Epicodus is Investing in True Career Development

In the Autumn of 2016 Crelate’s CEO Aaron Elder was invited to give a presentation to aspiring developers, at Epicodus, regarding job interview advice. Epicodus is a, “…code academy where people from all walks of life come together to learn programming and become web and mobile developers.” Instead of promoting learning through routine lectures, “most of the classroom time is spent ‘pair programming’ (where students can share knowledge, catch each other’s mistakes, and help each other stay focused).”

In addition to providing innovative teaching techniques, Epicodus also puts an emphasis on helping graduates land jobs upon completion of the program. Epicodus proactively provides: internships, demo days, resume and cover letter review, interview prep, and portfolio assessments.

Epidocus thought it would be appropriate to learn from a veteran hiring manager in information technology so they contacted Aaron. This article will highlight a few key insights from this classroom visit. Just as signs, on the famed “Route 66“, helped people navigate from the Dust Bowl to the West Coast; key advice from knowledgeable hiring managers can also help job seekers navigate their way to a great job.

Crelate CEO Knows a Thing or Two about Hiring

 

Hiring is akin to Online Dating

Aaron Elder is a co-founder of Crelate, Inc. and working on his fourth successful product. Throughout his impressive career, Aaron has grown and managed development teams from 1 to almost 200. What’s more, over the past 19 years Mr. Elder has lead many job searches and, subsequently, interviewed hundreds of people.

In relation to professional development and careers one of Aaron’s mantras (and incidentally a major theme for Crelate) is: Aligning the right talent to the right opportunity at the right time. Another way of looking at it, from Aaron’s point of view, is through the prism of online dating. And if you think about it, getting a job is a lot like dating and matchmaking. The only caveat is “everyone is looking for a long-term relationship.”

Clearly, there are things you can do to put the odds in your favor for being the “Right Talent” in order to be competitive in your next job search. This article draws from a recent junior developer job search that Crelate conducted and focuses on phone screens and interviews.

These tips and tricks are focused on jobs in information technology, but could also be more broadly applied to other industries. Whether you are working toward your first professional job or making a move to a better opportunity requires that you pay attention to the signs.

Incidentally, signs along Route 66 (which served as a conduit from Chicago to Los Angeles for nearly six decades) helped guide travelers from the Dust Bowl to Los Angeles in the early-to mid-twentieth century. If you are looking to successfully ‘navigate’ the hiring process here are a few of Aaron’s tips (or signs) for mastering phone screens and interviews.

Put Yourself in the Hiring Managers / Recruiters Shoes

 

Empathy for Hiring Managers and Recruiters Can be Vital

It’s so important to understand the social environment you are walking into as a talented individual looking to get that first job or make a move to another position. Especially if you are applying to a small business it’s critical that you are sensitive to the fact that often people working in those entities wear multiple hats and are extremely busy. Patience can be a real virtue in this milieu. Also, having empathy for the individuals working on the hiring process can provide the employer with a positive first impression.

Additionally, the hiring process is often just one more ‘extra’ task that people in small businesses are responsible for (along with a long list of other things). It goes without saying, but the time it takes to hire one person is often significant. For instance, Crelate recently added a junior developer to the team. There were 136 total applications, 35 phone screens, 7 interviews, and 1 offer. When we totaled the time commitment it came to 61 hours. Understanding the process and acknowledging the efforts of the recruiter or hiring manager will serve your well.

The employer is obviously committing a lot of time to the process so do everything you can to not waste anyone’s time. By being as prepared as possible for the phone screen and/or interview the candidate will ensure no time’s being wasted.

Nailing the Phone Screen

 

Hiring Process for One Developer was 161 Hours

In our recent junior developer search we reached out to 35 people for phone screens and only 10 (or 29%) were adequately prepared. What does being prepared look like? Here’s a list of signs you shouldn’t ignore when preparing for a phone screen:

  • Research the company, re-read the job posting
  • Be available in a quiet and private place
  • Be prepared to discuss what is on your resume
  • Don’t try to Google stuff on the fly 
  • Send a thank you letter (email is fine) after the phone screen

One of the main purposes of the phone screen is to discern whether or not the candidate is a good FIT and if they are going to waste peoples time. If you are prepared and relaxed you will demonstrate that you are a serious candidate and, therefore, worthy of moving on to the next round.

Interview Tips & Tricks

 

In the world of technology it’s critical to be as knowledgeable as possible about the product. In our recent search Crelate conducted 7 interviews and 5 did a demo of the product (prior to the interview). However, only 4 individuals could be characterized as well prepared. Here are few interview tips to pass along:

  • Be classy + Be yourself
  • Arrive early, be well dressed
  • I will tell you what I am going to ask during the interview (It’s ok to ask!) 
  • Interviewers of junior talent are looking for:
    • Can you learn?
    • Can you add value?
    • Are you a good culture fit?
    • Skills verification
    • Are you going to invest as much as the employer will? 
  • Learn from every experience and demonstrate this if you are given the opportunity 
  • Send a thank you letter (email is fine) after the interview

Summary

In today’s economy it can be difficult to navigate through a companies hiring process and land the job. The more information and resources you have at your disposal the better. Further, it’s imperative to read the signs correctly and keep your job interviewing skills sharp as you proceed on your professional path.