Jennifer Bland, Software Engineer: Code Presentation + Job Attraction Tips for Developers

Jennifer Bland, Software Engineer: Code Presentation + Job Attraction Tips for Developers

How to craft an attention-worthy LinkedIn profile and utilize GitHub code presentation tips for maximum hireability.

Jennifer Bland is software developer at CNN, with 15 years' of programming experience. She's also an author and has trained with two coding bootcamps toward evolving her skill set as back-end engineer to a full stack, front-end Javascript developer. You can catch her climbing mountains (literally!), training new developers to refine their tech interviewing competency through her second project site CodePrep (still in production), or traveling.

In this Codecast, Jennifer shares history behind her career evolution decisions, vital takeaways on refining your LinkedIn profile to be sought after by recruiters, and awesome GitHub tips for solid documentation and presentation of your repository projects.

Key Theme » Strategic Attraction

”When you’re looking at jobs that are posted out there, what you’ll find is only about 20% of the jobs posted are available. I got three job offers after I graduated from a bootcamp – none of those three jobs were actually advertised online anywhere...You’re basically looking at 80% of the jobs [that] aren’t [being] advertised online – so you want to be able to do something to attract that hidden 80% of the job market.” – Jennifer Bland

Quotes

”LinkedIn is your way of ‘being in the fight.’ ”

”You want to make it easy for them (recruiters) to find you so they will end up hiring you.”

”Once I came in for an interview, my GitHub profile was set so that it was in a perfect position for them to actually see the skill sets that I had and I think that was very helpful in me getting a job.”

The Codecast

Watch on YouTube

Full Episode » Transcribed

ERIK

Alright, we’re live!

I’m really excited to welcome everyone here who is listening and of course, Jennifer who is going to be speaking with us. This is well-timed for the students, those of you who are taking the full time program right now since you guys are ramping up into job mode. Jennifer has a long background of programming, but actually went through a bootcamp, which hopefully she’ll be able to talk a little bit about, and has learned a lot about how you can sort of market yourself and optimize what you have out there in your digital presence to get yourself in the door – once you’ve had an experience like this.

I’m really excited to welcome Jennifer. Jennifer, thank you for coming here. I know you have some stuff planned out, so I think from here I’ll just leave this in your hands, and take it away.

JENNIFER

Thank you very much. I went through and shared my screen – is everybody seeing my screen okay?

ERIK

I see the infinite reality.

(Laughter)

JENNIFER

Yes, it just went into that, when I shared my screen. I am going to change over to this. As Erik said, my name is Jennifer Bland, I am a software engineer working for CNN here in Atlanta, Georgia. A little information about my background: I used to be a computer programmer for over ten years, and my specialty was Lotus Notes (now IBM Notes) programming, and even when I was doing programming, IBM hired me to write a book on programming. So if you’ve ever read the book Developing E-Business Applications using Lotus Domino on the AS400, I wrote that book. Make sure you go out and get it! It makes a great Christmas gift, coffee table book type presentation. But I wrote that for IBM, they flew me up to their headquarters and I lived in a hotel for six weeks, and actually wrote that book for them.

I got out of programming simply because Lotus Notes kind of went into a decline and I went into another area in my life. The last job that I had, I was working in the training department at Aarons, which is the rent-to-own, lease-to-own company that might have stores in your location? I was working on creating training classes for our employees to show them how to do their job, whether they are the employees in the store or whatnot. A little over a year ago I walked into a Barnes & Noble and they had the clearance books on a table, right as you walked in the door, and I picked up a book on JavaScript programming for one dollar.

I spent a month working through that book and just learning JavaScript programming. I remembered how much of a passion I had for programming when I was doing it, and I decided to go back into programming and get away from what I was doing currently. I attended a bootcamp that is based out of California and I did their online version, so I did everything online from here in Atlanta. Then, once I graduated – I graduated June 20th of last year – July 20th I started working for CNN and I have been working for them ever since.

That gives you a little bit of information about myself, and what I wanted to share with you tonight is my firsthand experience of coming out of a bootcamp, basically changing career paths like most of you that introduced yourself already are doing the exact same thing, and what I did to be able to improve my chances in getting a job – and then getting multiple job offers after I graduated.

