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Hack Your Job Search

First Edition · College Graduates · Career Changers · Self-taught Developers

Section I: Getting Tactical About Your Job Search

Section 1: 6 chapters
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Section II: Standing Out From the Crowd

Section 2: 5 chapters
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10. What to Do if You're Still Not Landing Interviews
Written by Jenn Bailey

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After you’ve invested the time and energy to go through all of the steps in this book, it’s natural to hope that you’ll land an interview for your dream job right away. Unfortunately, the road to success isn’t always a straight line. Creating a career, like creating an app, is an iterative process.

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Success is rarely a straight line. There are often many twists and turns along the way.

It’s totally OK if you aren’t getting the interviews you hope for. It’s possible that you’re just facing a crowded job market and you need to stay the course, or it could be that your presentation is missing the mark and you need to make some changes. How do you know the difference? This chapter will help.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to take a closer look at your process, improving your chances of getting chosen for an interview. You’ll take another look at your resume and portfolio, learn about some common mistakes that applicants make and get tips for stepping up your game. You’ll also learn how to manage your emotions and make a longer-than-expected job hunt sustainable.

What You’ll Learn

  • To identify common mistakes that job applicants make and learn strategies to avoid them.
  • How to request feedback and implement it in your application process.
  • Tips to make yourself a stronger applicant.
  • The importance of managing your emotions during a long job hunt and learn strategies for making it sustainable.
  • How to implement a continuous improvement process for your job search.

You’ll start by learning about common job application mistakes to ensure you’re not making any of them.

How to Recognize and Avoid Common Job Application Mistakes

Many times, there’s only a razor-thin difference between getting a call for an interview and being passed over. That difference may come from a common mistake you don’t realize you’re making. In this section, you’ll learn many of these easy-to-make errors and how to troubleshoot your approach to make sure you’re not doing them.

1. Not Tailoring Your Resume for the Position

Some people send the same resume every time they apply for a role. There are even services that will send a generic resume to open roles automatically. This is, however, a terrible tactic.

2. Not Sending a Customized Cover Letter

A cover letter is your chance to pique your potential employer’s interest, so it’s important to get it right. Keep them focused and to the point, and don’t be shy — you want them to have an impact. Talk yourself up and show a bit of personality.

3. Your Resume Isn’t Easy to Scan

As mentioned above, the person who decides whether to advance you to the next step or not is very busy. You need to ensure that they can scan your resume so they can see the information they need at a glance.

4. Not Optimizing Your LinkedIn Account

Today, many companies and recruiters find their candidates through LinkedIn. If your LinkedIn account isn’t optimized — or if you don’t have one at all — now’s the time to get it in shape.

5. Not Asking for Recommendations on LinkedIn

Another powerful way to use LinkedIn is as a way to gather positive feedback about your abilities in the tech field.

Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. Be ready to write some in return.
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Gathering and Incorporating Feedback

Once you’ve updated your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, it’s time to ask for feedback. A second set of eyes turns up improvements to your application process you’d never think of, like ways to better highlight your skills, new skills to learn or tips to improve your presentation. Plus, hearing other perspectives allows you to see what assumptions employers are making when they read your profile.

Stepping up Your Game

If you haven’t seen the results you wanted yet, it might be time to consider which areas you can put more effort into to increase your chances of success. Even if you followed all the steps in this book, there might be areas you haven’t taken full advantage of yet. Here are some ideas for ways to up your game.

Learn New Skills

In tech, it’s important to keep expanding your skill set, whether you have a job or not. You might feel like you’ve just invested a lot in learning skills, but to stay up to date, you need to keep growing.

Expanding Your Network

Your network is the most powerful tool you can use. If you haven’t been nurturing this resource, now’s the time to pay it some extra attention.

Improving Your Reputation

In Chapter 8, “Building in Public”, you explored many ways to enhance your portfolio and put your skills out there for all to see. Now, look for ways you can expand on that work. For instance, if you gave a workshop, could you give it in more places? Could you transform it into a talk? Record it and post it on YouTube? Be sure to reuse what you’ve created wherever possible.

Managing Your Emotions During a Challenging Job Search

When your job search doesn’t go as planned, it’s grueling to keep applying, especially when the perfect companies haven’t returned your interest. If you’ve made it this far in the book, you’ve invested a lot, so it’s painful to not land an interview right away. However, as life coach Steven Redhead said, “The difference between success and failure is not giving up”.

Dealing With Disappointment

Searching for your first junior developer position is difficult. It puts you through a stressful cycle of hope and disappointment. Know that you’re not alone — many job seekers have experienced this. If you’re serious about your new career, you must fight to stay positive and stay the course. Here are some ways to do it:

Sustaining Your Job Search

To keep job searching, you may have to meet certain financial demands. If landing an interview for a junior dev role is taking longer than expected, you might need to diversify your search — and that’s totally OK. Many successful developers took a few detours before getting their first developer job.

Expanding Your Search

If you aren’t finding your perfect tech role right away, a good option is to look for tech-adjacent roles that build your skills and fuel your resume — all while bringing in a paycheck.

Alternatives to Full-Time Jobs

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect dev job, you might consider bringing in money to sustain your search with a part-time role or a paid internship. Both of these will supplement your income and help you gain experience.

Implementing a Continuous Improvement Process for Your Job Search

Keep in mind that preparing to get a job isn’t a one-and-done task — it’s a journey. You can think of your job hunt like an app: You don’t simply publish an app and ignore it. You use feedback to improve it. You incorporate the latest technology to optimize it. You look for new ways to market it and find a bigger audience. Your job search works the same way.


Key Takeaways

  • The job search can be a daunting process, but you can overcome the challenge — it only takes one “yes”.
  • The market can ebb and flow — revise your expectations if needed, and keep trying.
  • There can be many steps between where you are and where you want to be — any step toward your goal is the right direction.
  • Getting a job is like any other skill — you improve through practice.
  • Feedback is a valuable tool to refine your approach and perfect your resume, LinkedIn and portfolio.

Action Plan

  • Review your application materials and make sure that they show your strengths, are up to date, are easy to read and are free of typos.
  • Identify three people that could act as mentors on your journey. Reach out to them to review your application materials.
  • Ask one developer from your network to provide feedback on your portfolio.
  • Identify one job search strategy you haven’t utilized yet that you can put into action.
  • Research one cutting-edge skill that you can learn and add to your portfolio.
Have a technical question? Want to report a bug? You can ask questions and report bugs to the book authors in our official book forum here.
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