Prepping for What Employers Want

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What makes a good developer, at least in an employer’s eyes? For better or worse, it’s about more than programming abilities: Most companies expect their developers to not only demonstrate the necessary skillsets for building software, but collaborate and interact with colleagues.

Here’s a breakdown of some key things employers are generally looking for, so you can accordingly tailor your C.V., social media profiles, and job-interview prep:

Soft Skills

“Soft skills” is one of those buzzwords that make developers roll their eyes, but companies tend to weigh heavily an applicant’s ability to play well with others, so to speak. Developers who work for companies need to communicate with stakeholders, clients, and bosses on a regular basis; as a result, much of the application process will be geared toward judging your aptitude for collaboration and communication.

Before applying for a job or heading in for an interview, sit down and list your strongest soft skills (your ability to negotiate, for example, or your aptitude for listening). In another column, list your weakest ones. Prepare stories that show how you’ve utilized the former to make your company better, and how you’ve improved (or are trying to improve) on the latter.

Prep for Skill Testing

When was the last time you took a whack at a whiteboard problem? Chances are pretty good that an interviewer will ask you to tackle a couple of technical challenges before offering the job. Fortunately, tackling problems is what developers do best; the big question is how to best deal with those questions for which you don’t know the answer.

Bulk Out Your Online Presence

Recruiters and HR staffers don’t just scan C.V.s; they also look at online resources such as GitHub for examples of the candidate’s work. If you spend a lot of time on forums and repositories, it’s imperative that you keep your presence clean and your code up-to-date; you never know who might be looking.

In a similar vein, angling your social-media profiles to highlight your skills is a good way to draw employer attention. For example, many developers provide a few words about their skillsets and experience as part of their Twitter profile description.

Show Success on Your Résumé

It’s one thing to list your skills and job history on your résumé and/or C.V.; the important thing—and it’s what employers are looking for—are your accomplishments. When updating your materials, take the time to show how every bullet-point resulted in a tangible achievement.

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