I am going to go through – and instead of doing the slide full screen – I’m going to just show you the slides and then I’m going to jump over and actually show you everything in a firsthand manner, so that you understand it.

LinkedIn and GitHub – utilize both for the job hunt.

I’ll go ahead and get started. Tonight I’m going to talk about LinkedIn and GitHub – why they’re important for you in your job hunt process. Most of the time what you’re going to use is LinkedIn. If you are a hiring manager and you’re looking for a position or if you’re an HR person in a company, you will go out and do a search on LinkedIn to find potential candidates to fill that job. Recruiters also use it – LinkedIn has a thing that recruiters will use to do that and I actually will show you how you can use your LinkedIn profile so that you’ll be more attractive to HR managers and to recruiters, and anybody else that’s looking to fill a job position.

Some of the best position go unlisted (are hidden).

When you’re looking at jobs that are posted that are out there, what you’ll find is only about 20% of the jobs that are posted are available. I got three job offers after I graduated from a bootcamp – none of those three jobs were actually advertised online anywhere. I actually went through recruiters for them, so you’re able to use a resource that these people are using since you’re basically looking at 80% of the jobs aren’t out there being advertised online, so you want to be able to do something to attract that hidden 80% of the job market.

(Good) Recruiters are also a doorway to hiring managers.

When you’re looking at LinkedIn, the number one thing that recruiters will use to find people to fill positions is they have a product that’s called LinkedIn Recruiter. It’s a paid product that recruiters will use. Hiring managers and HR people will actually use pretty much the same functionality that LinkedIn Recruiter provides. If you’re looking to get a job, depending on where you are in the country, some companies use recruiters, some people don’t, regardless of where they are. If you are using a recruiter I will tell you from experience, if you’re using a recruiter and the recruiter asks you to pay them to find you a job – run away, don’t walk, run away!

All good recruiters are paid by the company themselves – so you should not be paying a recruiter!

When you look at what they’re using to find potential candidates, they’re going to be using an advanced people search and there all these things that you can search on. As you go through and fill out your LinkedIn profile, I’ll show you how to put things in so that when they do these searches you’re actually going to have your profile set up so that you will end up being shown in these searches. That puts you in the hands of people that are doing the hiring, and like Bill Walsh the great football coach says, “before you can run the fight you’ve got to be in the fight.”

LinkedIn is your way of “being in the fight!” When you go out and look at a LinkedIn profile on the far right you’re going to see what your level of your profile is. I’m going to flip over here and if I look at my profile, right here on the right you’ll see the profile strength and I’m listed as an “All-Star.” There are five different levels that you have, in order to get to All-Star (which is the highest) there’s several requirements that you must have. By going in and meeting all seven of these requirements, you’re also meeting all the things that people will be doing when they’re doing their job search.

Crafting your “All-Star” LinkedIn Profile

Step 1 – Professional Picture

The first thing that you’re going to need is a profile picture. Here’s an example of some profile pictures, all valid profile pictures. They are not what you want to put into your LinkedIn profile. For example if you see here, here is my LinkedIn profile, it kind of looks like a professional headshot but: the way that I got this is I did this through Fiverr.

If you’re not familiar with Fiverr, there is a website called Fiverr.com Any type of product that you want to buy on Fiverr costs five bucks, which is why it’s called Fiverr – there is a guy here that will basically do Photoshop editing of anything that you want to have, and I’ll give you an example of something that he did for me just this past week.

Here’s a picture of my mother who is writing a children’s book and she needs a professional headshot – so this was a picture that I took of my mother. As you can see as an 80 year old woman she’s starting to see a little bit of signs of aging, you can see some of the wrinkles showing up and everything else like that. I sent the picture to this guy – this is what I got back from him in two days and it cost me ten bucks, because I paid five bucks extra to get it back pretty quickly. He touched up the picture, did all the editing and put everything in there correctly for her.

What you want to do is if you don’t have a good profile picture, then, have somebody just take a picture with an iPhone or something like that. Then send it to this guy, and he will remove the background and then he will touch it up professionally and then you can put whatever background that you want into your profile picture.

