What You Need To Know About Holidays and Sickness

Everyone gets stick right? And it’s not unreasonable that you’re going to want to spend some time off to go on holiday (current Covid situation aside). All companies have slightly different procedures for managing absence, in this post I’m oing to talk about my experience over the majority of UK companies. Your company will almost certainly be slightly different, those are the differences you need to understand during your first fiew days.


Nobody wants to get sick, but it does happen. In my experience most companies in the UK which hire software developers will have a certain number of paid days of sick leave. This is often not contractual, but layed out in a handbook somewhere. How many days varies massively from company to company and it’s often worth trying to understand ahead of time.

Almost every company I have ever worked for expects you to call your manager if you wake up feeling too sick to work. Some are happy with a message but you should always understand what these procedures are before the inevitable day when you wake up full of cold and can’t drag yourself into work.

Everyone gets sick, but it’s worth understanding your company’s procedures before you do. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Many companies use a system called The Bradford Factor to assess sickness. This is a calculation which calculates a score. Companies often have a threshold of what score they’re willing to accept before they stop paying sickness days. It’s worth being aware that the system weights number of occurrences far more severely than number of days. So someone taking every Monday off sick because they’re feeling a bit hung over would score far higher than someone who caught a nasty bug and was off for a week. I should stress very clearly though – sickness policies are a benefit designed to support employees who genuinely aren’t feeling well so they don’t feel financialy pressured into spreading germs around the office. They’re not free days off because you’re feeling a little worse for wear after a late night.

Planned surgeries and procedures are often handled slightly differently and you should discuss what options are available. Some companies may support you. Others may ask you take some (or all) of the time as holiday.

One of your tasks in the first week at your new company should be to understand exactly what the policy for sickness is.


Let’s assume that coronavirus is a thing of the past and we’re all flying around the world to ski and relax by swimming pools.

Most UK companies offer a number of paid days off. You are legally entitled to Bank Holidays (or a substitute day) and will often have a number of days which you can book whenever you wish. In the UK the minimum is 28 days, but you should expect that 8 of those are the bank holidays. However, some companies may offer 25 + 8 or even more. It’s not uncommon for employees’ holiday allowances to increase the longer they remain with a company. It’s worth remembering that you take 5 days off each week as most software companies don’t work weekends.

When this virus is over we can all go back to enjoying holidays we enjoy. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Usually you have to book holidays and have them approved by your line manager. It’s usually good etiquette to give as much notice as possible. The typical rule is to give as least as much notice as the time you’re intending to take but personally if you’re planning on taking a week or more I’d encourage you to give as much notice as warning. It’s rare for managers to refuse holidays unless there’s a good reason, especially with lots of notice.

A few final points – always make sure you understand when the holiday calendar starts and finishes (your first year’s holidays will probably be pro-rata’d). If you can carry over any untaken holiday into the next year and if there are any conditions, and what the company’s rules are over Christmas time. It’s not uncommon for offices to shut and companies require employees to save several days of holiday for the gap between Christmas and New Year.

Hopefully this has been helpful and has given you an idea of what to expect. As I said at the beginning of the post expectations will vary from company to company and hugely as you move around the world. I can only speak about my experience in the UK. You should always try and understand the sickness and holiday policies of your company as soon as possible. Before joining ideally, but for various reasons it’s probably not something I’d ask in an interview – perhaps a good question for a recruiter?

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Dealing With Rejection

An unfortunate part of any interview process is rejection. Unless you’re very lucky you’re going to be turned away from more opportunities than you’re offered. Especially when you’re trying to make a particuarly large leap – such as the one from student to professional.

In an attempt to gather some good advice for people who have been rejected from a role I reached out to my LinkedIn network. Not because of any lack of experience on my part but because there are probably people out there who handle it better than I do (seriously the sulking isn’t a good look for anyone).

If you’re on LinkedIn (and if you’re not I strongly recommend you join) then have a read of the question here. However, I wanted to capture some of the advice I got in this post.

