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The problem with (most) education systems and the work place

(Small disclaimer this is from first hand experiences)

The problem

We've all (well most) been there, left school, not sure what to do next and looking for work. But some places leave you going out into the world of work blind. In my case I was more than blind.

Before I left school the principal ran a work shop for the leaving students all about how to apply for jobs in the work place. Well you think that this would be great help? Not really. An actual quote from him and many of my teachers on the topic of resumes "The longer the better, make it an essay about you and you'll be flooded with job offers". So I started, within an hour I had a six page document with my information, education, my grades (well soon to be) and a large majority of it was explaining my personality, hobbies, interests etc in very great detail.

My principal took one look and told me to go apply for jobs right away. With that said I didn't because I was right in the middle of finishing GCSEs are didn't need anymore stress. But after I left school I moved onto college for three years. During those three years I was using my six page resume to apply for jobs. And had very little luck with the exception of a few short term jobs and one that became very sketchy within five minutes of entering the room.

It became apparent to me that something was wrong with the way I was applying. Surely it wasn't me?

The solution

By this time I had been volunteering at a company for over two years and this place didn't require a resume for volunteers. So I sent my resume to one of the employees and a friend there and asked him what was wrong. With a few changed words he replied with "Why on earth is this potato thing six pages long?". We talked for a while and he made me realise that a company will likely throw out a resume if its too long and there isn't a portfolio.

So I cut it down, made it one page but still had a problem. I had no portfolio. Applying for jobs as a developer without a portfolio am I mad? (yes). But I had nothing to put on it, the few jobs I had the apps were never finished or released, I had no personal projects that I had finished to be able to put on there. So I began to work on my personal projects. Stuff that could get them finished, I spent a long time designing, making, debugging, crying and finishing projects that I could send off to companies to show them the skill set I've taught myself.

One of the biggest things I learnt was that a lot of companies looking to hire developers often won't focus on the persons education. And focus more on what a person has done within that field. A quote from a friend that will last with me forever is "I've turned down someone with a PhD in computer science to hire someone that is self taught, simply because that person was able to show me more of their own work".

Below are some links on writing resumes and portfolios for anyone that is in a similar situation.

Writing a great resume
Do's and Don'ts for writing a resume
How to create a portfolio
Tips on creating a portfolio

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