The Honest Guide for Coding Bootcamps IV: Job Search

  • study, study, study;
  • code, code, code;
  • work on your resume and online presence;
  • train yourself for interviews;
  • apply for jobs; and
  • network.
  • use your best criteria to prioritize what to learn next,
  • decide what kind of jobs you want to apply to,
  • optimize how to distribute your time among the different tasks, and
  • be optimistic among the uncertainty and loneliness — you might have to stay home every day without much social interaction.
Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

Job Offer Formula

  • The company’s pursuit of diversity and, therefore, a diverse panel of interviewers. Tech is becoming more diverse, but you might still find very homogenous interview panels. As an example, linguistic issues can also affect your evaluation. Isn’t English your first language? That might be an initial barrier when communicating during the interview.
  • The interviewers. Interviewers are more likely to approve candidates that have similar backgrounds. The bias might come in very subtle ways, for instance, in the act of selecting questions. Candidates that value highly academic questions, because they might have a Ph.D. or come from companies where academic talent is valued, might unconsciously be introducing this bias into their interviews. Interviewing is a complex skill and, therefore, it requires developing interpersonal skills and lots of practice in order to calibrate questions. Despite the efforts of companies for building unbiased and diverse interview processes, at the end of the day, you will be interacting with people whose daily jobs are not interviewing people. They might have preconceptions, unconscious biases, different or incorrect expectations, or even conflict of interests (they might have referred someone else to the position!) They could also have a bad day and be in a bad mood!
  • The questions the interviewers choose. Some questions don’t allow you to show your potential as a developer and your team player skills. Most of the times questions need to be studied and, indeed, many actual developers could not even respond to them!
  • Timing. First, some job opportunities might not come at the right timing due to a lack of preparation or any other circumstance. Furthermore, timing can also affect you if you are part of the last candidates to be interviewed and the hiring team already has a previous candidate in mind.
  • And many more.

Are Apprenticeships Real Opportunities?

Beware Of Scams

  • Unpaid internships. They tend to be small startups at coworking spaces. They have an online presence, but it’s hard to find senior software engineers on LinkedIn currently working there. All employees are recent bootcampers, and they are all interns. The only employees are the CEOs. Of course, they are unpaid internships. At this point, you might be considering taking this opportunity to get some experience and add it to your resume. In my experience, these opportunities take advantage of you and don’t offer any mentorship. On top, you have to figure out all devops issues.
  • Voluntarily paid gigs. They tend to be confusing companies in weird offices. The interview process is in batches. Everyone gets hired, but the terms and conditions are still very confusing. The job seems very easy, and money seems excellent. It’s all and all confusing. I know this sounds confusing, but I experienced it. It was an NYC company developing Alexa skills.
  • Paid training. There are many of these opportunities. These companies offer a few months of training on specific technologies. Afterward, they pay you a fixed salary below market for one or two years while you work for services to third companies. You signed a contract with them, and if you find a new job, you are penalized and have to return them the cost of their training. It seems an ok opportunity when you are desperate for a job, but the terms are incredibly aggressive, and they are taking advantage of people in those circumstances.

Understanding Recruiting in Tech

  • Phone screenings. Phone screenings are usually one of the first filters in the hiring process. They usually are 30-minute conversations with recruiters. Most of the questions are cultural, but some can be related to your experience and technical projects. Nonetheless, you must be ready for the TOP of all questions: “why do you want to work at blank?”. This is one of the trickiest questions. After years of experience, software engineers might be able to choose where do they want to work. However, bootcampers don’t have that luxury, choosing is not always an option. During my job search, I first applied to open roles at companies related to my previous career or companies with products that I liked. I applied to them with no success which made me apply to any company with entry-level or junior roles. I remember my first job fair with Flatiron. One of the companies — a two-sided market company for house cleaning and handyman services — asked me why I chose them. The truth was that Flatiron assigned me the companies; therefore, I didn’t choose them. I was honest and added that I was interested in their products and solving the technical problems we had discussed. It was probably a poor answer. Most companies have very uninspiring products but you MUST show them your excitement for the company. Research about the company, its products, latest releases, tech stack, and company values to create a narrative to sell them.
  • Online timed exercises. Another of the common filtering methods are online timed exercises — most likely algorithms — via third-party sites or email with questions that you must answer within an amount of time. The good part is that nobody is looking at you when you are coding!
  • At-home coding exercises. Another common methodology is to send you at-home exercises such as building simple apps or solving problems that require more complex algorithms or data structures. You have to code the solutions and return the code within a few days. The positive side is that you can code at your own pace and google anything that you don’t know. On the other hand, they are very time-consuming.
  • Online pair programming. This format consists of a videoconference where you pair-program in real-time with your interviewer.
  • On-site interview. Congrats, you made it to the final round! Most job interviews outside of tech take about an hour; in contrast, tech onsites can go from three to four hours. The interview agenda include cultural and/or technical interviews. Technical interviews can have three different focus: domain-specific, computer science fundamentals, or conceptual.

