Episode 57: How to Sell Yourself and Find Work

David Gatti and Arsalan Ahmed with Mentoring Developers

Do you need to have experience in software development in order to get a job in tech? The answer may surprise you. In a world where technology leads the way to new and exciting innovations and designs, finding a job in tech can seem like a dream. But too often you hear from others around you that entering the field of software development is tougher than it first appears. You must have the skills needed, but skill alone isn’t enough. You must also have experience under your belt. That’s the theory, anyway. So, let’s separate fact from fiction.

Returning to talk more about selling yourself and finding work in software development is David Gatti. David comes from a varied and global background in tech and more. Now, he’s here to confirm what’s true and what’s false about what you really need to do to get into tech. If you’re ready to hear more about it, listen in to episode 57. Be sure to leave us some comments about what you liked at the end.

Say hello to David on Twitter!

David’s Bio:

David Gatti began his career in IT as a Systems Administrator. He learned how to code in PHP out of boredom, and made some simple internal tools to help him while managing the company network.

He then became a blogger and wrote about mobile technologies before the iPhone came into existence and PDAs had cellular modems. He also wrote the CMS for the website itself when WordPress was first starting. Then he began working as a web developer for a company that did simple Facebook games.

After this initial experience, he imported a Windows Mobile app to Android 2.3. He later became a Brand Manager for a mobile game company and a Marketing Director for another company, and at that company – he transitioned to Developer Relations Manager and worked for two companies with this title. It was a job that he fell in love with.

But, while hunting for his next opportunity, he struggled to find the right company. Out of frustration, he created Simpe.li (simply) so he could keep doing what he does best – Development Relations Management done right.

Episode Highlights and Show Notes:

Arsalan: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Mentoring Developers. My guest again today is David Gatti. David, how are you?

David: I’m good. How are you?

Arsalan: I’m doing fantastic. It was good to have you in the last episode and I’m excited to have you again because we’re going to talk about another really relevant topic. I’m going to let you describe it.

David: Thank you. I don’t have a platform for it, so let’s say this. I want to help you learn how to sell yourself to an employer.

Arsalan: That’s great! How to sell yourself or how to get a job and get ahead if you’re just starting out and are new to software development. If you’re wondering how you’re going to get noticed and how you’re going to get a job, you should be listening to this episode.

David: Correct. The first thing will require lots of work and patience. You are going to need to do a bunch of things before you can start looking for a job if you want to do this quickly and find someone who is going to like you. There are a lot of people online who are bombarding employers and companies trying to convince them that they are the perfect fit for the job. This is without them providing any proof that they are any good at what they do. You may be thinking to yourself that you just finished school and you don’t have any experience. Yet, in 2017 you don’t need any experience. You need to build your portfolio online. You can do this a couple of ways.

David: Start a topic that you’re passionate about and learn everything that there is to learn about it. Write something about it explaining what you just learned. If you’ve written five or six of these articles, then, while job searching, you can show that you understand what you learn, you can explain those topics, and that you can write interesting articles about that topic that are fun to read.

David: Spend some time writing small tools to help other developers. Now, many languages have package management systems. A couple of examples are NPM for NodeJS, PIP for Python, and many other tools. Find something that always annoyed you when you were developing something and perhaps no one wrote a tool or they did a poor job of creating a tool. Then, make a bunch of tools for yourself and publish them with links on your website. This gives you some proof that you are active and building things. Then when someone asks you for some examples of your work, you can include all the links to the things that you’ve created. You can show your GitHub profile is active by building something on there. You can also use GitHub as a blogging platform. That’s something that I do – publish my articles on GitHub. Basically, GitHub is like Facebook for developers. This is the way that GitHub is going after their last conference. They are understanding that developers are the most important part of their community rather than B2B, or businesses. So, they are going back to their roots and building new social features.

David: When I look for new developers and their GitHub profile is empty and they don’t have their own name or a photo, I tend to pass them up. It’s a very important part especially for someone who’s looking for a developer. One of the easiest ways to find a job would be through places like Upwork, Freelancer or a similar website. You may wonder why you should bother when there are so many people bombarding lawyers and companies with messages, but I would suggest to go and check the profiles of those people. There is literally nothing there. Those are people who are just looking to make a quick buck and work on a project. They don’t care about the code quality. You can easily stand out by showing what you’ve done.

David: If you’re young and you’ve just finished school, you could say to the employer that you are willing to work for less and prove yourself. And if you create clean, nice and well-organized code, the employer will take that into consideration and it will be to your benefit. The main thing that companies want is somebody that they can trust, someone who knows how to do a job, and someone who is writing clean and well-organized code. By being diligent in taking the time you can make it so that the company will not want to let you go. Then, you can more easily ask for more money.

David: This is something that I take the time to write in my own profile. I write out the codes and continue learning new things. I love writing articles. So, I take a complete idea and simplify it. People on twitter are starting to notice it, and are commenting on my articles. Then, if I need them while looking for a new job, I just point to my GitHub profile.

Arsalan: Yeah, a tip that I received from recruiters and from my own personal experience, is to always include your social media profile or all of the links where you maintain your social media presence in your resume. I don’t necessarily mean Facebook.

David: I would say that if they are a developer, then enter it. But, I wouldn’t be interested in what you ate yesterday.

Arsalan: Right. A lot of people think of their social media profiles as an extension of their resumes or an extension of their personality. So, they curate that. It’s all intentional. If they post something on Instagram or if they tweet something, they’re wondering to themselves “what do I want the world to see.” So, they include that in their LinkedIn profile and on their resume. It’s possible that some of their social media profiles will have content that is not very professional, but it doesn’t have to be unprofessional. If there’s something questionable in that content, then you should take it out. Otherwise, that tells you a few things as an employer or manager. Firstly, that person can communicate, even if the article is not technical. If you write about something and comment on things, it shows you as a real person, which most people are more comfortable with. If you have done work, then you can always create articles and you can write other pieces of software and you can post them on GitHub.

Arsalan: The other thing that you mentioned about GitHub was fantastic, but a lot of people who do work in enterprises or non-open source projects, which is the majority of people, they don’t have the liberty to share their work on GitHub. But, what they can do some work on their own or show snippets of something that they’ve built, and then they can share that.

David: Of course. It’s always personal stuff. Don’t share corporate code.

Arsalan: Yeah, don’t share corporate code, but a lot of people have worked on open source projects to begin with. Then, they can share it. That’s great if you can.

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