6 job search tips for developers

Developers are in high demand, but that doesn't mean landing a job is as easy as simply applying. Here are six tips if you're looking to land your dream job

developer job seekers

Job search tips for developers

With the advent of mobile and Web apps, developers are in high demand across almost every industry. But the way companies look for candidates has changed over the years, especially with so many specific skills and disciplines that now fall under the umbrella of "developer." You'll want to be prepared for a number of different variables when it comes to landing the perfect developer job.

Here are six tips to prepare yourself to find a job as a developer.

You'll be tested on your skills

You'll be tested on your skills

Be prepared to take a test based on the required skills for that role. These tests might require you to write code, demonstrate your creative abilities, or simply show you have a grasp of the general skills necessary to become a developer. Essentially, says Kevin Dunne, vice president of strategy at QASymphony, companies will be want to measure you up against your resume, which means you need to be honest about your competency in each skill.

While you want to present your best self on your resume, be careful not to overpromise on skills or accomplishments. A hiring manager might be miffed if you say you're fluent in a programming language, but your test doesn't measure up. "I would recommend highlighting technical proficiency and also mention experience around picking up and learning new languages and technologies. The worst thing that a developer can do is oversell themselves for a role they will not succeed in, as they will quickly find the way out the door and the organization will be back at square one trying to fill that position."

Be honest and upfront, it's OK to say you have some experience in a language but are eager and willing to learn more, Dunne notes. People get hired all the time even if they don't fit every requirement on the job description, especially if you demonstrate an ability to catch onto new concepts quickly.

Join a hackathon

Join a hackathon

Hackathons, hackfests, codefests, or hack days -- whatever you want to call them, they're getting very popular in the tech world. These events, which can sometimes take place over a few days, giving participants a certain amount of time to create a program, design a user interface, build an API, or improve upon an already existing service or app. It's a great way to develop and enrich your skills as well as network and meet other colleagues in the industry.

But beyond that, it's also a great place to position yourself to find a job. Employers seeking developers know hackathons are a great way to find the right talent to suit their company's needs. You'll mostly run into employers for consumer focused businesses, says Dunne, but it's a great way to get exposure and make direct contacts in the industry. And while these hackathons might have a reputation among younger college students or recent grads, that's not necessarily the case. In fact, Dunne says that "with more legacy applications written in older languages, there may not be as many recent grads with experience, so that may force the employer to look into more of the current workforce and those areas."

Prepare for blind auditions

Prepare for blind auditions

Dunne says that thanks to reality TV, blind auditions have become a popular way for employers to screen candidates through "brief blind coding or survey sessions where their identities are not revealed," especially using sites like GapJumper. These services help eliminate any concern around discrimination stemming from gender, race, education or physical appearance. There's been a big push for diversity in Silicon Valley, and blind auditions are one way to help reach that goal.

Blind auditions are also a great way for companies to make sure that they aren't just hiring a group of friends, says Dunne, since plenty of development teams are now built up on referrals. Referrals are a great way to find talent, but it can quickly get out of hand as more employees help their friends get a leg in the door.

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It's not just about the coding

It's not just about the coding

You might be great at coding and programming software, but developers also need to work well on cross-functional teams as well as with outside clients. That means you might have to prepare for a behavioral interview, which Dunne says "deliver a 360-degree analysis of the individual's work style, social and interpersonal communication skills, ambitions, and weaknesses." Interviewees can expect to be asked questions that evaluate how honest they are, if they can admit to mistakes and how open they are to learning, says Dunne. He encourages job seekers to take these interviews seriously, even though they aren't about your developing prowess.

Showcasing your personality also goes back to the first tip about being honest on your resume, even if the job seems a little out of reach. If you seem like a better overall fit for the team, you might find that even though you aren't proficient in a few skills the job requires, the hiring manager might hire you over someone who has more experience but doesn't demonstrate strong interpersonal skills, as Dunne points out. It's much easier for a manager to train someone who meshes well with the team than to manage someone with the right skills who doesn't work well with the rest of the department.

Don't ignore legacy skills

Don't ignore legacy skills

If you're a seasoned developer, don't get discouraged by the hordes of recent grads entering the workforce with shiny new skills. While it's important to keep on top of the latest programming languages and changes in the industry, don't ignore skills you might think employers will perceive as out of date. "Some of the most in demand jobs are those related to legacy systems like Fortran, COBOL, etc. as many large institutions still run on mainframe systems, and the population of developers with knowledge of those systems is decreasing, while the number of mainframe systems requiring maintenance remains somewhat steady," says Dunne.

Your legacy skills also demonstrate your past accomplishments and abilities, so don't be afraid to highlight them on your resume. While you always want to focus on the job description and what it requires, your past experience can demonstrate your ability to learn and adapt in a fast changing industry.

Demonstrate passion

Demonstrate passion

Employers in every industry want workers who are motivated and excited to come into work, and that certainly extends to developers. Of course while full blown positivity may not be realistic every single day, you should at least make sure you show a level of passion for your chosen field. Similar to your interpersonal skills, it might not seem like a relevant job requirement, but you can't overlook passion. You wouldn't want to get passed over for a candidate who wasn't as qualified but was enthusiastic about their future in the career.

Not showing passion might suggest that you'll become complacent or bored down the line. "Where possible, it is great to communicate the passion you have for the application you are developing (or just development in general), as passion for doing your job will be a great indicator of future success," says Dunne. Just like you need to demonstrate your communication skills and ability to work well with others, you also want to reassure the hiring manager that you are invested in your career and future.