Ask for feedback, one of the most important parts of a successful DevOps culture is getting, understanding and implementing feedback into everything we do.

Connect with people, by making connections in the industry we can gain more insight into what goes on in the company you were rejected by.

Apply again, if you can demonstrate you have improved why wouldn’t a potential employer want to interview you again


I used to work with Kurt and he’s a good guy. He’s also a DevOps evangalist and hired lots of people himself. I think this is great advice, we’re in an industry where we gather feedback and respond accordingly. Why not do this with your own career? Listen to what the feedback was from the company, look at any weaknesses they highlight and use them to drive your next stage of learning. Kurt wasn’t the only person to stress the importance of taking feedback on board.

A lot of what we do is iterative: try to analyse your performance and work out where you didn’t fully elaborate on something you may feel was obvious or forget to emphasise a key challenge or innovative solution. Assume that people will understand the language you use but not necessarily the details of a technology or situation.

Practice will make talking about yourself, to new people and about your achievements and approach easier.

Being rejected for a role is never easy. However, it can be extremely useful. Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Don’t take it personally. Mope for a day, dust yourself off and don’t get discouraged. Work on any areas you got the negative feedback on (appreciate you don’t always get any). It might just simply be that another candidate just pipped you to the post. If there is only one role, someone is going to lose out and a client will have to nit pick in order to select someone. The worst part of my job is declining someone after an interview, especially if I know they really want it.

Simone from Solo Search

I’ve worked with Simone before and she really knows her stuff. She also understands that sometimes it can be very difficult to seperate clients and sometimes it comes down to things like team fit and how they performed on a single question in the interview. Not every rejection is a huge blow, you never know just how close you were to getting that offer. Don’t get disheartened!

Rejection is rubbish, there’s no two ways about it. But one person saying no does not mean you’re at the end of your journey. Keep going and keep learning! Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

You can drive yourself nuts worrying what you did wrong and the chances are it wasn’t anything that, on a different day, would have mattered.


Philip echoed this sentiment. Sometimes it’s the smallest things which seperate the successful candidate and the ones who were rejected. Don’t assume that you were nowhere near because you may have very well been a close second.

It’s a bit like asking someone on a date – not everyone is going to say yes, and often they’ll have reasons for doing so that range far beyond “you’re not good enough” or “we don’t like you”.

It can just mean you’re not exactly what the company is looking for at the time – they may be looking for something slightly different next time.


However, I’ll leave you with an optimistic idea from Nick. He says:

Being rejected from one role gives you the opportunity to accept another that may be better. You may miss out on a job that you thought you would love and end up with one you actually do


Assessment Centres and Remote Interviews

I’ve written quite a lot over the last few weeks about interviewing and recruitment. Howevever there are a couple of other recruitment techniques I want to mention in an effort to prepare you.

The first of these is assessment centres.

Recruitment takes a lot of time and effort. When you’re recruiting a pool of people, for example a number of junior engineers all at once or perhaps an entire team. It becomes more efficient to combine these into a single recruitment event rather than conducting individual interviews with each candidate.

Assessment Centres are when multiple candidates are invited in together. Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Aside from the time saving opportunities this also gives the assessors a few opportunities such as seeing how you can undertake a group task and how you interact with people througout the day. Far from being daunting these can be a lot of fun and often give you much more chance to talk to existing members of staff and compare notes with other candidates.

Many people see the other candidates in their assessment centres as the competition, and this is true to a point. After all, there are often only a limited number of vacancies available. However, you should be careful of this mindset. One of the reasons for putting candidates together is to see how they work together and engage with potential peers. If you’re in super competitive mode you’re not going to demonstrate your team work skills to their full potential.

Assessment Centres can take many forms and have many different components. When I’ve run assessment centres we’ve done a presentation to the candidates to tell them about the company and the role, tours of the office, interviews, a written test, a group activity, and a meet and greet where we’ve invited existing employees down to meet the candidates. Try to relax and enjoy the experience as much as possible. It’s a long and exhausting day – but you’ll get a lot out of it.

