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Beyond The Skillset

Published 6/11/2015

Today's episode was inspired by a listener question on job hunting and what makes you employable.

In this episode I cover the minimum requirements of employment and what that means from an employer's perspective, review frustrations of job hunting and how to overcome them, and cover the three key areas to keep in mind when job hunting. By the end of this episode you will be set you up with a job hunting action plan.

If you have a question that you'd like to explore, send an email to developertea@gmail.com or reach out on Twitter @DeveloperTea. You can subscribe to this podcast on our website, or any other service to get updates on the latest episodes and topics.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking to you about why hiring is not just about your skill set. I get a lot of emails from people who are looking for jobs as a developer. They are often confused as to why they haven't been able to find employment and they talk about how their skill set is adequate for almost every job that they have applied to and some people even see people who are less qualified than them get the jobs that they applied to and it's really confusing and it's frustrating and it's even easy to get burnt out. It's easy to get burnt out on the job searching process. It's tiring and these people are frustrated and I want to share with you today why your skill set is not the only thing that matters. A lot of people who have emailed me that is the thing that they have focused on and it's kind of the common vein in those emails and so I want to share with you why the skill set is not the only thing that matters. When an employer searches out a candidate they are looking for a lot of things. The skills are definitely a part of that. In fact they are kind of the start to that job hunting process. They are the minimum filter that an employer will use to determine whether or not you are even a potential candidate. Having particular skills might be the minimum requirements but only having the minimum usually isn't enough to be hired especially if a lot of people potentially have that minimum set of skills. The answer isn't always clear as to what you need to do as a potential employee to impress the person that you're applying to a job for, a company or a recruiter for example. It's hard to tell exactly what's going to make them say that person is a candidate but there is one thing that is absolutely certain and that is that you as a person are more than the sum of your skills. In other words if there are a hundred people with the same exact skill sets that does not mean that they are equal that definitely doesn't mean that all of them are a fit for a company that is looking for those skill sets. So what aspects make you employable? What do I look for in an employee when I am looking for someone to fill a particular role? Well one thing could definitely be the salary that you require for example if two people with the same skill sets are requiring two different salaries then typically a company will acquire the person who is asking for the lower salary. This isn't always true for example if one of those candidates is asking for an extremely low salary then it's very possible that they are undervaluing their work or that they aren't confident and that kind of signal is a negative signal. I don't know that I want somebody on my team who isn't really confident in the work that they can do. So I might choose somebody who is asking for a bit of a higher salary but one that is still reasonable. There's still a lot more that I consider as an employer. There's still a lot more that I look at when I am looking for a potential employee. I'm going to share with you three different areas today that you should be thinking about when you go on the job hunt. When you want to be employable these are three areas for you to think about but first I'm going to take a quick sponsor break. You've probably heard of QuickBooks and you might even use QuickBooks every day in your small business but did you know that Quick Books has an API? Into it has built the API with developers in mind using standards like OpenID, OAuth and REST API calls and with millions of businesses already using QuickBooks you've got a customer base that's ready to use your app and you can even publish your app on apps.com. Into its application marketplace built specifically for QuickBooks users. And here's the best part of the QuickBooks API and apps.com. It's all free. And to it doesn't take a royalty share from the applications that you publish. You can get up and running in just a few minutes using the developer sandbox and the API Explorer. Just go to developer.intuit.com today to get started. There will also be a link in the show notes to let Intuit know that you're a developer to you listener, which is a huge help to the show. Check it out in the show notes on developertea.com. Today we've been talking about the things that make you employable, the things that go beyond your skill sets and make you an attractive potential employee. I've intentionally been using language as an employer, as if I am the employer looking for potential employees because I think that is the first essential step to understanding what it means to be employable for you to get into the mind of the person that is trying to make the decision about hiring you. Because if you're only thinking about what you want, if you're only thinking about how qualified you are, then you aren't really helping that person make those decisions. You have to think about what the company wants. You have to think about what the company is looking for in a potential employee. I'm going to share