Everyone has their own views on writing a good CV. What it should include and how long it should be. I can only give you my opinion and I will add, I will be filming a short Lighting Talk on this topic which in time I will share.
However, for now here’s a few tips.
I would like to close on saying one final thing; Your CV doesn’t have to fit in one page! Remember, this is your first impression to the manager, trying to cram your experience into a page simply isn’t realistic. Try to keep it between 1 - 3 pages, make sure it reads well, is grammatically correct and presentable.
I will cover more bits in the Lightning Talk I am planning.
There are many different job application platforms and some will allow you to add a personal cover letter, others won’t. My advice on this, is if you have an invested interest in the sector/industry or company, mention this in your cover note.
It should be 2-3 paragraphs, highlighting your relevance to the job description, if you completed a project at Uni that was similar or the fact you have always followed the industry due to a personal passion.
Whatever it is, if you really want that role and to work in that company, an extra hour to make your first impression stand out and be personal, put it in a cover letter.
Go the extra mile when applying to the role. A nice touch is to go on LinkedIn and view the company, find the hiring manager or HR/Recruitment partner and maybe add them as a connection with a note highlighting why you have applied and you eagerly await their response. It’s a small touch but makes you stand out and goes a long way. If they have an email address on the Job Advert, pop them over an email in the same manner.
It’s an obvious one, but you can still never beat the power of a reference. If a person has managed, or been a senior to you in the past and they are willing to write you a quick reference you can add into your CV, on your LinkedIn or have on a separate file in case it is requested, this can be a very powerful tool.
This is someone putting their reputation on the line to highlight your strengths and it will not only allow the person wanting to know more about you to understand your technical abilities, but also your personality and soft skills.
There’s a few different ways to do this. Everyone will have their preference and make sure you do what’s right for you. However, if you are looking for work, then make sure you try to do at least one or some of these though.
I have to start with a plug to the Djangonaut Space. This is an amazing example of a mentorship programme which helps set you up for relevant industry experience through contributing to open source code (put it on your CV). Not only is this platform free, but their programme places an emphasis on group-learning, sustainability and longevity. It’s worth noting that they release the programme quarterly (circa) and there are a limited number of spaces available.
There are other key influential developers I have spoken with that also give up their time to help people find work, improve skills and become a better developer. Never be afraid to reach out to someone who is advertising their experience to help you! They were also in your position once and wouldn’t be offering their time if they didn’t want to help.
Speak to local Universities about groups, programmes or even access to professors. It sounds like a slightly unusual way to get a mentor, however, if you have completed a degree then you will understand a lot of the lecturers have either worked in an industry environment or know people that do and they are a fountain of knowledge.
Even if you didn’t go down the University route, reaching out to the right people will help you and you will not be ignored. If they work at a University, the individual will be a welcoming person who set out to help others learn. Make that you!
Now this may sound a bit ironic, “I wouldn’t be reading this if I was in a job getting work experience”, I get that, but this is a different twist. Clearly you are looking for a permanent role, that isn’t easy to get in the current economic situation, however, there are other ways to get “work experience” without it being permanent... (Yet!)
Apply to internships. These are a great way to get your foot in the door, prove your skills and ability to be a part of a team. That short term loss in earnings could result in your securing your first job. The number of developers I have spoken to that completed an internship and were offered a full time role of the back of it, is staggering.
Find Django Software Foundation members, Django companies, web agencies or others and ask for work experience. Clearly not every company will have the time to help you or offer you free work experience, but there is no harm in asking. Sometimes they may need some support on a project which you can learn on, whilst offering them free support. A win win for both you and the company, again, increasing the chance of you securing something full time in the future.
Offer your skills to local companies. Speak with local charity shops, small businesses, local councils or tech4good support groups. Can you help develop an app, write a new feature or build a website for them? It’s a great feel good action, helps you get experience and looks great on your CV.
Finally, contract to perm. Universities, start ups, even global organisations all seek contractors. Although this may not be your dream full time role, its a good way to get industry experience and up-skill yourself at the same time. Again, this is another way to get your foot in the door and increase the chance of securing a permanent role with the company.
Follow all the companies you interact with, when they post new roles in the future, you
should be the first to know.
Do you attend Django meetups? If not, why not? These are a great way to socialise within the Django community and meet other developers and leaders/managers that sometimes recruit people. Getting one on one face time with these individuals gives you a chance to introduce yourself in person, build rapport and build a relationship with someone who may review your CV or need help in the future.
Again, exactly like meetups, try to attend conferences. Sometimes these cost money, I appreciate that. However, if you can spare money to smoke a vape pen or eat that weekend cheat meal, how about investing in your future instead? Hey, eat all the kebabs you want in the future when you’ve secured that job. I’ve been extremely fortunate to attend a number of Django Conferences and meet some of the developers who have attended. Not only will I remember them every time I have a new role - but I also can see the ones who are highly motivated to learn and continue to develop their own skills. Again, put your attendance in your CV, along with any talks you may have done. I should also note that most organisers will offer discounted tickets for people out of work and opportunities to apply for travel grants, so always take a look on the website for the conference.
I hope this helps. I wrote this as I really want ambitious developers who are hungry to learn to succeed. You may feel that some of these points are ridiculous and that’s fine, this is only my opinion on how to improve your chances of getting that first Django Developer job. As I said at the beginning, if you only take one of these tips and use it to help you in your search, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. This is the first article I have written at Foxley Talent and I aim to do more over 2024, however, your feedback would be greatly appreciated.