Step 2 – Industry + Location

Then the next thing that you want to do is you want to have an industry and location – that’s the second requirement you have for meeting your All-Star profile. If I flip back over here, in here on my profile you’ll see where it has your location and what industry that you’re in. Your location is based off of the zip code. Now, if you plan on working in a different area than where you’re living right now. So, for example, right now I live in Atlanta. If I wanted to get a job in New York and I want to job hunt in New York, make sure that the zip code that you put in here is for New York – don’t put it for Atlanta – put it for where you want to actually look for a job. What it will do is it will come up and it will give you the geographic area that you’re in, and then you give your industry.

For most of us, graduating from a bootcamp being programmers, our industry is going to be “Information Technology and Services.” Now that you’ve got that, that’s the second step that you need for an All-Star profile.

Step 3 – Current Position

The next thing that you need is a current position. What you can have for your current position is you can tell that you’re actually looking for a new job. That’s a very good key to put in for anybody that’s looking to hire – whether it be a recruiter, an HR (person), the hiring manager. If they see that note they know that’s somebody that’s actively looking, and they’re more willing to approach you.

For example, right here in my current job, right now I have it set to CNN because that’s where I’m working. What you might do is you would put in that you’re a student and that you’re actively looking for a new position. You would have that information in for your current job. For your description, you can put in, you can basically put in that I’m currently for my next opportunity to work as a software engineer or a front-end engineer or a back-end engineer, or a full stack engineer after graduating. One of the things that people can search on are certain keywords. When you put in your actual title that you have available in here, so I have “Software Engineer.”

What you might want to do is actually put into your title keywords that people might be searching on. I’ll give you some examples on that. Here is somebody that I know that put in – here’s the description of where they are – they put in that they’re “Full Stack Engineer with “Angular, React, Node, Express and JavaScript technologies. There are six keywords that she put in there: full stack, software engineer, angular, react, node, express” and other JavaScript technologies.

This person does the exact same thing, she formats it a little bit differently. So instead of doing comma separated, she does the pipe symbol in there to separate out that this is what she’s experienced with, and these are fields that people can actually search on. When you create your current position, make sure that you stuff it with keywords that when people search they’re going to be able to find you by having that information that’s in there.

Step 4 – Past Positions

The next thing that you’re going to have to have is your two past positions that you worked at. If you’ve only had maybe one job before you attended a bootcamp, break that down into two past positions, that is a requirement to have an All-Star profile is that you have to have two past positions. If you’ve only had one job, you can break it into multiple positions, like you were an entry level position and then you were promoted to something else. It’s the same company – but you’re basically putting it in there as two different things based on your requirements that you have in there.

If that job has nothing to do with programming, then make sure that you stuff it with things that people want to have in a potential employee – fast learner, good communication skills, those types of keywords you want to have. You can put that information into your two past positions. If you look at mine, I have my previous – I have a little bit more work experience – so I have all my previous work experience listed in here and in detail that’s available. You also have the opportunity of putting keywords because when people search that’s one of the things that they’ll be able to search on.

Step 5 – Education

The next thing that you’re going to have is your education. Education is listed in reverse chronological order, so the last thing that you had from an education standpoint is listed first. If you attended but you didn’t graduate college, be sure to put that in there. If you never attended college, make sure that you put in that your bootcamp is there for your education. If you’ve done any additional self-taught training like Code School, Codecademy, Udemy, Udacity, or Lynda, be sure to put that into your education so you have that available to the users.

Step 6 – Skills

The next thing that you want to have is your Skills. the skills is one of the biggest things that you want to have available to you. You have to have a minimum of three and when I’m talking about skills – if you scroll down past my work experience – here are the skills that I’m talking about. The way LinkedIn does this, by default you can put in any skills that you want. The first ten are listed here and the first ten by default are shown in order of how many endorsements that you have. That’s the default value that’s available to you.

You do have the option of coming in here and actually changing this around so that you can move, if you have something let’s say, WordPress, I have only had three people that have given me endorsements. But I want to get a job that’s doing WordPress development. I might want to move this up here, so I can change the order around. If you come in here and you start editing it, what you want to do is you want to be able to have all your (skills listed) and you can click on these and drag them around. As you drag them around it changes the order, so once you start changing the order they are no longer ordered by the number of endorsements you have, but instead their ordered by the order that’s important to you – and you want to show those top ten available to you.

