This is part IV of a multipart series titled How to get a developer job in Seattle, or Anywhere.
- Part II – Build a resume
- Part III – Get some creds
- Part IV – Strut your stuff
- Part V – Tap into some resources
- Part VI – Put your community to work
Up to this point you have learned how to build a resume and connect with your target community to gain some credentials, now it is time to show yourself off and strut your stuff. This can often be difficult for people as it requires bragging about yourself. You are worth it! If you want to land that stellar job you need to be confident in your abilities and able to look someone in the eye and say “You need to hire me. I am good.” There are a bunch of free tools out there that will help you strut your stuff. Places where you can point potential employers to to say “Yeah, I can do that”.
Do not overlook how you physically present yourself to a potential employer. The way you look, how you dress, is the first thing an employer will notice about you. Up until recently everyone walked around wearing suits or dresses, but in recent times there has been an extreme trend toward casual clothing. Nothing is wrong with that, and I do enjoy wearing shorts and t-shirt to work instead of a claustrophobic suit, but before you go waltzing into an interview in a t-shirt it is important to learn what the expected dress in the industry is. If the company you are interviewing with wears suits to work you better show up to your interview in a suit. If the company is as relaxed as mine it is ok to show up in shorts. Be sure you dress appropriately, and do not worry too much about overdressing. If you interview at a company that wears jeans and untucked collared shirts it is probably worth dressing slightly nicer with slacks and a button up shirt, but if the company is a shorts and t-shirt company and you show up in a suit they may be thrown off by you.
The moral of this story is that you want to get in and understand the industry culture and how it dresses. Steve was very lucky with his interviews. The WordPress community is very relaxed and typically does jeans and a t-shirt, which is his normal outfit. He put on an untucked button up shirt ( Making sure it was the kind designed to be untucked ) and that helped to set him apart as a cut above the rest of the pack without being too far away from the culture.
Photos are important too
In the last article I walked you through several web services that support some form of avatar, or online photo representation of yourself. I am be presenting more services supporting avatars as this series goes on. I cannot overstress how important your social avatar is to potential clients and employers. Humans resonate with images, particularly of people. Studies have shown that when trying to sell a digital product online if you include a picture of a human on the button or page somewhere your sales will go up. The same applies anywhere you represent yourself online. When you are picking a photo be sure you choose one that very clearly shows your face. Staged/posed photos work ok, but it is better if it is a snapshot of you doing something you love as your eyes and facial expression will be sparkling with a passion that draws people in. Posed photos by contrast are flat and lifeless. Let me show you a couple examples of my own avatars:
I used this photo for only a couple months. The feedback I received was unsolicited and all negative. Part of it had to do with the “orange” look ( bad lighting ), but moreso was the fact that it looks posed and I do not look particularly happy
This next picture is me leaning against my 1965 VW Bus. I happen to be in love with my bus. Notice the happy relaxed look on my face. The boon to this photo is that it shows not only myself, but also something I am passionate about. I used this image for several years to really great success. People all over my industry would comment on the bus, and almost everyone has a good story about that one time in their ( friend’s ) bus on a road trip.
This next avatar is actually me breaking my own advice, but now that I am established in my community people recognize me wherever I go. I want to show you that once you are well known you can start to have fun with your avatar. I took this picture at a friends cabin on my phone. I liked the way it looked, and it still conveys enough of my face to be recognizable. Avatars like this are allowed when you are well known, but be sure to keep in mind that you face still needs to be on it. I have seen several people in my community switching to caricatures of themselves as well. Those are fun too.
To bring it home with a real life example, Steve originally had an avatar of one of his fish. It was a perfectly framed and lit photo, and the fish was gorgeous, but it made him seem distant and unattainable. I suggested to Steve that he try something with his face in it. Steve is a very private guy and he did put up a photo of himself, but his face was half covered with a mask. After more prodding he finally put up an avatar that clearly showed his face and was of him doing one of his favorite activities. I am not joking when I say that very shortly after that one of his clients ( whom I recommended use him )called me and told me how happy they were to be able to see who it was they were dealing with ( up to that point it had been phone and emails only ).
Gravatar is a free avatar service. Gravatar stands for “Globally Recognized Avatar” and allows you to upload your avatar to one location that can be utilized by any website using Gravatar for avatars. Many millions of websites utilize the Gravatar system to automagically get a photo of you by your email address. Additionally any WordPress powered website ( some 26% or more of the internet is powered by WordPress ) utilizes Gravatar by default.
Pimp that resume
In the second article of this series you learned about creating a resume. That is all fine and dandy, but a file sitting on your computer and printouts gathering dust on your desk are not exactly helpful in your job hunt. LinkedIn provides a place where you can host your resume online for free. Go sign up and start inputting all the data from your resume. Do not forget the awesome avatar you created in the last section.
LinkedIn has a host of other great benefits as well. LinkedIn is a professional social network, essentially the Facebook for professionals. You will be able to create networks on LinkedIn filled with other people you know. It is very important that you carefully choose who you connect with on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that this is a professional network, and you should treat it as such. You do not want to hop on and just go connect with all your existing friends from Facebook, you want to connect with people of value to your career. These people just may be the reason you land that big job in the future. I will talk more about how to leverage LinkedIn, and other social networks, in a future article.
Additionally, Linked in allows you to connect to other external services. Connect up to everything that you possibly can ( that will help you professionally. Personal Facebook account, probably not so much ). The services you signed up with in the previous article ( Twitter, GitHub, etc ) you should connect in with your profile. This does a couple good things for you: It allows you to send your LinkedIn profile to potential employers with jump off links to your other social profiles, and it allows a potential employer to see that not only do you say you are a developer, they can see that you have repositories on GitHub and that you are actively coding for them.
Create profiles on your community websites
All communities have a website somewhere that the main bulk of the community utilizes. Setup a profile on this site ( and any other applicable sites ) and keep it updated. Often people will check to see if you have a profile on your community site and what you have there.
An example from the WordPress world is the .org site. .org is where everyone goes for plugins and themes, not to mention to download WordPress. A .org profile shows what you can do in the community. When Steve was approached by a company for employment the first thing they did was check his WordPress.org user profile to see how active he was in the community, what plugins he had released, and how good his code was.
Setup a website or blog
You need a place online where you can showcase what you are doing, be it a website, portfolio, or a blog. WordPress.com offers 100% free websites that can be customized by you. For small fees you can tack on additional services such as a custom domain (which I recommend ). Though WordPress.com is undeniably the best free website solution out there, do not jump on the bandwagon too quickly. Take a look around your community first. If there is a website solution used in that community be sure to use that. There is nothing worse to me then attending a WordPress conference and finding that the presenter’s website runs on Tumblr, a WordPress competitor. Make sure you use what is accepted by your community.
Stay tuned for the next article , coming out in three days!