Another type of interview which has exploded since Covid-19 started rampaging across the globe is the video call interview.

Remote interviews have become extremely common since the global pandemic. Photo by Vanessa Garcia on Pexels.com

With isolation and social distancing the norm today it can be extremely difficult (and unwise) to meet candidates face to face. Because of this many companies are doing video calls to interview candidates.

The rules for a video call are not that different to a regular interview however I will run through a few of the basics for you.

  • Always arrive on time, test technology beforehand if possible and make sure you have a contact number for the company should IT let you down.
  • Consider what you’re wearing. A suit and tie is probably not essential for an interview at home but maybe a football shirt for your favourite team isn’t the best choice either?
  • Consider your background. Imagine you are being interviewed by the BBC (other news agencies are available). Make sure your background is clean and tidy, there isn’t a lot of noice, and you’re well lit.
  • Consider where your camera is. Many people have cameras on a second monitor but remember this is a conversation. You other person wants to feel like you’re looking at them, not staring off distracted in the distance (even if that’s where your screen is). Try to put the camera as close to the interviewer as possible and look into the camera on occasion. For more tips on Non-Verbal Communication remotely check out this post.

And that’s about it. Many of the basics for in person interviewing still apply, but don’t be surprised if you’re not invited to more and more remote interviews as time goes by.

Have you been to an assessment centre or had a video interview? What were your experiences? Drop me a message or comment below and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the rest of the series.

Is The Company Right For You?

I’ve written a lot over the last few weeks about preparing and applying for roles, especially for the junior and aspiring developers who are entering the market for the first time. However, what I’ve not really covered is whether or not you should accept the role you’re offered.

Whether or not to accept a role may not be a straightforward decision. Photo by Armin Rimoldi on Pexels.com

There’s always a balance to be struck when that first offer comes. Ideally you want to have a few to choose between. However, personal circumstances may mean you really do need to take the first offer you get but I want to talk a little about what to look for when deciding whether to accept an offer or not.

Pay, obviously is a factor. If you are presented with one offer that is significantly more than another or if the increased cost of the commute would mean you can’t actually afford to take on a role then you should never feel pressured into it. There is sometimes room for negociation here (see my previous post on negociating salary), but it’s always better to set a clear expectation up front than to have a disappointingly low offer.

The next aspect, especially for people new to the profession is the confidence they have in the team, the company, and the hiring manager. For many young people entering a full time job, especially one as technically challenging as software development is one of the biggest challenges they’ll have faced so far. But it isn’t one they face alone. The responsibility for training and onboarding any new employee lies as much with the manager, team, and company as it does with the individual. No one should be thrown at a job, especially a junior one and expected to “get on with it”. They’re going to need help. What you need to establish during your application process is whether you have confidence that the company have the willingnenss and ability to invest in your over the first few years of your career.

Is your hiring manager someone you feel you could go to if you were struggling or worried about your performance? Have they discussed how they plan to train you? I’m encouraged when someone asks what support there is at the company to help and learn, it shows self awareness. It’s not a sign that the person is too inexperienced and I shouldn’t hire them!

Consider asking questions like:

  • Does the company have much experience hiring junior developers straight out of university?
  • What sort of training plan do you have in place for new starters?
  • When do you anticipate I’ll be a fully productive member of the team?
  • Will I be assigned a mentor for when I get help?

When you’re being interviewed you should always be asking yourself whether the people interviewing you are people you trust to place the next few years of your career with.

Do you have any suggestions of red flags you should watch for when deciding on a company? What advice would you give for someone looking for the right fit? Post in the commends below and don’t forget to follow the blog so you don’t miss out on the next post.

Talking to a Recruiter about Recruitment

I have been lucky to work with a number of recruiters over the years. They provide an essential service advertising and pre-screening candidates who come for the roles I’m looking for.