Get endorsed to tip off Recruiters.

The other thing that you want to have in here is I want to be endorsed. By default this is set to “no”, you need to change that to “yes.” The reason you change it to “yes” is that when you go visit somebody’s profile, when you first look at somebody’s profile right above their picture, right above their name you’ll get a box asking you, do you want to endorse this person for these skill sets and in that box what LinkedIn does, is it shows you the top five skills that you’ve put in. If you want certain areas that are most important to you, and jobs that you want to get, make sure that the five most important ones are listed first and they’re available there. Then you want to show suggestions to your connections so that they will endorse you. If you want to get notified anytime that somebody endorses you, you can check this last one so that you can have it out here.

You can have as many things out there, I think the limit is 30 or 40 skill sets that you can have, but you can make them generic. You can have HTML as a skill set, you can have HTML 5 as a skill set, CSS, CSS 3, those are four different skill sets that you can have out there and when people search, one of the fields that they can search on are skills and by having HTML, HTML 5, CSS, CSS 3, you can hit pretty much anything that somebody might be searching on when they’re trying to fulfill a job. That’s what you’re trying to accomplish – is that you want to make it easy for them to find you so that they can put your resume in front of the hiring manager that’s trying to fill an open position. So, go in and put these in.

If you’re working through a recruiter the LinkedIn recruiter has a feature that if somebody’s profile starts to get a lot of endorsements it sends a notification to the recruiter to let them know, so what I recommend doing is select the skill sets. Set up all the skill sets you want, in the order that you want then have everybody in your class go in and endorse you for the exact skill sets that you want. As soon as everybody in your class starts endorsing you, then that will send notifications to recruiters and they’ll start looking at your profile and that’s what you want to do. You want to make it easy for them to find you so they will end up hiring you.

Step 7 – 50 Connections

Then the next thing that you’re going to need – and usually this is the most challenging for people that are first starting out with LinkedIn – is that you have to have 50 connections. It’s not as daunting as it might seem if you don’t have 50 already, take everybody that’s in your class and have all of them become a connection that gets you started going towards the 50. Contact people that have already graduated from school and say “hey, I’m in process of going through the hiring process – could you help me out and endorse me?” I’m sure they’ll do that, get your friends, get your family, get your fellow co-workers of jobs you used to have in there. If you attended any school, contact people that you went to school with and say, “can you be a connection for me?” All you need is 50, that’s the last requirement that you have.

If you want, connect with me and I’ll be glad to be a connection for you and actually will do all the endorsements for you, just let me know what skill sets you want and I’ll go through and I’ll do that.

Some Useful Extras

Your Summary

The last thing that I want to do, is you have an option in your LinkedIn profile, you have a “Summary” and looking at your profile, your summary is up here at the very top. It has all the information about yourself and what you’re experienced with and whatnot. When I go through and I look at mine, I will go in and actually edit mine because it’s a little bit more detailed than what’s in here.

It says: here’s a place where you can find my resume, here’s my website, then here’s some information about myself and then I start doing the keyword stuffing. I am a full stack, I’m a software engineer, I have experience with the MEAN stack and then I start listing out all the information about what I have experience with. Then I break it down. I say here are the languages I’m familiar with, here are the frameworks, here are the testing, here are the tools. So you start to see how I can put all this information in so that when somebody does a search, they’re going to find that. They’re going to find me because I’ve put that information up here in my description. I’ve put it in here in my summary, my current job experience – I put it in there, also. You put in all the information on your summary and then you have a list of projects that you worked on.

Projects

Let me scroll down here in my profile, here are some projects that I worked on when I was in my bootcamp and it says here’s SnapIt, this is a project that we worked on and if I edit this, you put a name, you can put in the date but the URL. Make sure the URL is linked directly to your GitHub profile that has that project in it – so somebody can easily click on it and go directly into your profile and see it. Then you come in here and you can give a short description. This is another place where you can put keywords that people are going to search on so that you can have that in there to talk about. You can put in as many projects that you’ve worked on so that people can actually see what you’ve done and what you have available to you.

Customizing the order of profile sections.

