How to get your dream developer job: mistakes to avoid

How to get your dream developer job: mistakes to avoid cover image

Are you committing these job application sins? If you're applying for lots of roles and not hearing anything back then make sure that you're not making any of these mistakes. Each of them is easy to make but fortunately easy to fix, take a few minutes to make sure that your job applications are giving you the best chance to land the job.

1. Starting with "Dear Sirs/Madam"😩

When I hired people this would be a massive black mark against the candidate from the start. It shows they didn't even go to the About Us page on our website, they are just applying to as many roles as possible with no thought. I didn't expect applicants to only be applying to us but I did expect them to at least look at what we do and take a minute or two to find a name.

Many people say they can't find a name to address the application. This may have been valid 30 years ago but now there is always a name you can find, ring reception and ask, look on LinkedIn for someone in the hiring department or head of HR, heck put the CEO's name down if you need to, just something to show you have a clue who you're applying to.

2. Don't use LinkedIn Easy Apply πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

I've written about this before, LinkedIn EasyApply is there to make LinkedIn look good, not to make you look good. It increases the "applications per listing" and so a company thinks they are getting good value for money when hiring through LinkedIn. In reality it makes it so quick for you, and everyone else, to apply with a generic CV, that the company is inundated and they simply delete half the applications at the start. If they can find a good candidate in 200 they can probably find one in just 100 and save 50% of the time!

3. Not tailoring your resume/CV πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Each application doesn't need to be a hand crafted work of art, this would take far too long, but each one should be tailored slightly to the role you are applying for. If it's more backend focussed move relevant bullet points up, maybe take out three of the five frontend examples and instead highlight that one time you worked on a CI/CD deployment pipeline instead. Little tweaks go a long way to helping the recruiter or hiring manager pattern match you to the job the vacancy they have.

4. Listing every job you've ever had πŸ“œ

No one wants to see every job you have had, especially if it's the surf shop at your local beach for 6 months after university. If you are really thin on the ground for experience then put those jobs in an "Other Employment" section and only highlight the parts of those roles that carry over to software development. Listing 12 roles is a waste of space that would be better spent highlighting a few great examples from your most relevant and recent roles or projects.

5. Not linking to your portfolio or Github ☠️

You spent all that time making these wonderful projects and then at the last minute, when they really matter, you pull the punch and drop the link from your CV. I get it, it's scary showing someone what you have made, but I would rather see someone shipped something simple and went through the process of finishing a project than nothing at all. Portfolio projects don't need to be innovative start up ideas, just your take on a todo list app is fine. Just show them you have shipped something once, ever.

6. Not highlighting where your skills match the job 🀯

This goes hand in hand with tailoring your resume/CV but is actually even easier. When I say highlight, I literally mean to highlight the technologies you have worked with, if you have written an app in SwiftUI or a backend in NodeJS then make that names pop slightly. This makes it easy for the hiring manager to pattern match you to the job and their required skills. It's all about making their life easier, so make things obvious.

7. Only applying if you 100% match the job spec 😒

Job ads are wish lists, very few people match them completely. If you wait until you match every requirement on a job advert your will never apply. Some people say you want to hit 80%, I personally believe 50% is fine to put an application in, especially if you are a career switcher and have experience in the industry or are a seasoned dev who likewise has industry relevant experience. So long as you don't lie, you can be confident that if they think you are a good fit they will hire you anyway, while you might not have worked in their specific database technology, it's not like your previous database knowledge is suddenly useless.


There you have it, the most common mistakes that are holding back your job search and preventing you from landing you first job or you next well earned step up the ladder πŸ˜€

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