I recently discussed this series of blog posts with Matt, a friend of mine at 4IT Recruitment and he was keen to offer his advice for people looking to get involved in the industry.

Recruiters do a great job advertising roles and preparing candidates for interview. Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I wanted to know more about the work that Matt and his colleagues do between getting a CV from a prospective candidate and brining them to my attention.

What makes a candidate’s CV stand out to you?

A Simple layout – Name and contact details at the top and easy to find’. Don’t use fancy boxes or colours and there’s no need for pictures etc (unless it’s for a UX role). You should include a a brief but non-generic profile at the top of the page with a bit of insight into your skills and experience. Consider adding a technical skills matrix right at the top where it’s really visible and always start with your strongest development language at the top.

We like to see projects you been involved in and where you used your skills, what methodologies you used, any associated technologies (e.g. if was a full stack role say that it was). Universities and schools should go at at the bottom with hobbies – for graduates you should put all the experience you’ve gained from university modules at the top in place of professional experience and start with any experience you have. Always include details of any placements or work experience opportunities you’ve had. Include details of the technologies you’ve used in the roles.

What advice do you always give a candidate before an interview?

Always research the company and understand what service/ product they offer before you go to speak to them. Review the job spec if you have one and think how you can speak about your skills with regards to the criteria for the role.

Talk about what you have been responsible for delivering personally, rather than listing the achievements of the the wider team and use as many examples with how you have used your skills in the past in ‘real life’.

Try to relax…it is as much an opportunity for you to find out about the company and role as the other way around.

Remember to ask the company questions about the role and about current staff… Why is the best developer you have the ‘best developer’ etc. what do they bring extra than all others to the team?

What do you wish more candidates knew when they went for an interview?

Candidates should always remember that hiring managers’ time is very limited so they should try to give detailed answers but stick to the point and then move on.

You only get one chance to make a first impression so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Never be afraid to ask for advice before going for an interview. Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Matt has given lots of great advice for anyone coming to an interview. If you’d like to get in touch with 4IT you either via LinkedIn or email.

Do you have any advice to give candidates preparing for their first big interview? What have you found that works for you – drop a comment below or contact me on Twitter. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s post!

Negotiating Salary

While we may all enjoy our jobs being paid is kind of the whole point (don’t say that in an interview). But it’s extremely hard to know where to pitch when applying for a job. In this post I want to discuss the best approach to talking about salaries.

Let’s talk about getting paid. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When a hiring manager posts a job they usually have an upper limit or a salary band in mind. This is hard fought for in a budget conversation. The recruitment agents are usually aware of this figure.

My first piece of advice is to make sure your idea of salary and the hiring managers are aligned before you go into an interview. The reason for this is simple. You don’t want to waste your time (or the managers) if you’re applying for a role which either doesn’t have the budget you’re looking for or is offering to pay far above what you’re looking for (a good sign you’re not experienced enough). Going for an interview often involves taking a day of holiday from a current job or at least taking on some kind of expense. A quick (but sometimes awkward) conversation up front can avoid that.

Next up, there’s a little game recruitment agents (and sometimes hiring managers) like to play. They will often ask you what your current salary is and what you’re looking for. This is often very beneficial all around, it helps them gauge the current market rate for someone with your skills and will help make sure that you’re both looking in the same ball park (the same as I spoke with above). However, if you are being underpaid at your current role this can work against you. If I’m on a low salary and ask for a £20k pay rise I could well come across as greedy or over ambitious. Everyone wants a pay rise when they move roles, but don’t feel you have to give this information away if it will make your application less credible. It’s perfectly fine to say something like “Not enough – I’m really looking for £X”.

Which is where the next point comes in. Do your homework. Many roles don’t advertise the salary expectations on the advert, this is to avoid sharing with internal employees and disclosing other people’s salaries. However, it’s also very frustraiting for the applicant. Especially when one company pays one amount for a Senior Developer and another pays something completely different. Use tools like LinkedIn’s Salary Checker and to get an expectation of what a role is likely to pay. Be aware, this will change vastly by where the job is based!