Then the last thing that you have on here is that you can actually change the order of the information that’s being displayed on the screen. If I didn’t want my work experience to come first, let’s say I wanted my skill sets to come first – you have this option to move things up and down to arrange the order that they’re displayed. Make sure you put it in the correct order. So I have my work experience, then when you scroll down past my work experience, I’ve got my projects that are in there and then I’ve got my skill sets, my education is kind of towards the bottom. Then, here’s my documentation on what documents I’ve actually written, what books. I’m also a real estate investor so I’ve written several books on that. Then my certifications, which aren’t very relevant so they’re towards the bottom that I have in my profile. But, you have the option of changing the order of anything that’s in your profile to be in the correct order.

Mine is pretty long, somebody may not want to scroll down that much. So, I put the most important stuff down there which are my experience and my skill sets. Those are the things they’re going to see first off when they come in here.

Any questions so far on what I’ve covered on LinkedIn?

ERIK

As a note, you guys can use the Q&A app as well, it should be in your Google Hangouts.

STUDENT Q: [Andrew]

I guess I had a question about connections. When you invite others to connect or invite – there’s certain categories, “invite as friend”, “invite as classmate” and “the other” If you don’t fit – if the person doesn’t fit into any of those categories you have to supply their email?

JENNIFER

Correct.

STUDENT Q: [Andrew]

If somehow their email is inaccessible, I’m just wondering if it would be appropriate to just invite as a friend, would that be stepping over some boundary, professional boundaries or anything?

JENNIFER

I would say, I have several thousand people that I’m connected to on LinkedIn and what I do is whenever I connect with somebody I always check “friend.” Always, even if I’ve never physically met that person, I always check friend. If you get to the point where somebody is asking for their email in order to connect them, that’s a setting that you can do in your LinkedIn profile that says that you only are allowed to connect to people that know you and the way that they know you is by knowing your personal email address, or the personal email address that you specified in your LinkedIn profile for people to connect to you.

For example: when I was interviewing for companies for jobs, I went out and I started doing a search – so I could come over here, I can do a search for CNN. People who work at CNN. You have...this come in and I can narrow that down to I only want to look at people in Atlanta which turns up to be a thousand people. Here are the people that are on here and let’s say this person is a Senior Technical Business Analyst at CNN and I want to connect to him, I’ll just click connect. If it get a little popup that says how do I know (name), I would check the radio button friend. That’s what I always do and if you want to connect people and you don’t have 50 connects, do a search for something. I did CNN and anybody that’s a second connection to you, then you can just go down the list and just start clicking connect, connect, connect and if all these people connect with you’ve now met that seventh requirement to have the 50 connections.

STUDENT Q: [Andrew]

Great, thanks. That was a great answer, thank you.

JENNIFER

Alright, I’m going to go ahead and move over to the next part of my presentation where I’m going to be talking about GitHub.

GitHub Code Presentation Takeaways

You’ve gone out and you’ve worked on your LinkedIn profile and you’ve gotten it to a point where hiring managers, HR people, recruiters are able to find you because you’ve created a good profile and made that easy for them to find you. Once they put your resume in front of the hiring manager, one of the things I found from my experience is those people – before you come in for an interview – will do a little bit of research about you. One of the things that they’ll go look at is they’ll go look at your GitHub profile. They want to get a little bit of information about you and your skill sets and your coding abilities before you come in so they can start having an idea of where you might fit within the organization.

Hiring managers review your repository contributions!

One of the examples that I had is: one of the companies that I interviewed for and did get a job offer from, they actually had their employees look at my GitHub profile and one of the things they looked at was what I have contributed to, what repos (repositories) I have in my profile and everything else like that, and they critiqued my code! The morning that I had my job interview with that company I had actually got this exact email from that company and these are feedback from their developers they have. They had questions on why I was doing certain things in my repo, and when I went in for my interview that was how my interview started. “OK, tell me why you didn’t do this?” So at least they were looking at it, by having a good GitHub profile it allows you to stand out and make it easy for them to look at you and know whether or not you’re going to fit in well within that company.

Repo refinement and clean-up tips.

One of the best ways to use your GitHub profile is to use a readme file and the “Edit” view at the top of the repo. Let’s bebop over here and I’m going to show you for example, here is one of my repos that are in my profile. Most people when you go to somebody’s repo, this is nine times out of ten what you’re going to look at, it’s going to have some information, here’s the code, here’s a readme file that’s going to have basically little to nothing that’s in here.

