When applying for a job

The Kernel ran an interesting piece on the state of the tech recruitment industry last week; one post highlighted some of the more questionable practices of recruiters. One of these ‘scams’ was adjusting candidates CVs which they shouldn’t do without getting the candidates permission, but I can understand why they might.  I’ve spent a good portion of time over the last two weeks going over the applications for our open positions at Knowsis. The hiring process is not something I enjoy and something that could have be made easier by the candidates thinking a bit for themselves.

If you’re applying for jobs, especially those of you who are just about to graduate, I’d suggest you make sure you think about the following:

1. Filenames

Don’t call it cv.pdf (or resume.doc) – you are asking for it to get lost/overwritten at the first step in the process. You may only have one CV on your computer but your prospective employer has hundreds of them on theirs.

Make sure at the very least, the filename contains your full name and even better the position you’re applying for.

2. Covering Note

Include one. Tell the employer why you want to work for them, how you found the job,  it will make you stand out. You’ll look less like someone who couldn’t be bothered and just fired off their standard CV that they send to everyone.

Make sure the covering letter is part of the same file as your CV. Having it as a separate file or only in the original email means it may get misplaced, forgotten about or ignored.

3. Tailor the CV for the job

As above, if you want to stand out make it look less like a standard CV that you send to everyone and more applicable for the position you are applying for.  Make sure the most relevant information that the employer mentioned in the job description is highlighted.

4. Length

Dont make your CV too long. Two or three pages should be enough to get the message across. If you have gone over remove the things that aren’t necessary or less interesting. Don’t make the prospective employer sift through all of your summer jobs since you were 16, if they aren’t relevant leave them out. Some other points:

  • Don’t use massive fonts.
  • Don’t use excessive line spacing, gutters and margins
  • Don’t include a photo that takes up 1/4 of a page

5. Add a Footer

Add a page number and your name to the bottom of every page. That way, if a page gets misplaced it’s easier to spot and doesn’t look like you disappeared without a trace for 10 years. It also means if a random page is found it’s easier to know where it came from without having to try and match up based on the formatting.

6. Hobbies

Unless it’s wholly relevant to the job, leave out the interests section. I honestly doubt that there are any employers would be sold on your penchant for ferret racing or samurai sword collecting.

7. Represent yourself on-line

If there are things you’ve left out of your CV following points 3 and 4, make sure they are still available online somewhere and include a link to it in your CV. There’s plenty of places you can create a professional profile such as LinkedIn which will allow you to maintain a full record of employment, recommendations and skills for anyone to see.  In fact if you don’t know how to create a CV you can fill out all your details on LinkedIn and use their resume builder to automatically format a CV file for you

Developers, create yourselves a Github account, use it to show some of the interesting things you’ve written or any open source projects you’ve committed to.

If you’re working in another digital profession it’s also sensible to have a portfolio of your work available for employers to see.

8. Lock down your social networks

This is just general advice really but make sure that your Facebook profile is only visible to your friends. Prospective employers are now regularly checking Facebook and other social networks to see what their prospective candidates are like in real life and whilst some employers probably wouldn’t hold it against you many others probably will.


Anything Else?

If there are any bug bears you’ve experienced whilst hiring that I have missed out, add it into the comments and I’ll update the post

My Datsusara Journey Begins

Datsusara (脱サラ) is the Japanese term used to describe leaving life as a salaryman and moving on to do something completely different. It’s not used in the case of moving for more money, out of boredom or due to termination of employment; it’s used to exemplify the act of pursuing a childhood dream or having a moment of inspiration that leads to a completely different career path.

As you may have worked out by now, this post is about me moving on from my current role as Product Manager at 7digital after almost 5 years there to start a company, Knowsis, with two friends . The reasons for me leaving are very much in line with the principles of Datsusara – starting a company is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and a few things have happened recently which have made me realise that there is never going to be a right time to do these things and we need to get out there and Just Do It™ 

Oh, and if anyone has a spare meeting room or some desk space in Central London that we can borrow for the whole day on Wednesday this week it would be much appreciated.

The Cost of Free

I’ve been stung several times of late where someone has offered something for free or way below the market value and the goods were never produced. In fact, if I’m totally honest I’ve done the same thing to someone else in the past…I think they call it karma!

If someone gives you something and says that they don’t want anything in return that’s great. They’re probably lying and will call a favour in the future, but the goods are in hand and it cost you nothing right now. However, if someone promises to produce something in the future for a lot less than the going rate or free, you need to ask yourself whether it’s the right thing to do.

If they aren’t getting paid then they’re likely to be less motivated to do the work. Sure, there may be exceptions to this but if your boss asked you to work unsupervised and free for a day, a week, a month – would you do it? Would you honestly put your whole heart into it?

And in the meantime, if they get offered work which will pay them, they are more likely to put your work to the back of the queue in favour of getting paid. It’s a natural reaction, we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed (even if it is just your own).

In many cases the reason for wanting it cheap or free are to do with funding. In a bootstrapping start up it’s hard if not impossible to pay the full market rate for everything. But can you really afford to get it done for free?

If it takes 6 weeks before it becomes apparent that the work won’t be done or completed to a satisfactory level, you have just lost 6 weeks. For some people this may be ok, but if it could seriously affect your market advantage or delay your product launch can you really afford that. You will still need to find someone else to do that work for you and you will probably end up paying over the odds to make back your lost time.

I’m not saying that all offers of free or cheap work are going to cause you headache but you need to look at how critical the work is, how important it is to your strategy, what a delay in getting the work done would do and ask yourself whether it would be better to just pay someone, get a contract and keep your peace of mind.

Amazon acquire Lovefilm

After being the major shareholder since 2008, Amazon have apparently bought out the remaining shares in a deal thought to value Lovefilm at £312 million.

See Techcrunch Post for more details

I imagine this is part of a content play for Europe in preparation for the rumoured Amazon Android tablet along with their App store which I expect will ultimately become something akin to iTunes.

Removing sites from Google Search

If, like me, you hate experts-exchange.com results appearing in your google search results, you can use this bookmarklet to remove them.

var query;
var regexS = "[\\?&]"+"q"+"=([^&#]*)";
var regex = new RegExp( regexS );
var results = regex.exec( window.location.href );
if( results == null ){query = "";}
else{query = results[1];}
query =  query + " -site:experts-exchange.com";
document.location = "http://www.google.com/search?q=" + query;

Early to bed and early to rise…

…makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Matt from work pointed me at an iPhone app last week called SleepCycle. It monitors your sleep patterns and can ‘apparently’ improve your morning state by waking you up at the most opportune moment, i.e. when you are in the lightest stage of sleep.

The iPhone needs to be placed on the bed while you sleep and uses the accelerometer to monitor your restlessness or lack thereof to work out how deeply you are sleeping. The first couple of days are used for calibration so it can ‘learn’ what kind of sleeper you are.

After the first night using the app I was quite surprised by the resulting sleep graph. I do distinctly remember being awake a couple of times during the night which you can clearly see on the graph around 4am and 6am. I was also surprised to see that i had gone to sleep so quickly as I feel like I normally spend ages trying to get to sleep.

I’m interested to see how it goes over the next few days and whether it makes me a ‘better’ person in the mornings!