After attending a webinar hosted for Flatiron School grads by Career Coach Mollie Khine, I left feeling inspired and thought I should share what we discussed. The webinar was titled Value-added Projects but I prefer to think of it as sealing the deal for an interview. In this article, I will address the questions: What are employers looking for? And what is a value-added project?
Obviously employers want you to have the necessary skills to complete the job. What’s important to realize is that even if you don’t have all the skills already, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a viable (if not awesome) candidate. Keep reading and I’ll explain a few ways to prove your skills even if you don’t have as much experience as the job posting wants.
Often underrated, being a team player and positive contributor is highly sought after among employers. They want to make sure that you work well with the company culture and that you are someone that they will want to work with on the job. As with many bootcamp grads such as myself, we frequently have a very diverse background and many times that involves excellent communication skills or working on a team. Use this experience to your advantage! During your interview process, think of your interviewer as a colleague (without being presumptuous obviously). Showing that you are willing to ask questions, offer ideas, and encouraging a two-way dialogue will make a great impression.
For any fellow bootcamp grads, being able to learn quickly is an absolute must. Bootcamper or not, proving that you are a fast learner to a potential employer can be tricky. Everyone says they're a quick learner but how can you prove that to your interviewer? This is another place where value-added projects can really make the difference to set you apart and prove your value.
When you get to the later stages of an interview and can tell you’re one of a handful of candidates for a role, you just need one more thing to really drive home the fact that you are the right choice. That’s where value-added projects can help you seal the deal.
A value-added project can take many forms but is usually some small project, blog post, etc that shows that you really want the job and are willing to put in the extra effort to make that happen. For example, if you are going for a front end role and they want to redesign their website, mock something up and send it to them in your follow up email. Or if you come across a concept at the interview that you completely blanked on, do some research, learn as much as possible, write a blog post, and send it to them in your follow up email. Value-added projects like these will surely set you apart and show that you can learn new skills quickly and that you have the drive to be a positive contributor (which just so happens to address the three points mentioned earlier). Some might think that this is too time-consuming considering there’s no guarantee that they’ll choose to hire you in the end but as far as I see it, it’s a win-win. If you are truly interested in the position, then doing the extra research or creating a small project will only add to your arsenal of skills and experience.
If you haven’t gotten to the later stages of interviewing but still want to set yourself apart using a similar mindset, you can still show your drive and skills through hackathons, writing and sharing blog posts on new skills you are learning, or by contributing to open-source projects. All of these show that you can learn new skills and contribute to something bigger than yourself.
What do you think are the most important attributes employers look for in a candidate? Have you ever tried creating a value-added project? Can you think of other types of value-added projects (there are infinite possibilities after all)? Let me know what you think!