This is NOT what you want your repos to look like. The reason why: in order for me to really see what’s going on I’m going to have to clone this repo, install it and then run it to actually see exactly what the code is because all it tells me is this is supposedly the solutions to “coderbyte coding challenges” and that’s it. It doesn’t give me information that’s on there.

One of the better ways of looking at things – here’s another one of my repos that I have that’s out on my GitHub profile. Up here at the very top you have an “Edit” that’s at the top of every single repo that you have. You have an option of putting in a very short description and a website location.

You should be filling this out for every single repo you have on GitHub. If nothing else, use it with keywords that says “this SnapIt repo uses Angular, it uses Node.js, it’s got Bootstrap” and it tells you information about it. If you have the ability to host your code in a working format like on Heroku, on your own website, CodePen, any place like that – make sure you have it hosted on there because you can put a link in here to the website that’s available. If somebody is coming in and looking at your code they can just click on this and actually see it working. They don’t have to clone it, they don’t have to npm, bower install anything, they can just go directly to the website and actually see the code in production. You want to do that! So make sure you take advantage of this “Edit” part up here because this is the first thing that people are going to see before they actually see your code.

Boost up your readme files.

The next thing that you’re going to see is your readme file. What you want is a very good readme file, because even if somebody doesn’t look at your code, they’re going to always read the readme file because they want to see what this repo does. In my readme file here: here’s my title, here’s a basic introduction here, I’ve got some images that are included. I have a table of contents, basically how you would use the application. Here are other screenshots of the website that you might see, the homepage, what you would see when you actually log in. There’s actually a Chrome extension that’s built in here, the requirements that you need in order to run this repo, how do you install it. Then, if you want to contribute, if you did this as part of a team you would have the team information that’s on here.

This – even if they never look at my code – they know for certain exactly what this code does. They can see it, they can read it, they understand it. All of that happened because I just basically tricked out my readme file to give them everything that they need to know about it, and then if they actually wanted to see it in production all they have to do is come up here and click on this link. This is one of the best things that you want to do to have your profile out there. Don’t make it look like this: there’s a big difference between this one that gives you this information – and this one that gives you much more detailed information that’s on here.

The images that you can put in here of your projects, you can just do screenshots. What I do in most of my repos, I create a folder called “screenshots” and I put the graphic files in here and I just include it in my repo and just upload it to GitHub.

When you do your markup on GitHub, you have an option of actually putting in your picture and you put the path into that screenshot’s folder that’s out there. Here’s another one that I have out here. It has a link to it, here’s the same thing – the technology stack that was used, how to do it. Here’s where you can go to view a live demo and then here’s some more screenshots that are in here.

Once you’ve gotten found by a recruiter or an HR manager by using your LinkedIn profile, make sure that your GitHub profile puts your coding skill sets out on your best footing possible.

Extra time spent presenting your code well pays off!

What I recommend doing and you’ll notice on mine, if you look at different repos that I – have they start to look alike in terms of what you see that’s out here. Here’s a title, here’s an introduction, if I had a picture it would come next, table of contents, the requirements. I actually spent a couple of hours putting in exactly what I wanted in my readme file for one repo. Once I had it in there, then I could copy and paste that into all my other repos and then all I had to do was come in and just change the wording to be relevant to that particular repo. That’s the best thing that’s out there – that gives you exactly what you want to do and I can tell you from my firsthand experience.

I have just graduated from bootcamp last year that having my LinkedIn profile being approached by recruiters, by hiring managers, that came out because I made all the things that I needed in my LinkedIn profile. Then once I came in for an interview, my GitHub profile was set so that it was in a perfect position for them to actually see the skill sets that I had and I think that was very helpful in me getting a job.

I’m going to end it up right there, and the last thing I want to show you is actually two websites. My website appropriately enough, is JenniferBland.com – so you can get hold of me that way if you’d like.

The last thing that I have is a website that I actually created – after I got a job and I after I graduated from bootcamp – and it’s called CodePrep.io. This has over 70 interview questions that I was faced with when I was looking for a job. So you can come in here and you’ve got general questions that somebody might ask you, JavaScript questions. They’ll give you this, “what’s the difference between these three” and you have to give them the answer.

