When applying for your first job – cv + interview


These days the company I’m working for is searching to recruit a trainee web developer. As the senior developer at our company I was asked by my boss to go through the CV’s and short list the candidates. After shortlisting we asked them to come for a short interview. From the 100’s of CVs that we received and dozens of interviews that we conducted these are the things that I noticed and these are tips that I can offer to increase the chances of getting recruited.

CV

  • Qualifications – Most the of the CV’s that we received had all the life long certificates and courses and degrees listed. Most of these are not at all relevant to the advertised vacancy. For example If you have a degree all your other small certifications that build up to that degree become non relevant. So if you have a degree in Software Engineering the certificate you got from some obscure institute for computer literacy becomes worthless. So no need to list that. Also why do people keep listing all their Ordinary Level and Advance Level Qualifications? We don’t want to know that you got a C for social studies. Just list the subjects that you got A’s for and if possible limit that to Mathematics and English. Because listing these unnecessary qualifications you obscure or hide your most relevant qualifications.
  • Languages that you have studied – Another thing that I noticed is that most candidates list down all the computer languages that they have heard. The thing to note here is if you know one language well and if you have understood the programming concepts of that language it is really easy to apply that knowledge to another language. So if you say you know PHP really well, I get the idea that if we ask you to do a project in Java you will learn java syntax and apply the Programming concepts you learned for PHP and do a decent job. If you list totally different set of languages we assume that you don’t know even one language well. So limit your self to a one or two languages and learn them well.
  • Technologies – Most people list all the frameworks that they have heard about, but without any practical knowledge at all. So if your listing that you know PHP, limit the frameworks to PHP frameworks, and dont list all the PHP frameworks it is practically impossible to learn all the PHP frameworks. List the one that you know well. For me that framework is Yii and I have a project to prove that I know that framework really well. Also have some overall idea about the technology needed for that language/ framework to work. Ex: If its PHP you must have some idea about the LAMP stack. If its Java have some idea about Tomcat/Jboss etc.
  • Work Experience – It is tempting to list that 3 month internship you worked as an insurance broker for that famous company, but think for a moment what does being an insurance broker have to do with web development? Point here is to only list relevant work experience. But to show that you have some experience working at a company is ok but try to be relevant.
  • Projects – Please please list some projects that you have done. This will ensure that you get the job more than anything else. Even if its some small game that you created using JavaScript provide a link or at least bring it in a pen drive. This will show that you have the go that is required to do something on your own.

Interview

  • Smile – When your meeting new people the first impression counts. So please smile. Be relaxed. Its not the end of the world. just be your self. No one is going to scold you.
  • Read about the company – Before coming to the interview at least go to the company website and get an idea about what that company does.
  • Answer questions clearly. your mumbling wont help either of us. If its hard to talk in English speak in your native tongue as long as its understandable to the interviewer. We just want to know about you.
  • Show some enthusiasm about why your here. We are not trying to hand out a job right? so you should show that your willing to fight for this job. Be happy about the opportunity.
  • Keep out your personal struggles out of the interview unless asked. We don’t really care about how many problems you have. We are more interested in how you can help us solve our problems. Don’t look for sympathy, try to win over the interviewer with your knowledge (relevant knowledge)
  • Learn about the trending technology. If you come for a web development interview and if you haven’t even heard about WordPress or Joomla or Jquery you will be rejected for sure.  Simple things like subscribing to tech blogs will help you keep up-to-date.

I am not saying that I have done all the above items when I was looking for a job. Actually I made most of the above mistakes. But for some luck I managed to find jobs. But it was hard. And I tell you it doesn’t have to be hard. Now if I have to find a job I think I could do a better job. So if your just out of university and you want to find a job think about the above facts. Hopefully you can find a good job and demand a good salary. Wish you all the best on your job search. 🙂

Bonus

If your fresh out of university and if you don’t have any work experience, my advice is to go to top jobs or some job site. check out the most common vacancies and the technologies and qualifications that they demand and study up on those. I think one month should be enough to be proficient enough to apply for a job. Pick one technology and focus on it. You will find that people look for you to give jobs, than you going after jobs when you have mastered some area.

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