these three areas that I think are really important for you to be thinking about as you start on the job search. These are specifically really good for Developer To be thinking about, but they also apply to other areas too. If you aren't a developer and you're looking for a job say as a designer, these are definitely applicable to you as well. The first area is social proof. What is social proof? Well, quite simply it is what other people think about us and specifically why other people think we are employable or why other people think we have qualities that are positive and make us employable. The truth is we naturally trust the opinions of people about other people than we trust the opinions of people about themselves. The reasons for this are natural and pretty simple. If person A has nothing to lose by giving an opinion about person B, then they're likely to be more honest, more transparent. If person B is trying to get a job and they're asked their opinion about themselves, they have more to lose. It is more likely that they would be pressured into being dishonest or perhaps person B may not see certain aspects of their personality or working habits that person A sees in person B's personality or working habits. Gathering social proof for me as an employer gives me a little bit more confidence that I am not taking a risk by judging somebody based on their own opinion about themselves. It gives me a little bit more to go on and I'm more likely to trust that candidate than if they were to only have their own presentation of themselves. There are multiple ways to handle social proof. One is to actually ask other people who have worked with you for testimonial that you can share in the future. Make sure that you get their permission if you're going to use their contact, use their name or their brand to show another employer in the future. Of course, LinkedIn offers a social proof mechanism of asking people for their opinion about you and it shows up on your profile. But the most important thing here is that you have social proof ready to show and that if I go looking for social proof about you, then I don't find something that is the opposite of what you said. In other words, be honest. Why about what somebody thinks about you? Of course, you can always point to publicly available tweets about you without asking a person for permission since they have already given their implicit permission by tweeting it in the open, by tweeting it publicly. So that's the first one. Gather social proof and share it. Make sure you have a list of things that people have said that are nice about you, that you have the permission to share. Number two, show what you do with your time to your potential employer. And this means not only your time with development, don't just show the things that you're interested in when it comes to development, but also other parts of your life. You are a human being. Showing what you're interested in, showing your hobbies, for example, or your tastes in music or movies or other media or your taste in food for that matter. These are all things that show that you are a human. And ultimately, I am hiring a human. If I'm hiring you, you will be spending time with me and the people on my team. Your personality and your tastes, they matter to me as your employer. If I'm hiring somebody who has a totally different personality or totally different tastes from the other people on my team, that makes it a little bit harder to work with them on a day to day basis. So it helps me to see the personality and the tastes of the people that I might be hiring in the future. Of course, this doesn't give an employer the right to discriminate against you because of your tastes, but it certainly helps me as an employer to determine between two otherwise equal people, which will be a better fit for my team. So this means share the media that you are consuming, share the things that you like, talk about your hobbies, show your personality, be who you are. And that seems simple and it doesn't seem like an employer would care about those things, but in fact, that makes you more memorable and it gives you potential connection points with your employer. Let's say you enjoy mountain biking. Well, if you come to Chattanooga where I live, mountain biking is something that you can do and something that you would enjoy. And if you told me that you like mountain biking, when we're in an interview, then I can say, Hey, you know, you would really enjoy living here then. And I would much rather hire somebody who's going to enjoy living here where they would need to live to work with me than hire somebody who would absolutely hate living here. For example, if somebody told me, Hey, I really don't like hot summers. Chattanooga is probably not a great place for them. But if they really want to live in a place that has, you know, warm summers and has a river, then Chattanooga would be a fantastic place for them. So sharing the things that you like, sharing the way that you spend your time, they show your human side and they'll help you find out if you are going to like that job. You might be applying for a job that come to find out you would actually not really enjoy that much. Again, you are not the sum of your skills. You're not a machine. You work with machines, but you are a human. And if you are having to relocate, especially then sharing the things that you do with your time is really important to your employer. If you don't share the things that you do with your time, it's much harder for that employer to determine if you're going to be a good fit for the team. Now, this isn't just about taste either. Knowing what you do with your time, especially if it does have something to do with development, also