You scroll down it’s got all the information, if you want the answers you just fill out your email address and I’ll send you a PDF with all the information. It also has a quiz on here where it has a question and gives you four possible answers. You pick your answer and then once you get finished, you’ll click on grade and it will actually tell you how you did.

ERIK

Just so you know, it’s not actually screen-sharing. I wasn’t sure if you were counting on that.

JENNIFER

Yes, sorry I must have stopped my screen share a tad early, but the website is CodePrep.io and my website is JenniferBland.com.

Feel free to reach out to me if you need a connection, if you need extra endorsements on your LinkedIn profile, if you want me to review your GitHub profile. You can reach out to me, my email address is: RatRaceGrad@gmail.com. But that’s it, and I appreciate the opportunity to come in and talk to you, and I wish you all the best of luck once you graduate because you’re in a great career. You’re going to be able to easily double your salary that you had beforehand coming out as a programmer. It’s going to be a job that you’re going to love, so thank you very much.

ERIK

Thank you so much. First of all I agree immensely, especially with the readme’s on GitHub, I think that’s a really easy way to stand out just head and shoulders above everyone else. Another, do you have a few minutes to stick around and entertain some more questions?

JENNIFER

Sure, I’d be glad to.

ERIK

Alright, so as before you guys feel free to reach out any way shape or form, any kind of smoke signals that we can see we will fly down and make it happen so fire away.

STUDENT Q: [Andrew]

I also had another question Jennifer, I was wondering, like having an All-Star profile on LinkedIn, what was your ratio of recruiters coming to you versus you going out and doing company searches? I mean it did obviously make a huge difference in your case, but I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about that, maybe?

JENNIFER

My initial job search was I talked to a gentleman that had graduated from the same bootcamp that I went to that lives here in Atlanta and I said: “what did you do when you job search?” He gave me the name of two recruiters that he used and I immediately reached out to them and said “I’m about to graduate can you help me out,” and I started working with them. Once I updated my profile, I started getting contacted by recruiters. I hadn’t updated my LinkedIn profile in a couple years because I had retired. When I started updating it I started getting – even to this day – I still get contacted by recruiters saying “are you open to looking for a new job?” I never got contacted by recruiters or hiring managers until I started updating. Once they saw those updates I was putting in about my projects, my skill sets, that just basically set off a radar for these people who are looking to hire and I started getting contacted quite a bit.

Some of them, were people were like “I’ve got a job in Montana would you be interested,” and I’m like “yeah, no.” Some of them you have to take with a grain of salt but most of them, I put in that I was not open to relocation, but some of them don’t read – but it was very active for me. I got a lot of people communicating with me and I ended up with two that I started with and I think by the end of the month I had like seven that I was working with, as a result that they had contacted me. I’m like: “sure, if you can put me in front of a hiring manager, here’s my resume, what else do you need from me?”

ERIK

I think that’s actually a pretty good lead into the next question which is from the Q&A app which says, “related to recruiter screening: what are you supposed to ask them to look for in a great, results-oriented recruiter. How can they enhance your career versus how can the bad ones, when they’re not aware actually wreck it or cause you harm?”

JENNIFER

My experience is that most recruiters are good. They only get paid if they place you in a job. So, they’re going to usually go out of their way to make sure you’re going to get a job. When I was working with recruiters, they knew I was working with other recruiters so they would constantly, “have you gotten any job offers, are you close to getting any job offers – let me know because I can start pushing the company that I presented your resume to and see if they’ll make you an offer.” I have never had a recruiter that had a negative experience.

Things to be wary of when working with recruiters.

I will say, that if you’re working with multiple recruiters, these recruiters might have the same job opening available. The absolute worst thing that you could have, is to have two or more recruiters actually present your resume to the same company.

If that happens, you’re immediately taken off of any opportunity of you getting that job and the reason why: companies pay the recruiter, usually a percentage of your starting salary. If two recruiters have given your resume and if the company ends up hiring you, both of them are going to say: “show me the money, I want to get paid.” Now [the company’s] like, “OK...now I have to pay two people” and most companies will just say “screw it.” You may have been the best candidate available – but since you got that position where you put them in where they’re like, “which one do I pay if I do hire you?”, they just won’t even bother to interview you.