The salary for a role will vary from city to city, even more from region to region or country to country. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There are a few situations where you won’t have a lot of flexibility on salary. If you’re applying for a role in a very structured organisation the salary bands may be set with no room for negotiation. Also, if you’re one of a number of new starters (for example in a graduate scheme) then the salary may be fixed. After all if you’re hiring twenty people to do the same role at the same time it would be highly inappropriate to offer one person more money.

Salary negotiations are not the easiest discussions to have but hopefully I’ve provided some insight and advice. Please get in touch or add a comment below if you have any questions and as always please subscribe and then share this series with anyone you think may find it useful.

The Interview

The interview is the most famous part of any job application process. Some senior jobs require you to go through two or more interviews but nearly all roles require you to sit down face to face with two or more people and answer questions. Even in these socially distance times when interviews are being conducted remotely it’s still an important skill to master.

The internet is full of interview advice (some of it good) so I’m going to try to approach this slightly differently and describe it from a hiring manager’s point of view.

Knowing what the interviewer is looking for goes a long way in an interview. Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

I’ve run through CVs and I’ve selected a short list of candidates I want to speak with. I may have had a few phone conversations along the way. Personally I only have two or three people on my interview list at any one time, different people may have different styles here but if I find someone I want to make an offer to I don’t want to have to wait while I interview ten other people before making that offer. I’d rather have a pipeline of candidates coming through the process knowing I can stop and offer whenever the right person comes along.

There’s a lot of time and effort invested from both sides for an interview (usually a good half a day for even a one hour interview) and you may be asking the candidate to travel and take time away from courses or work so I don’t invite someone in on a whim, I only invite people I believe could fulfil the job’s requirements.

Let’s start with the obvious stuff. Don’t be late. I don’t care if that means you have to sit in a carpark for an hour. Don’t be late and don’t get lost. Scout out your route to the interview location beforehand if that helps, if you’re making a more substantial trip then make sure you leave enough time for Murphy. If you are unavoidably delayed then call ahead and get a message to me. Trains break down on everyone, a professional will get in touch and let me know rather than leaving me sitting in an empty meeting room by myself. Believe me, that’s not a good way to make a great impression!

What to wear? I’m far from a fashion guru so I don’t want to give bad advice here. However, over the last few years I’ve been a bit less formal with my dress when I’m being interviewed (in other words I’ve lost the tie). However, I still wear a suit. The best advice I can give is dress how you would if you were representing the prospective company to a client. You want to be smarter than regular office wear but you’re not going to a black tie event. Personally I’d never wear jeans.

Try to dress how you would if you were representing the company at a visit to one of their clients. Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

You’ll most likely be interviewed by two people. This is for a couple of reasons but the most important is to get two different points of view. Don’t try and work out who the decision maker is, if they’re worth working for they’ll take their colleague’s view very seriously. Address anwers to the person who asked them and (I’m sure this is obvious) be polite and repectful to everyone you meet.

In terms of the interview itself I usually try to start simple. I want the candidate to relax and lose a few of the inevitable nerves. I usually ask something about what you’re currently studying or what you’re working on. Remember that I’ve read your CV. Don’t go overboard here, don’t bore me but tell me the interesting bits. Try not to turn a five minute question into a twenty five minute one because of nerves!

At some point early in the interview I’ll most likely describe the company and the role. Again, I’m expecting you already know most of this so the point of this is to give you a chance to ask any questions and to engage in a little light conversation before we move onto some of the more technical stuff.

There will inevitably be some questions coming. These usually fall into one of two camps, either they’re competency questions or they’re skills question.

Skills questions are designed to assess your knowledge in a particular technology. For example, one of my favourites for a C# role is to ask someone the difference between an array of strings, a list of strings, and an IEnumerable of type string. This isn’t an easy question, I like it because a junior will give me one answer and a much more senior will give me another – but they could both be correct. However, the real question here is what to do when you’re faced with a skills question you don’t know?

