every openly fake email job recruiter sending out messages to people, there might actually be a gem hiding in your inbox but the email provider directed to the wrong place. 😉