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Selling yourself as a software developer

Selling yourself as a developer

There are many reasons why people want to move on to a new role:

  • You’ve been at a company several years and fancy a change of scenery
  • Your company is outsourcing the development work
  • The current projects have been completed
  • The tech stack isn’t moving how you would have liked
  • You’re working on out dated technology
  • There is no clearly defined career path
  • Anything else?

Let’s face it, when you move on to a new job, you’ll want to sell yourself in the best light and appeal to a future employer.  As much as developers are in constant desire here in London, a CV is your professional profile and offers a glimpse into a future employee and co-worker so should tell a future employer what is driving you on, but all too often people don’t put any effort into their CV.

I’ve been hiring for developers for over a decade and here are a few things I look out for on a CV to show me someone is serious about their profession:

A well-presented CV

All too often people forget that you’re selling yourself on your CV.  If you can’t be bothered to make sure everything is well aligned and using the same font / structure throughout then why would you be any different in your work and create poorly documented hashed together buggy code?  Even if it’s put together with Arial and in font size 10, if it all follows the same structure then you’re winning.  Not only should you present your CV well, but you should also ensure you take 5 minutes to spell check.  If you can’t be bothered to check the content of your CV then how can a potential employer know that they can trust you with their prized code base!

Evidence of technical exposure

Another thing we see far too often is that people just list that they worked on a project within a company; something like ‘I was a developer for the Acme road system that was used to bring revenue to the business.’ No.  Just no.

Far better to be specific.  ‘I was a mid level developer in a team of 7 whose remit it was to write a web based system utilising C# 6 with MVC 5 with Angular on the front end.  We followed an Agile / 2 week sprint methodology and paired programmed wherever necessary.  The system was delivered on time and within budget and has seen a significant cost saving over 35% in relation to the old Access based system.”

Achievements in jobs

Ever been promoted?  Or given more responsibility?  Feels great doesn’t it?  Employers love to see that you are someone who wants to progress up the career ladder and are a responsible team member.  Write about it on your CV, someone with ‘After 9 months in my current role I was promoted to Team Leader; I had responsibility for 3 more junior members of staff and conducted periodic reviews of both performance and code with them.  I enjoyed this aspect of the role as I was able to help more junior members of the team to accomplish their own goals’.

It’s also great to show quantifiable evidence of your work having meaning. ‘When I joined the company all invoicing was carried out manually.  Within 6 months I proposed, designed, wrote and implemented a web based system that automated this process and saves 150 man hours a month and over £75,000 cost savings whilst improving efficiency by 125%”.

Having an active interest in technology

I’ve been tracking the average salaries offered to candidates with an active tech interest we help to secure roles (this includes things you’re working on in your spare time and attending conferences or meetup groups) and it’s surprising but those who are active in community and spend time working on hacking stuff achieve at least 15% more on job offers than their counterparts who aren’t involved.  I run the IDinLondon events and have found that people who attend events are really quite passionate about their career and software development in general.  Companies love to see this, and mentioning it on your profile is really beneficial. “I’m an active member of the London .Net User Group and can often be seen taking in the talks at the London Angular meetup; outside of this I’m currently hacking an Arduino to open my front door when I tweet that I’m on the driveway”.  It’s also great to attend events where you can learn and network; and it’s pretty certain there will be pizza. Win Win!

Get social

Employers love to see someone who is social.  Perhaps you are involved in some open source projects, maybe you like solving problems on HackerRank or perhaps you blog about new tech that you’re evaluating.  People who are active on social sites are interesting to employers because they are always learning.  A while back I was speaking with a developer who came to one of our events and was introduced to Docker; he went to work and proposed it as a tool to use and it’s become a great asset to the business.


So, have a look at your profile.  Are you selling yourself?