Sell Yourself Better (What we learned in 12 months of recruitment)

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We've been recruiting to hire web application developers for over 12 months - and only hired two. What we learned from the candidates. Presented at Bar Camp Bradford #bcbradford November 2009 Awesome Verlag font of win has been replaced due to failure embedding that beautiful typeface *kiss*

Text of Sell Yourself Better (What we learned in 12 months of recruitment)

  • 1. Sell Yourself Better! Adam Hepton November 2009

2. Who the hell are you?

  • Adam Hepton (@proxymoron)
  • 29 years and two days old
  • Husband and Father
  • Senior Developer at Frogtrade
    • A growing company of 60-70 in Halifax
    • 9 Developers (Mainly LAMP / Javascript)
    • Hosted solutions primarily sold to education
    • Theys the ones paying for the beer. Yee ha!
  • Massivein the figurative sense, although I have piled on a bit of weight lately Geek

3. So why are you here?

  • 120+ applicants for Web Applications Developer in last 12 months
  • ~60 interviews in same period
  • Two hired
  • Why?
    • Were too picky
    • The applicants arent good enough
  • Recession means even happy people might be looking for work soon

4. Too Picky?WHAT DO YOU WANT?

  • Highly Experienced with PHP and SQL
  • Some experience with Javascript and CSS
  • Problem solving skills
  • A good attitude
  • The ability to communicate
  • Anything else we might find interesting


  • If the earliest mentioned project on your CV is 3 years ago, it is not right to put 8 years experience on your CV
  • A six-page CV when the most advanced thing you have done is plot some points with Google Maps API is overkill
  • Brochure sites (no matter how many) do not accurately display the skills required to develop web applications

9. Making your CV better

  • Get past the recruitment consultants
    • Key Skills: DOM / CSS === HTML?If its not written down, the recruitment consultant wont tick it off their list.
  • Only put relevant stuff on there
    • Going for a job in PHP?Got an MCSE? So?
  • Gauge the position youre after
    • If youre after a senior role, you need to have done something to warrant it
    • This means something people have used
    • Who arent related to you

10. I get nervous at interviews!

  • We know.We take it into account.Especially for programmers
  • Sometimes, though, were a bit naughty
    • If youre asked a question that gets you worked up, were trying to see if youre going to blow your top under stress
    • If we ask you something ridiculously easy, its not because were stupid were trying to see how you explain things

Why bother with Accessibility if you dont have any disabled users? No, Ive never heard of Smarty.What is it? 11. So, what SHOULD I do/say?

  • Know your stuff, and let us know you know your stuff
    • Theres a thin line between confidence and arrogance
  • Answer honestly
  • Show your passion!

12. And what not to do/say?

  • Dont feel challenged by us asking you questions.Its why youre here
  • Dont present yourself as something youre not.Youll be caught out sooner or later
  • I use Dreamweaver"

13. This is really unprofessional, isnt it?

  • Specifically, which technical area do you feel youre best at? Web Development
  • Of all the new things coming to the web, which excites you the most? REST, and AJAX
  • Can you explain this section of code? Hmmm.Im not sure what function means

These are real answers given by applicants for Senior Development roles in 2009 14. Were still hiring!

  • Adam Hepton
  • @proxymoron