What can you do in an interview when someone asks you a question you don’t know the anser to? Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

That’s easy. You should simply say you don’t know. Or (assuming it’s true) tell me that you are having a mind blank and can’t remember. We’re engineers, we’re not search engines. We look things up and use intellisense. You may know more about garbage collection than I do, I may know more about IoC than you. The point of the skills questions are to get an idea of your technical strengths and weakesses. I don’t want to hire someone who will simply doesn’t possess the skills I require of them. For entry and junior roles I’m assuming you won’t know everything, it’s ok not to now!

I’m sure it goes without saying, but please don’t try to bluff me. Not only will it not work (I’ve hired a lot of engineers) but it won’t help, all that will happen is you’ll find yourself in a role which won’t suit you.

The second type of question you’re likely to encounter is the Competency Question. A competency is something like Problem Solving, or Personal Development. You can often work out which of these you’re going to be faced with by looking at the job advert. If the job description says that I’m looking for someone with A Proven Ability to Learn, Problem Solving Skills, and Resilience then there is a fair chance I’m going to have a question for each of those asking you how you’ve demonstrated them in the past.

For example, if I may ask you to describe a problem you had no idea how to solve and how you overcame it. Or I could ask how you’ve recovered from a severe setback. These are not easy questions to answer but with a little up front planning you can think of the answers you’re going to need through well before the interview. The best answers give a good example and don’t waffle. For example if I was asked about a problem I didn’t know how to overcome I could describe who I sought advice from, or how I wrote down fifty ideas and selected the best five, or I could talk about the time I needed help with my disseration and I asked my professor for advice.

It’s important to note, especially with junior roles that I’m not expecting you to be able to walk in and do the job. What I want you to persuade me is that if I made you an offer you’d be able to grow into the role. That’s why these questions are really important. Fail to prepare at your peril!

Most interviews for junior positions will last around an hour although some may last longer, especially if they involve technical tests (which I’ll cover in a future post) or form part of a larger assesment centre (again, hopefully a future post).

Towards the end of the interview I will usually offer the chance for the candidate to ask me any questions (although there’s no reason they can’t raise them before then). Honestly, I’ve heard them all. My suggestion is that you focus on questions about the role and the company and show interest in the opportunity. For example “Can you describe what the team are working on now?” is a better question than “How many days holiday do I get?”

One final point, despite what you see on TV it’s very rare to be offered the role in the interview. Don’t lose faith if it takes a few days.

I hope this has been of some help. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. What are your best suggestions for good interviews? Remember to subscribe and follow me on twitter so you don’t miss out!

Your CV

This is the third post in my coaching for junior developers series, a humble effort to help engineers find roles in 2021.

Your CV is a summary of your experience, it’s the your way of introducing yourself to the recruiter and hiring manager and is your first. There are countless guides out there for creating a good CV which I won’t try to outdo – what I’m going to do instead is write from my views as an experienced hiring manager.

Putting a good CV together is not easy, I always have to trim pages and pages out of mine whenever I do dusting. Striking a balance between what to include and what to cut is the eternal battle and two people giving you advice will always disagree with each other.

Putting a CV together is not an easy job, what do you leave in and what do you leave out? Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

Lets talk about what the CV is actually for. In my opinion it has three purposes:

  • To list your core skills so the recruiter can match them against the job spec
  • To give a high level overview to the hiring manager to decide who to phone interview
  • To give the hiring manager something to ask you in your interview

Let’s take each of these in order.

Recruiters are usually non-technical but they’re well versed in filtering out people who know about the technologies they’re discussing and those who are bluffing. Their job is to find the best selection of candidates for the job description by matching skills and experience level. Your job is to make this as easy as possible for them. Look at the job advert, look at the skills they’re requesting and split them into three catagories. Skills you have, skills you want to aquire from the role. You don’t want to try to pretend to have skills you don’t have, don’t hide gaps, highlight what you can do and explain why you’d like to close those gaps.