shows that you are interested, genuinely interested, and becoming a better developer. If you interact with comments online, that's how you're spending your time. And interacting with comments shows that you can hold a critical conversation about a particular subject. This is another thing that is important to me as a potential employer. Are you good at communication? Well, I can go online and find out if you are good at communication by just looking at the trails that you've left behind you online. This leads me to my third and most important area for you to focus on when you are trying to become employable when you're starting on the job hunt. And that is to Google yourself. Google yourself. And do that from a friends computer where you can get into incognito mode and hopefully see what everyone else in the world is seeing. And why would you do this? Well, the internet version of you doesn't necessarily match up perfectly with who you really are. And first impressions are everything. Remember when you were told to dress nice for an interview? Well, your first impression that dressing nice, that has to be done now online. Whatever comes up on Google when I Google your name is the very first impression that I have of you. So make sure you are dressing nice for the internet. Strongly consider having your own website and some semblance of a brand. First of all, now I did an interview with Jon Sommez that we talk a lot more about brands. So I'm not going to go into detail on that here. But that is going to be the best way to control the way that you look online, to control people's perception, to control that very first impression of you online. Now beyond your personal website, whether you like it or not, your social profiles and your GitHub profile, these are all important. And to some employers having a locked social profile could be a red flag. And to some employers having no social profile at all could also be a red flag. So be very considerate of the social profiles that you do have online. And with that said, wherever you are online, make sure you are active. Having an empty profile on GitHub to me as an employer is worse than not having a GitHub at all. So make sure that if you are going to be online, then be active. Beyond simply being active online, make sure you're considering the messages that you are sending. When I Google you, I'm trying to figure out if you're the best candidate for a job. So what is your presence online communicate? Whether that's explicitly or not, it doesn't really matter. What matters is how it communicates. Are you lazy or are you a diligent worker? That's a question that I have to ask as a potential employer for you. Do you pose an HR risk to my company based on what I can gather about you and your personality and maybe the things that you say on Twitter? Will you be able to accomplish tasks that I put in front of you? Are you a professional and do you care about your work? Will I enjoy being around you? Are you interesting? What significant things have you done so far in your life? Are you committed to excellence? Do I have enough proof that you will be a good fit for my company? Your presence online is the most compelling way for me to gather answers to all of these questions, whether you explicitly answer them or not. It's my job to find answers to those questions. And I will make up answers to those questions based on what I'm seeing about you online first. Even if it's subconsciously, I can make assessments about what I see, about your identity that I find online. So go through this process of auditing your personality that you find online. Put yourself in the position of an employer which you hire yourself, not based on your skills, but based on everything else that you find online. Do this regularly. Make sure you are auditing yourself online regularly. Google yourself on a weekly basis. Ultimately, when I research you as a candidate, once I know that you have the minimum skill set necessary to accomplish tasks, my research is about you. And that research is done online and that research is what I use to determine if you will be a good candidate or not. Try to approach your online presence from the perspective of your employer. Reach out to employers who have passed on your application in the past and ask them for candid feedback on why they chose not to go with you. They might provide you with insight that you had not thought about previously. I hope you've enjoyed this episode of Developer Tea and I hope that it has been useful and enlightening and that you have an action plan if you are looking to become employable. You have a bit of an action plan to give yourself kind of an audit of the way you are approaching these three different areas. Social proof, presenting the way that you are spending your time and finally your presence online. Google yourself. It's been some time looking at what you look like to other people. If you have questions for me, you can always email me at Developer Tea at gmail.com. I love getting your questions and that in fact is one of the reasons why I made this specific episode is because I got questions about this topic. So I love getting these questions and I love answering them. You can also reach out to me on Twitter at at developert.t. video notes for this episode and all other episodes can be found at developertea.com. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes of Developer Tea, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. If you enjoy Developer Tea, please vote for us in the 16th annual net awards. You can do that at bitly. That's b-i-t.ly slash vote T, e-o-t-e-t-e-a, all lowercase. Vote for us in the annual net awards. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.