Invest in you, not only in your resume

The importance of who you are on a personal level is as important as who you are on paper.

I’ve been helping a fellow developer to find a new job. He’s a junior developer and doesn’t have a lot of experience or skills. And it reminded me of myself couples year before, when I was in the same situation as him, doing the same mistakes.

Let’s get some context, I graduate in System and Network Administration and started to look a job as a junior PHP developer. And after a couple of weeks, I found my first job. I was going to be a Cloud Backend Engineer in a telecom company, which looks great on paper, but in reality, I was a full-stack developer using AngularJS and PHP 5.3. Because most of the stack I was learning at work was outdated, I decided to code at home, and learn some NodeJS.

That was my life, coding at work, and when I got home, I was coding again. I manage to be more confident with my skills, and 6 months in, I started to send applications to companies in Belgium (where I live), Germany and Ireland.

I was so sure of my skills I even applied at Amazon, and, surprisingly enough, I got an interview with someone in Seattle. Let's say, that I made a big fool of my self, the coding was a disaster, and the Q&A after, was even worst. But at the time I didn’t realize that. I was so focused on the code part.

(it’ll be relevant later, I promise)

After a couple of rejections, I started to think that I was not skilled enough and that I’ll be stuck with my boring job. I even thought of stopping being a developer to follow a path where I had more chances to find a job that I like.

A couple of weeks later, I manage to get an interview with a German startup based in Berlin, and it was looking good. I passed the initial contact, then passed the technical interview, and was offer a third interview with some members of the team, to know a bit more about me as a person.

To make a good impression, I offer them to come in person. I took some days off at work and went with a friend to visit Berlin. I visited the offices, talked with the people there, I had a great time, and they were nice. Until a certain point at least. They wanted to know more about me, and who I was outside work, but all I was doing outside work was coding. I had nothing to say, I have no hobbies, no life to talk about.

I didn’t get the job, but they made me realize that skills are not the only thing that matter. It made me think about why I was rejected for other position. I couldn’t answer to the person in front of me when they asked me to give them an example of something I was proud of, or a time where I surpass myself.

The lesson I learned is that, no matter how good you look on paper, you still need to look good as a person. From that day I started to invest into my self. I spent less time coding and spent time with friends and family. I spent more time helping people in a french developer community. And I found a new job, that turned out to be a bad one, but that is a story for an other day.

What I’m trying to say here, is, don’t try to have the best profile ever on LinkedIn. Or tons of repositories on GitHub with thousands of stars, to show how to invest you are in the community, and what a coder you are. It won’t matter if you have nothing to say about yourself.