One more tip for recruiters. I never send a blind CV to a recruitment agent. It’s one among hundreds and it’s too easy to get lost along the masses. I always call the agency beforehand and ask some questions about the role. Help demonstrate that you can communicate and will do well in any future phone interview they put you forward for.

Next, giving a high level overview of your skills. To a degree you’ve already covered this in the first part when you aligned your skills to the role to make it easy for the recruiter. However, what you need to do now is make your CV interesting among the masses. It’s extremely difficult for a hiring manager to decide who to speak to when they’re faced with overwhelming numbers of applicants who are all equally qualified. What you want to do is add a little personality to a list of previous jobs, skills, and qualifications. There are a few ways I’d recommend you do this:

  • Sumarise yourself in a couple of sentences, it’s a bit like opening a big presentation. Don’t go with “I am Adam Griffiths and I’m here to talk to you about…” that’s what everyone says. You’d go with “Do you know what most people get wrong in their CVs?” Now you’re listening. You want the equivalent, don’t say “After a three year computer science degree your role looks like the perfect fit for me.” Surprise me try “I’ve done my degree, now I want to know how real software is built!”
  • Consider adding a link to your LinkedIn profile (you do have a LinkedIn profile right?). Personally I don’t like pictures in CVs but I’m not going to start hunting around the internet to find your LinkedIn, GitHub, personal website, and any other account you’ve got active, list them – especially if this is your first role. Put a face to a name and show me what you’ve done. Don’t include social media which shows you downing a yard of ale in a tutu. While impressive I don’t hire people based on their party tricks at the end of year bash.
  • If you’re currently in a role put “references available on request”, companies will understand that you don’t want your referees contacted yet and it won’t be a problem. If this is your first role then go and track down your referees and ask their permission before using them as a reference.

Speaking of, if this is your first role your biggest experience is your project, disseration, any work experience you’ve done, and any learning projects. Once you’ve worked in the industry for a few years these will be replaced with professional projects.

How do you show experience when you are applying for your first role!? Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The last reason for your CV is to help prompt me with questions. When you come in for interview you’ll be nervous and panicking. One of the most common opening questions is to ask about your current role, or what you’re currently working on. This is because I want to help you relax by getting you to talk about what something you know. If you don’t tell me what you’ve been working on that question is much much harder. Help me to help you here!

Those are my biggest CV tips and suggestions. What do you think? Are they helpful? What would you add?

As I mentioned above this is part of a series of posts I’m running for people wanting to break into software engineering. Make sure your subscribed to my blog and are following @DotDotDevBlog on twitter so you don’t miss my other advice.

What The Recruitment Process Looks Like

From the outside a recruitment process is fairly opaque. As someone applying for their first developer role it can be easy to get lost with who’s who. Let’s go through the high level journey of recruitment for a role.

The job interview is often only one small part of the hiring process. Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Remember, the process will always be slightly different for each company and each person but the common building blocks are often there.

  • Company identifies they need an additional person and speaks with a recruitment agency (sometimes done by a specialist team withint the company) to post an advert and job description.
  • The applicant (you) see this advert and decide to apply.
  • You will most likely be asked to provide a CV and potentially a cover letter.
  • The recruiter will then shortlist a number of candidates, filtering out the people who are clearly unsuitable and share them with the hiring manager. They may do this by speaking with the applicants themselves before forwarding them on.
  • The hiring manager will then often select a subset of candidates to hold a telephone interview with, these are usually around 30 minutes long.
  • A small number of people are then invited in for a face to face interview (obviously in the current climate this may be done slightly differently).
  • The hiring manager then assesses each candidate and decides which, if any, would be suitble for the role.

Ok, so let’s assume you’re the selected candidate. What happens next?