If you’re working with recruiters they will tell you the name of the company and the job before they present your resume and if they aren’t doing that – don’t use them. If they ask you to pay them – don’t use them. I have where one recruiter is saying “I’m submitting you for a job at Home Depot” and then the next recruiter might call me an hour later and say “I have an opening at Home Depot” and I’m like “no, you can’t present me for that because I’ve already been presented.”

That’s one thing to be aware of with recruiters.

ERIK

Thank you, and then we have one more coming in through the Q&A app here: any advice to a mid-level career changer, lots of experience but little for where I actually want to go?

JENNIFER

I think most everybody that graduates from a bootcamp is in your position. You may have previous experience doing something, anything, you just don’t have experience doing programming. I just happened to be exception. In my class I think there were 21 people in my class and there were two of us that had previous programming experience, so 95% don’t have that experience. I think that most companies today are aware of that and they’re aware that you’ve got this training and those skill sets. In most cases, your training coming out of a bootcamp you will actually have more experience than somebody coming out with a four-year computer science degree from college, because they might be learning book-smarts and theory and everything else like that. You’ve got hands on experience with programming that you’ve learned in the bootcamp that usually you do not get in a college degree.

Don’t underestimate your abilities in what you’ve learned in your bootcamp. Some people might say: “I only have four months of training and that’s it.” That four months you’re talking about, however many hours a day times however many days a week times four months, multiply it out! That’s quite a bit of experience that you’ve got, with hands-on experience.

Once you get in for your interview, most of the times people are going to ask you interview questions so that will determine how well you know your material and they might ask you to do a coding challenge or a whiteboard challenge when you’re online for your interview or in-person. As long as you can ace that – I’m working side by side with two people in my team that graduated from Georgia Tech which is a very well respected engineering school. I also have a guy that is working on my team that never graduated high school. Then you’ve got me who has a college degree and an MBA and we all ended up in the exact same spot – because we had the exact same skill sets.

When you come out and you start looking at it...,here in Atlanta bootcamps aren’t that prevalent so most people are like “I don’t even know what a bootcamp is.” But then they just jump in asking me questions, and how well you answer them determines whether or not you’re going to get the job. It’s not going to be, “you don’t have a college degree so I can’t hire you.” That used to be a mindset about 10, 20, years ago, it’s not what you see today.

ERIK

Alright, well I think we have probably time for one more and we have another one about recruiters, it sounds like you have a fair bit of experience. This is from Larry and he says: I get about five recruiters a day contacting me but most are not good they just waste your time, how do you handle this? And also: do you ever meet with your peers in person?

JENNIFER

Well one question I would throw back to you Larry: how do you know that they’re wasting your time, how do you know that they’re not good?

ERIK

I don’t know, this is via the Q&A app so I’m not sure.

JENNIFER

That’s something he needs to answer is, he probably got an email from a recruiter and he made a decision on whether or not they’re good or not.

I will say I have gotten emails from recruiters that as I mentioned earlier, “would you like to work in Montana” – no, thank you very much, and move on to the next one. That doesn’t mean that all recruiters are not the same. Here in Atlanta for big companies almost all the big companies – Home Depot, Coca-Cola, CNN, Turner, Time Warner – all these big companies here in Atlanta, they only hire through recruiters. Now most of the people in my class, my bootcamp got jobs in San Francisco and out there using recruiters is not as prevalent as it is here in Atlanta.

If a recruiter is bad, they’re trying to push you to something you’re not qualified for or you don’t want to do. You don’t have to do business with them – you can withdraw your resume from them, say “don’t present me” and just move onto the next one that’s available that’s out there.

ERIK

Well, I think that takes us to the end. Again this has been enormously helpful, thank you for having such practicality with all the tips! This is something I am going to go back and look at again and I suspect that other people will, too. Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing with us, thank you for putting together that presentation and thank you for making the time.

JENNIFER

Thank you very much, and I hope everybody the best, and you have a good choice for the perfect dream job that you’re looking for.

ERIK

To everyone who is watching now or later, thanks for tuning into the Viking Codecast and hopefully we’ll see you next week. Have a good night everyone.

Contacting Jennifer

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