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Tom Smykowski
Tom Smykowski

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How to land a programming job when your resume sucks

For a while now I am trying young developers and designers to land a job with successes. Just s notice: i am not a recruiter. I am working as a software engineer and designer for sixteen years. I have been in hundreds of job interviews. I was also recruiting as a company owner and supporting interviews for software houses. Have seen hundreds of CVs. I have seen who was hired and who not. Based on my experience I will tell you some bulletproof tips how to help yourself to land a job if your CV sucks. Let’s start.

Prove you know stuff

Usually you don’t have to have a higher degree of education to land a job. But you have to prove you have knowledge in the area you are applying to. But how to do it if you don’t have money or time to finish higher education? There are methods to accomplish it.

Look for state funds for courses, etc. If you don’t have such possibilities just find online free courses. Especially with a certificate at the end. Finish those courses according to the job you want to apply to. Add them all to your CV. Recruiters love courses and certificates. These prove you are committed to excel in the profession and self improve.

Remove unimportant stuff
Now, when your CV is filled with courses and certificates, remove stuff that is not connected with the job you apply to. Important stuff should be on top. So if your formal education is not helpful put it at the bottom. Limit the space to describe it.

Also remove short job things and positions from your CV if they are not important for the job.

Expand what is connected

On the other hand, if you had any job position or did anything connected with the job position, write several sentences to describe what you was doing in a way that indicates what you have learned (soft skills are also important because these are transferrable).

Remove unimportant stuff for the job
You may think your CV should describe your whole life. Not, it should not. Keep one CV with everything. But prepare separate for specific job position and remove unimportant stuff. I know you spend a lot of time for something totally different. But recruiter won’t think: “ah, we needed a developer, but he is perfect at pottery. I will ask around, maybe someone needs a pottery expert.”. No one thought that way. Remember that your CV sucks already, and you want to become a developer or designer, not a pottery expert!

Add contact info
Your phone number and email are enough.

Use a template
Find a free template and use it. Make sure it looks clear. Your best bet is minimalism. It will make it easier to edit it, and read. Don’t aim for fully blown CV design because design trends change quickly. Your best bet is minimalism.

Build a portfolio
People think building a portfolio is difficult. It is not. You don’t apply for a Picasso role. Your portfolio should show (show!) you do some nice stuff similar to what company does. So scoop through company website, make some designs following the design company likes, check what trends are popular. Focus on the visuals. Not about creating full product. No one expects that.

Learn new stuff
There are always new things that companies use. These fresh new things that employees of companies learn very slow because the have work to do... Your best bet is to check job descriptions and learn these things. For example for web design Tailwind is a hot potato. For design — Figma (2021). Your best bet is to learn it, and put info about how you have learned it in your CV.

Be fast
You should monitor job offers and once you find a job that fits your expectations you should immediately adjust CV, portfolio to this job. Don’t focus on a general CV for hundreds of companies if your CV sucks. Put a directed effort to win that one job. Prepare and send your application ASAP. Tomorrow is too late.

Be available
Once you have sent your application you should be available 24/7 on your email and phone. You put a lot of effort and at this point your best bet is to be the first. Usually recruiters don’t have too much time, and they want to hire ASAP.

Don’t give up
I wrote you should aim for one job offer. However it does not mean you should send only one application. Send as much as you can, while sticking to the process described above. Improve your proofs, CV and portfolio during the process.

— -

When you will follow the process, your CV and portfolio will become better and better with every day. To the point, when hiring you will likely become a unevitable consequence of what you offer.

Imagine you are a recruiter and someone sends you a CV that proves a person took all measures available to prepare for the job while being limited by mundane life reality.

If you can’t imagine this, I will tell you how it looks like from a perspective of person who looked at hundreds of CVs: it looks like ultimate gold. Because I’ve been there and know how hard it is to figure out what to do to get yourself a job when your CV sucks.

That is why I am sharing these tips with you. I am sure only one of hundred of readers will try it out. Because you have to put some effort into it. And it is fine, as long, as that one person is you.

When it will work for you don’t forget to let me know via comments or social media. I love to hear from people who succeeded.

Discussion (2)

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tofu860 profile image
Tou Xiong

Great information!

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tomaszs2 profile image
Tom Smykowski Author

Thanks for your feedback. Glad you like it!