  • The recruiter will most likely call you either way to get your impression on how the interview went. They will most likely update you on whether they’ve heard anything on whether the company intends to make an offer. Bear in mind that a hiring manager may have many interviews for a single role and will often wait until finishing all interviews before offering the role.
  • If you are selected then the recruiter will often give you a verbal offer, or let you know that the company intends to make you an offer. Nothing is binding at this stage but it’s often wise to give an honest view of whether you would accept or not. It would be impolite for you to let a company go through the efforts of getting a contract out to you if you have no intention of accepting.
  • The recruiter will most often want to discuss start dates with you. This is great news, however if you are in an existing role you shouldn’t hand in your notice until until you’ve read the contract from the new company. It’s safe to assume you’ll be able to start 2 weeks plus any notice period you currently have, but these can always be adjusted once you’ve agreed your last day.
  • You will be issued with a contract of employment which you will be asked to sign and return.

So there you have it, the entire process! I’m going to break these various steps down over the upcoming weeks but there are a few points I want to highlight now.

It’s a long journey from advert to offer! Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Sometimes, especially if a company is hiring multiple people in the same role they may run an Assessment Centre rather than going through the entiring process for each candidate. These are nothing to be afraid of, and can be a lot of fun. But it’s often very daunting to meet (and be expected to work with) people who are competing against you for a small number of roles.

It’s important that you’re assessing the company as much as they are judging you. Hopefully you’re going to be spending several years of your life at this organisation and working with the hiring manager. If you feel uneasy around them or don’t think you would fit in there then there’s nothing wrong with turning down a job offer. It’s disappointing for the hiring manager to lose someone they feel would be a good person for a role but if your aspirations are elsewhere you should listen to that.

Finally, a LOT of candidates apply for roles. Especially during difficult times (like we’re expecting in 2021). Look for ways to stand out. I’m not talking about bringing cake to the interview or wearing bright colours to the interview but think about what differentiates you and makes you unique. Make connections with the recruiter and hiring manager by asking questions and always show your interest.

I intend to cover recruitment in a lot more detail over the next few weeks but hopefully there’s enough here to get you started.

As always if there are any questions please get in touch and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter.

What Makes Me Hire A Developer?

I’m going into a new round of interviewing developers for my team so I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I look for when I’m interviewing people to work with.

Joel Spolsky says that you need to look for two things, brains and the ability to get things done. His reasoning is that developers who are smart but never finish jobs belong in never ending research projects, developers who get things done but aren’t smart end up causing you more work and if your candidate has neither then you should run a mile!

While I like his logic I have a few other criteria.

Joel doesn’t mention the candidate’s passion, their ability to learn, to form relationships with their team, or to empathise with the customer. In my eyes a developer who doesn’t have these qualities will negatively impact your team’s dynamic and product just as much as someone who produces bugs for a living.

So why an ability to learn? I hope this one fairly obvious. In our fast paced development world a developer’s ability to learn new technologies, absorb ideas and keep up with current trends is (in my opinion) more valuable than whether they have an in depth understanding of bitwise operators or lambda expressions. I’m not saying don’t ask about the technical side, but make sure your candidate can learn your code, your technologies and whatever comes along next!

Relationships? How many times have you worked alongside someone who can’t work in a team? They’re territorial, overly sensitive and horde knowledge with the misguided belief it makes them invulnerable. Look for people who enjoy the camaraderie and take time to teach and learn from their colleagues.

Empathy for the customer? This is, in my view one of the most important. Can your candidate put themselves in the shoes of your clients? Can they envisage how a bad release will impact your reputation? Do they understand the consequences to people’s working day when your code doesn’t work as expected? Find someone who understands the frustrations of bad software and poor customer service and you’ll find someone who will strive to prevent it!

Passion? Simply put I want a developer who wants to develop software! I don’t mean you have to spend every evening and weekend writing code or contributing to open source projects but demonstrate to me that you enjoy what you do. Tell me about what you’re working on, explain that bug fix you’re really proud of but please prove to me that you’re there’s something about the job you actually enjoy (other than just the £££s).

So there you have it, a few of the qualities I want my developer candidates to demonstrate for me. What do you look for when you’re interviewing? What personality traits do you try to show when you’re being interviewed?