Resources To Prepare For Interviews

  • MDN Web Docs for Javascript. You’ll find good documentation on multiple topics: inheritance and the prototype chain, concurrency model and the event loop, or closures.
  • React. I highly recommend rereading the basic concepts and also studying the latest features of the framework such as context API and hooks. Also, read the React Blog.
  • Don’t forget to keep practicing FlexBox!
  • Pramp, practice makes perfect. [Free] Online peer-2-peer platform for practicing technical interviews. It is a community of software engineers who come together to prepare for their upcoming coding interviews
  • interviewing.io [Free] Practice interviewing with engineers from high tech companies anonymously.
  • Skilled. [One free interview, pay after] Hour-long practice interviews.

Mocking Cultural Interviews

  • Why do you want to be a developer?
  • What are you looking for in your next job?
  • Walk me through your career history/background.
  • What have you built?
  • Why are you interested in this role or company?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What questions do you have for me?

Let’s Dive Into Your Resume

  • the minimum skills required for their entry-level positions,
  • the potential to keep learning,
  • a professional background that might add value to their mission,
  • work ethic and commitment.
  • List 1 to 3 projects, but always the most relevant on top.
  • Be very short and concise with your technical projects. The fewer words, the better.
  • Don’t overexplain broadly known technologies. Keep a single line to list the common technologies: p.e. React, Redux, Thunx, OAuth, etc. Then, use more space to detail the more interesting, project-specific technologies implemented in your app.
  • Make sure they have links to the code or demos and make sure the repositories have fantastic READMEs.
  • Show variety: if all projects use the same technologies, decide which one is the strongest.
  • If you are focusing on front-end, I’d strongly suggest re-visiting React’s Advanced Guides. Choose your top project and refactor it so it uses React’s newest features: strict mode, context, refs, hooks, etc. Implement Flow. Make your app 100% accessible. List them on your project description! That’s real developer work!
  • Don’t say you’re a full-stack engineer. Read the section Portfolio to learn why. If you see yourself saying something like “Passionate about designing and developing intuitive interfaces” then say you’re a front-end engineer. On the other hand, if you say something like “Passionate about moving data through an API into a database” then you’re choosing back-end as your focus area.
  • Add technical projects and skills. Place your technical projects on top, unless you’re already a senior engineer. At this time in your career, your previous jobs are secondary. What matters is your newly acquired skills.
  • List your technical skills (languages, frameworks, tools) but avoid mentioning Microsoft Suite, Google Sheets, Gmail, or alike. Avoid listing soft or vague skills such as public speaking or project management unless they are very strong ones. Instead, show them through your past role descriptions. Nobody cares if you like cooking, dancing, or Cosplay. A big NO for those.
  • If you have a ton of previous experience in non-engineering roles, therefore, irrelevant to engineer positions, list your last jobs and keep the responsibility descriptions very short. Cut irrelevant jobs. If you don’t have much experience, don’t overexplain them: nobody hiring for engineers care if you were the top salesperson at a gift shop in NYC (unless the developer roles is a solutions engineer where client-facing experience could matter). Your previous jobs are irrelevant for the jobs you are applying now, but relevant background adds to your personal capital. Some interviewers might be interested in hearing about some of your previous projects or roles. However, don’t forget you’re in tech now, don’t spend much interview time explaining your past roles working on environmental projects. Keep it sweet and short. Unfortunately, barista roles at Starbucks might not bring a lot of conversation to the table.
  • List your previous experiences by role. I like seeing something like Manager @ Company. City, Year-Year. I dislike seeing things like Company, Month-Year — Month-Year
    Title, City.
    Keep the information in one line and list them in descending chronological order.
  • Review grammar. Review punctuation.
  • Add the city where you live, but not the full address.
  • Add contact information: phone and email. (Try to use Gmail, I’ve heard Hotmail or very old email domains don’t look good!)
  • Link your website, LinkedIn, or Medium profiles. If your Medium or blog site is very outdated and not well maintained, don’t share them. Consider deleting them.
  • Don’t add your social media.
  • Don’t add a photo.
  • All in all, keep it to one page. If you have years and years of experience, keep it to one page.

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Alberto Carreras

Alberto Carreras

albertcarreras.github.io

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