Note from Ray: This series is on a very subjective topic, where there are thousands of different opinions. This article reflects Kyle’s views, and not necessarily mine or those from this site. We’d love to hear your own thoughts after you check it out too! :]
When I was interviewed about my company Empirical Development a few months ago, I touched very briefly on our hiring process. Since then I have been bombarded with questions asking for more details about how to successfully apply and interview for an iOS developer job.
You want it, you got it! This is the first part of a three part series on applying and interviewing for an iOS developer job.
- In this first part of the series, you will focus on the applying part of the equation – i.e. preparing your resume and cover letter.
- In this second part of the series, Ray will show you a few examples of some iOS resumes and cover letters he likes that might be useful for reference or models.
- In the third part of the series, you will focus on the interviewing part of the equation – i.e. what types of questions to expect and prepare for, and how to do your best in an interview.
Note that none of these articles will focus on how to get the required iOS skills (although that might be a good follow-up article some day). Let’s assume you’re already a seasoned iOS developer. After all, if you’re reading this blog, that’s a good sign that honing your iOS skills is important to you! :]
Also, none of these articles will focus on where to find iOS jobs (although that’s another good idea for a follow-up). Let’s assume that you know of a company or companies to which you’d like to apply. Most companies have a careers page on their website that lists any openings. Some smaller shops may not, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in receiving applicants!
Over the almost 10 years I have been running an indie Mac and then an iOS shop, I have worked with hundreds of developers, interviewed or screened thousands and hired tens of dozens. Reading this article, you’re going to benefit from much of what I’ve learned. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Preparing Your Resume
Your first task is to prepare a resume. Regardless of your skills, the importance of a good resume can’t be underestimated. Most popular midsized companies get a dozen or more resumes a week (we certainly do), so yours will need to stand out!
Around 90% of the people who apply to work at my companies get turned away based on their resume alone. After all, interviewing someone is a long and involved process and I don’t want to waste my or your time!
Always assume that, whatever the job for which you are interviewing, the person reading your resume is also reading through dozens of other resumes each day. Be respectful of their time while showcasing why you are the best fit for the job. Here are some tips for how to do just that.
What to Do in Your iOS Resume
Similarly, if your Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Tumblrs contain any content you wouldn’t want your boss to see, you should do something about that. Remove that content, restrict your accounts to friends-only or make sure it’s extremely difficult to connect your social media accounts to your name and email address.
In addition to making sure nothing you don’t want employers to see shows up, think about what you do want them to see. A history of blog posts, GitHub contributions, StackOverflow answers, and the like go a long way to establish you as someone who’s serious about your craft.
The sweet spot for resume length is two pages. If you have an extensive job history, that might not be enough space, but try not to exceed three pages.
- Make sure to include your name, address, phone number and email address. I print out every resume I receive and if later on I can’t find contact info, I may not bother to go back through my email.
- Use a professional email address and provider. Nothing says “don’t hire me” like xXxCrazyKid420xXx@Hotmail.com. Likewise, GanstaKilla@aol.com is going straight into the trash. Whether fair or not, I have a subconscious bias against anything Hotmail or Yahoo.
- Carefully separate your personal and professional online personas. One of the first things many employers do is to google your name and/or email address. So if googling either of these returns results of you involved in a flame war over Pokemon, you might want to set up a new email address for job hunting.
- Make sure your objectives are at the top of your resume and that they match the position and culture of the company to which you’re applying. The objectives section is where I look to see if you want to grow as a developer. If I feel that your objective is to collect a paycheck, then it’s probably not going to work out between us. A good objective would demonstrate a good match between your goals and the company you’re applying to’s goals, and that you have a personal interest and passion for iOS development.
- Keep your resume short. The person screening has to go through dozens of resumes a day and you don’t want to make them work harder to get to know you. It can be a good to leave them with questions because that encourages them to reach out to ask you, but remember you need to provide enough info to get them interested.
- List your education, but don’t be too verbose. Include your degree, university and dates attended/graduated. Including honors like Deans List may add something special, but listing every club or society you were a member of is a turnoff. Save that for the interview, if you’re asked.
- List any open source or community contributions, focusing on the most well-known ones if you have a lot. I want to hire people who don’t check out of the iOS community at 5pm. Going to Cocoaheads or conferences in your free time shows me that you care.
- List your development languages and time spent working with them rather than your perceived skill level, which is too subjective. Make sure the languages are relevant – knowing Fortran probably isn’t going to be useful in an iOS job, but Ruby on Rails might.
- Include a list of the products you have shipped, with links. This is the best way to demonstrate a track record of success. Most of the time I just look at the first couple, so make sure your best work is on top. Refrain from listing any apps with a lot of negative reviews, as that stands out at a glance. Usually I will just read the first few reviews and look at the screenshots.
- Keep your job descriptions concise. Two to three sentences describing your duties is probably enough. The older the job, the shorter the description should be. When I’m reading your resume I’m mostly concerned with what you’ve been doing for the last five years. For work older than that, don’t be afraid to just list company name and job title.
- Check your spelling, particularly for key terms. Its Xcode, not xCode or XCode, iOS rather than IOS and iPod touch, not iTouch. When you misspell the names of core tools relating to the job, it makes me think you don’t have the attention to detail or passion I am looking for in an employee.
- Use a filename that identifies yourself. A folder full of files called Resume.pdf makes it hard to look you up to compare with someone else. Try Resume-YourName.pdf instead.
- Use a simple and professional font. It is shocking how many resumes I get in Comic Sans or something equally ridiculous. Regardless of the job you’re seeking, I expect an eye for design, and your resume will show me whether or not you have it.
- Format your resume as a PDF. You have no idea who will have Microsoft Office or Pages, but PDF is universal and will always appear just as you intended.
- Have someone else proofread your resume. Even the best writers and editors can benefit from this. It’s amazing what our own eyes can miss.