Back in December of 2013, I graduated from Hack Reactor. After graduating, I started casually looking for a job, but due to the winter holidays, I didn’t start searching in earnest until early-to-mid January. In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve spent less time searching by myself and more time using Hack Reactor’s network/connections. That said, Hack Reactor encourages grads to look for jobs using all sorts of resources, and I benefited from other forms of job search support from the HackR staff.
This blog post covers a bunch of online resources I tried out myself. I ultimately found my current job through a recruiter, but that doesn’t mean that job sites felt useless to me. Therefore, I’m happy to share some opinions and experiences with you. Maybe you’ll have better results. At the very least, job sites showed me just how many awesome jobs are available, which kept my spirits up during my battles with job interview stress.
Job Sites and Search Tools
- The gist: Employers and job seekers are matched using a system akin to online dating.
- My experience: I only tried out Whitetruffle for a few days. I revisisted sparingly.
- My recommendation: Thumbs down. I see potential for the site, but for now, it’s lackluster.
It feels a bit hollow. Much like with online dating, everyone makes a profile. Companies look at job seekers’ profiles, and job seekers like you can look at companies’ profiles. There are Like buttons to express interest. Mutual interest leads to a match. A match leads to an email notification. An email notification is supposed to lead to a conversation or some sort of initial phase of job candidacy…right?
You are also given notifications when an employer says they like your profile. The site will nag you to respond to the employer. However, in my experience, employers didn’t respond after I indicated mutual interest. Boooo! This made me wonder if employers just click the Like button on every profile (i.e., spamming) in hopes of stirring up job seeker interest.
- The gist: “Auctions” occur regularly. During auctions, employers “bid” on you.
- My experience: I went through a couple of auctions, which resulted in a few on-site interviews.
- My recommendation: Thumbs up. I will explain some shortcomings, but overall, Hired is looking good.
Hired is quite an ambitious setup. Job seekers must pass a few coding challenges to enter their pool of candidates, but when I joined, the site hadn’t yet implemented the challenges, so I was able to join after my profile was approved. Hired must have convinced employers that their candidates are top notch because employers were “bidding” salaries between $105,000 and $130,000 on me.
Misleading, but worth it?
However, the auction format is quite misleading because it implies that you must accept the highest bid. It also implies that employers must hire you and offer you whatever they bid. This is not the case. There are no strict obligations. You must still pass whatever interview process employers have. Employers can still ultimately reject you. Employers can offer you whatever salary they want to offer you if you pass their interviews. In other words, Hired simply uses an auction format as a gimmick to get people excited to participate. It’s a trick, but I’m not even mad.
Why not? Because the pool of employers on Hired is pretty darn good. I got serious interest from 5+ companies. I got multiple on-site interviews. I got two offers. Plus, if you get a job, Hired will give you a $2,000 bonus. Awesome, right?
Now it’s not all rosy. Some companies that were interested in me seemed really boring. The companies that gave me offers both offered me salaries below their respective bids. In the end, I didn’t accept any job offers because I didn’t think I was going to fit well within the companies or something irked me about the company. I should also note that Hired “provides” you with an “advocate” –in less disguised terms, Hired assigns a recruiter to you. The recruiter will call you pretty often to help plan interviews and to eventually nudge you into accepting an offer. If this sounds potentially annoying to you, don’t fret because I’ve dealt with many recruiters, and my Hired recruiter was definitely one of the nicer ones (my only beef is that the recruiter would sometimes call me in the morning when I was sleeping in late).
Caveat: some of my friends used Hired, and they didn’t have a great experience. For me, the only real bummer was when Hired stopped including me in auctions. I think I may have disappointed my “advocate” by not accepting job offers, and I may have reacted poorly to the recruiter’s nudging because at the time, I thought it was a bit too much. Little did I know that he was far less pushy than most recruiters.
- The gist: Generic job board with a reputation for being stalked by recruiters.
- My experience: I put my résumé on Dice and within 2 days, I was receiving tons of emails from 3rd party recruiters and head hunters.
- My recommendation: Thumbs up. Dice is effective, but you will NOT enjoy the experience.
Dice is an ugly site that is incredibly helpful in a painful way. First, I created a résumé specifically for Dice. What does this mean? Dice is for when you WANT spam from recruiters. Dice is for when you want to turbocharge your job search. Dice is for when you’re finally ready to destroy your fear of sharks, so you jump in a shark tank with craploads of bleeding tuna attached to your wetsuit. Do you get the picture, or must I throw more ridiculous warnings at your eyes? You must be mentally prepared to be inundated with contact from recruiters. They can sometimes be…unpleasant.
The onslaught of recruiter spam arrives from Dice because your profile is public. Your profile is rather pointless except for the résumé part of the profile. This means that your résumé has to be public, so it’s a good idea to upload a variant that excludes your contact info. Recruiters will check out your résumé and contact you via Dice messaging (which gets sent to your email). You then respond to recruiters, and work with them to get interviews and get hired. It’s a very clunky process. I could rant for several more paragraphs on the downsides of working with recruiters. However, it can be worth it. I’m very happy at my current job, which I earned through a recruiter.
- The gist: Networking, stalking, and head hunters.
- My experience: Messaging through LinkedIn actually helped me. Also, I got the feeling that employers/recruiters viewed my LinkedIn more than they read my actual résumé.
- My recommendation: Thumbs up. Linkedin is overrated, but it’s versitile and omnipresent.
I didn’t get a ton of recruiters reaching out to me via LinkedIn. It can’t compete with Dice in that department, but at least with LinkedIn, you get contacted by in-house recruiters, not just 3rd party recruiters.
That said, after I got a job, I updated my LinkedIn profile to show my new gainful employment. Consequently, I’ve been contacted by recruiters at least a few times a week even though I’m not actively trying to get a job. In other words, the recruiter “spam” really only pours in if you’re currently employed (or experienced).
Not to give false hope, but you may want to consider paying for a LinkedIn pro account. This lets you send a few messages to people you’re not connected with. I used this feature to contact executives and engineers at a few companies I was interested in. A couple of folks at one company actually replied to my messages, in which, I sincerely gushed about the company (and bragged about my 1337ness of course).
Quick Aside: “Unique” résumés and cool profiles
I consider my LinkedIn profile to be a way for me to show off a bit of my personal style. Some people try to be edgy or unique by formatting their résumés in a different way, but I’ve heard that’s actually a bad idea. Not to mention, a lot of people just don’t come up with good designs. Some do, but plenty don’t. Besides, résumés need to be easily skimmed by human eyes and easily scanned by software. After I got hired, I switched from being a job seeker to being an interviewer within my first week at the company. I saw over 10 resumes and sadly, the bland-looking ones were generally easier to skim. The uniquely formatted ones showed good intentions, but poor execution. You should think twice before you use bombastic fonts and lighter colors.
Oh! Back to my original point: I use my LinkedIn profile to demonstrate a bit of my personality through writing style –not through formatting (although I do add bullet points because their text organization powers are un-friggin’-paralleled). In fact, for pretty much any job site that required me to create a profile, I put in quite a bit of effort to write something actually interesting. It can be difficult to flex creative muscles for such tasks, but I believe it’s worth it to prevent your profile from being read with the same dry tone as every other candidates’ boring dossier. If you have 5+ years of perfectly relevant skills, then you can probably write a profile devoid of personality/creativity, and you’ll still stand out as a stellar candidate. Hooray for when that day arrives.
Check back (somewhat) soon for more opinions and anecdotes on software developer job search sites. In part 2 of this Dev Job Searching Tools Roundup, I will ramble about Readyforce, The Muse, The Sourcery, AngelList, VC job listings, and more.