Amplifying your online presence for front-end devs
February 24, 2018
Hiring managers are lazy. Trust me I know, because I am one (at least part of the time). As a part of my job I've been the primary person in charge of screening resumes and interviewing candidates both technical and non-technical for a year or so now. My primary job is still a front end developer so finding the bandwidth to go thru resumes is challenging, especially when resumes blend in to each other and don't stand out. I'd rather not phone screen a million candidates with similar resumes to find who is the best fit. Ideally I want the better candidates to shine, or stand out from others in an obvious fashion. Here's my advice to make the job easy for the hiring managers out there by amplifying your online presence.
Just having a personal blog about front-end development shows that a candidate can generally communicate well. This tells me that maybe this person will be able to write a clear email, or explain a topic well in conversation. To boot, being able to teach and explain a subject well typically demonstrates you know that subject well. If you’re applying for a job that requires React, Node, or some other technology that’s in the job description, an ideal thing to do is to write a post on a React or Node topic. Even if its a short post, or beginner-level, it still shows that you know what you’re doing in that arena. Lastly, I also get the idea that you’re passionate and excited about front-end development.
A front-end development blog tells me your passionate and excited about front-end development.
Pro tip: you don’t have to build your own personal blog
Building a fully responsive, great looking website, and managing a database, paying for hosting and a domain name isn’t a small feat. It’s a lot of work. Instead, use an online platform like Linkedin or Medium for your blog posts. You get every single advantage of creating blog posts except you don’t have to spend 60-160 hours designing and developing, redesigning and re-developing your own site. Another interesting thing you can do is guest author a post (or a few posts) on someone else’s web development blog. Many sites are interested in guest posts. For instance, CSS Tricks has a link in their footer for requesting to do a guest post.
Another thing that is really useful is creating a few YouTube videos on a certain topic. This has all the benefits that creating blog does, plus some. Albeit, it may take some more planning and effort than a blog post, but like I said, the ROI is higher. Employers being able to hear the excitement in your voice is priceless. Pick a topic you find yourself learning about and gaining good knowledge on. This is usually the best time to teach it. Or, pick a basic concept like the box model and take your best shot at explaining it. Don’t worry if there’s a ton of videos already out there on this topic. The point is it’s your version at explaining this topic!
Stack Overflow profile
Understandably not everyone is a blogger. However a Stack Overflow profile is an amazing way for developers to stand out. I had a candidate with a 200k score on Stack Overflow once, which was extremely impressive all by itself, but when I looked at the answers he had provided I learned so much about him without ever having to ask an interview question. Based on the questions he answered I had a vivid picture of what his skill set was. I also understood his ability to communicate well and got a good idea that this dev likes helping other devs and will be a great asset to the team. Even a candidate with a much lower score, say 500, with a dozen answers really tells a lot about that person. Almost as much as someone with a 200k score, honestly. Answering questions on Stack Overflow can be challenging but if you can dedicate 30 minutes a day or so for a few weeks, you can really gain some momentum. Another thing to do is if you solve a challenge yourself, feel free to post it to stack overflow and self-answer it. Stack Overflow actually encourages this, according to their FAQ:
It’s also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you’re on Jeopardy! — phrase it in the form of a question.
I recently did exactly that in this question/answer. Others may benefit from it and it demonstrates your problem solving ability and willingness to help out others in the community. This is one of my favorite things to see when hiring.
Linked or Twitter feed
If long form blog and difficult stack questions are not your jam, show your enthusiasm for web dev by posting on Twitter or LinkedIn regularly. Point potential employers to one of these two social media feeds and provide a wealth of information they can use to learn about you.
Can’t think of anything novel to say? Then don’t. You already read tech articles so one easy thing you can do is regurgitate a quote or fact from the article you just read on one of these social media channels. On the BoagWorld podcast episode How to get organised when marketing your business, Paul Boag mentions one technique:
What will happen is…you’ll read an article, there will be some quote that jumps out at you and you’ll think “That’s really cool.” So what you then need to do is not just stop there of going that’s really cool but to turn that into a LinkedIn update, right? Where you quote the bit that you’ve just read and then put a couple of lines about why you think it’s cool and then a link back to the source, and share that.
Paul Boag’s really great advice is in the context of marketing your business, but the same applies to marketing your web development expertise. One article you read can actually be the source of 2-3 Linkedin or Twitter updates that you could spread out over a week. Here’s an example of me trying out this technique:
In regards to the CSS @supports rule: “Having native feature detection in CSS makes it much more convenient to build with cutting-edge CSS for the latest browsers while supporting older browsers at the same time.” – @hj_chen in. 24 Ways article https://t.co/diFLkIJVz1
— Rich Finelli (@rich_ard_f) December 23, 2017
I was pleased to see that when I added the link to my tweet, somehow Twitter sucked in this image of the author automatically.
Turning Twitter or Linkedin into a channel that employers can tune into learn about what you’re passionate and excited about is really useful.
Not a writer and just want to write some code? A nicely designed portfolio site with a good user experience speaks volumes showing off your ability to design, code, and market yourself. I had a candidate with a beautiful, responsive portfolio site with a great user experience and nice UI. When I checked it out under the hood I was thrilled to see this person was using flexbox, HTML5, well-named CSS classes, etc. Their portfolio site was so good, that when the interview started they had already won me over. They had earned plenty of wiggle room if they were nervous or stumbled on a question or two. The proof was in the pudding – or in this case – the proof was in the portfolio site.
If you’re not sure what to put into your portfolio site, or you don’t think you have enough content to put into a site dedicated to yourself, just create a site dedicated to a favorite tv show or video game character. You can demonstrate your design skills, or ability to use a framework or API. Mainly the same benefits as creating a portfolio site but it gives you more content to work with and allows you to show off a little more personality.
When employers scan resumes, their super critical, and making plenty of assumptions – correctly or incorrectly. If you have a link at the top of your resume to one or more of these things a hiring manager can learn some real information about you and make less assumptions This will help you standout and more likely you’ll get the job.
Image credit: Amplifier SVG credit Ben Davis via The Noun Project