The Ruby community is surging with new developers. Thanks to bootcamps and a drive for diversity, the community is booming and becoming better than ever. A little over a year ago I started reviewing applications at Hashrocket. While talking to new developers the same questions keep coming up:
- What can I do to improve my resume/github?
- How can I make myself more marketable?
This article is my advice for entry level developers.
Don’t leave your github avatar as the default. This screams “brand new”. A professional looking photo of yourself is best, but even a silly photo will do.
Have at least one personal project that you’re proud of. Most of the time new developers have several bootcamp, tutorial or how-to github projects and that’s okay; it shows you’re learning. My advice is to write at least one small library, preferably tested, that you are proud of and link to it in your cover letter or resume. Don’t let the first github experience be an untested tutorial.
Send a PDF. Not everyone has Word. If you wrote it on Windows their Mac may not have your font. Sending a docx may look horrible to the person reading it. PDF is universally accepted and you’ll have peace of mind knowing it looks great everywhere.
Don’t use buzzwords. If you use a buzzword on your resume be prepared to be questioned about it. I suggest not using buzzwords unless you’re an expert.
Don’t do this:
Full stack developer experienced with TDD/BDD, Angularjs, Emberjs, Rails, CanCan, Devise, Postgresql, MongoDB, CouchDB, Async, Nodejs.
- Don’t try to make it sound like you have more experience than you do. People will see the amount of experience you have. Be honest.
The goal of the resume should be to pique an employer’s interest. You just need to get to the next step. Get that phone call and/or interview. You’ll have a chance to talk more about your experience later. Don’t add too many spoilers.
Making yourself more marketable
Below you’ll find ideas that, I believe, will make you more marketable. You can add these to your Github or resume. However, if you are doing the following, you will probably get noticed by companies and recruiters without having to apply anywhere.
Tinker. Have a personal project. Something that shows you enjoy what you do. The best developers almost always code in their free time. This is easy to add and show on Github. If you don’t code in your free time, but you tinker in other ways, let people know. Blog about your woodwork, quadcopters, catapults, whatever.
Speak. Give a presentation or a lightning talk at your local meetup. Meetups are a great way to find other developers and businesses in the area. If you’re shy, or don’t like speaking, then blog. Write about the thing you’re tinkering with. Or, do a “today I learned” style blog. Everyday post a sentence or two, and an example of something you learned. This is a much better way to show you are learning than a Github filled with tutorials.
Contribute. Give something back to the community. Find a small project and add something to it. Add documentation or a bug fix, or spend some time helping others.
Test. This is the hardest skill to learn. Find a mentor, or read other people’s tests (Github is full of expert-level tests). Then practice, practice, practice. Add tests to your projects and make sure you link them in your resume.
If you do any of the above you will be way ahead of the competition. If you do all of them, you can get a job anywhere. Last bit of advice: Don’t stop once you get a job. Continuing to do these things will only help you grow as a developer and serve to promote you later.