All posts by Mallory Rowan

How to Get References Without Losing Your Job

How to Get References Without Losing Your Job

Finding a job while unemployed can be a stressful task, but applying to new ones while still employed comes with a variety of its own challenges.

One of the most uncomfortable scenarios is often trying to get a strong reference from your current employer without your manager finding out you’re considering moving on.

Here are a few tips on how to getting references without losing your job.

Your Trusted Co-Worker

For most job applications, the more recent your reference can be the better. The tricky part is finding a reference while still working in your current role.

How do you know who you can trust? Will word spread that you’re looking at options? Will they tell one friend who tells another?

To get a reference from your current job, the most important thing to do is to proceed with caution. Pick one co-worker and discuss it with them offline. Grab a coffee or head out for lunch, but avoid using any formal, company-owned communication channels to discuss it. And yes, this includes Slack.

It’s best to avoid asking anyone in a higher management position than yourself. While the option of a senior reference is tempting, they’ll obviously question how your departure affects their team, and it could hurt your future with the company if you decide to stay.

A Satisfied Customer

If you work with an agency or deal with external contacts, consider using a customer as a job reference from your current job. If you go this route, you need to tread lightly.

Make sure this is someone you’ve gotten to know over the years, and who would ultimately be more interested in hearing about your next exciting career move than how it affects your company. It’s common to develop friendly relationships with clients, and there’s no harm in asking them to speak to how satisfied they’ve been with your work.

Don’t use company channels, and ask them out for coffee or lunch before you put them down as a reference. Also, this usually works best if it’s someone who worked with your organization a lot in the past, but has moved away slightly.

A Current or Past Mentor

If neither co-workers nor customers are an option, consider a reference from outside the company. Ideally, your mentor isn’t someone associated with your current organization. It could be a professor you kept in touch with, a previous employer who has always helped guide you, or a family friend in a similar field that’s taken you under their wing.

This person has experience in your field and is a credible source. Most importantly, they can discuss your growth in your current and past positions.

It’s best if they have a strong LinkedIn presence to validate their experience, and have a flexible schedule to be the first one who answers for your potential employer’s reference check. You can also get ahead of the hiring game by asking them to give you a reference on LinkedIn.

The Previous Manager

This reference will usually be one of your easiest to get, and sometimes, you can get one from a few different past companies.

Making sure you leave a company respectfully and on good terms plays a huge role in where you could land in the future. You may get caught up in leaving that position to go to a new one, but don’t forget your manager is the ideal reference for your next stop after that.

This person has worked closely with you, seen your collaboration skills, your independence, and your receptiveness to feedback. They have a clear understanding of who you are, and they can speak freely since they have nothing at stake for themselves.

Try to keep in touch with people like this, so you don’t feel uncomfortable reaching out in the future. Send them a message through LinkedIn or via email and ask to grab a coffee and catch up.

If your job application process is moving quickly, you can be upfront about the need for a reference and ask if they’re comfortable with you submitting their name and contact information.

Making your exit

Getting a reference from your current employer is a tricky task. Internally, you might be able to use a co-worker or a client. If not, consider external references who can speak to your time at the current company.

But regardless of your connection to your references, choose people who have your best interest at heart. No matter how excited you are, try to stay low key about the application and don’t be the one to spread your news too soon.


Ready to put your references to work? Authentic Jobs has an opportunity waiting for you.

Building a Startup Team From The Ground Up

Building a Startup Team From The Ground Up

Building a product takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. Most startups need to be efficient with budgets and take advantage of what they have. Every decision founders make has a direct impact on the company’s ability to make it to the next month, and most importantly, the ultimate success of the product.

When possible, the best way to do this is to add team members on an ‘as needed’ basis. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is hiring individuals with similar skillsets just because they’re in your inner circle.

To optimize your tech startup team, follow this guide to start hiring off on the right foot.

The Bare Bones Essentials

Operations and Sales
This tends to be a co-founder role, but it doesn’t have to be. This person leads all these operations and sales. They keep the team running and dive deep to figure out who customers are and how to best reach them. They’re out pitching, networking, and representing the startup.

This hire needs to live and breathe passion for the business. They need to have an entrepreneurial spirit and be willing to go all in. If you’re searching for this person, the best places to look are within the startup community in your city. Go to events, visit forums, or search through your network to find them.

As your team grows, this role should be split between two employees: one to focus into the business from an operations perspective, and one to focus on the business from a growth perspective.

Technology Lead
This role is often filled by your other co-founder. If you’re working in the technology space without a technology lead, you’re going to need to find one quickly.

This individual focuses on where the product needs to end up and how to get it there. They’re responsible for product roadmaps, growing a capable team to support the product, and creating the product itself. The more development and tech skills this person has, the better. You want a big picture thinker with granular level skills.

The Gray Area

Design & UX
It’s safe to say the world of ugly technology is far behind us. In 2017, products need to be both functional and sexy. A designer is indispensable for finding what makes products succeed from a human psychological aspect and ensuring products are as user-friendly as possible.

This role can be mistaken for a “fun” or “fancy” one, but founders need to recognize its crucial role in product development and avoiding mistakes and costly errors from the get-go. You may be able to stumble through the first bit of development without a designer, but the sooner you can get them on your team, the better.

If possible, find someone with experience in your niche. If not, narrow in on the specific type of design and UX elements you’ll need and find someone who has similar experience.

Full-Stack Developer
If you’re building anything technology related, you want a person who can get the most jobs done. It can sound counter-intuitive since the HR rule of thumb is to hire specific talent for specific roles, but when it comes to a bare bones, bootstrapped team you want a full-stack developer over front-end or back-end.

If you’re working on mobile, dig until you find someone who can do both Android and iOS. By taking the time to find these well-rounded developers, you’ll add valuable assets to your team that save a full additional salary and hours of late-night headaches.

Keep in mind this role falls after design & UX. Often you can find a technology co-founder (or be one yourself) that knows enough about code to get by. By combining your tech lead’s skills with a designer, you can get pretty far without hiring an additional developer.

The Forward Thinkers

Marketing Strategist
Marketing is always a difficult role, because a product can be built without a single marketer laying hands on it. The problem here is that most products won’t “sell themselves”, no matter how great they may be.

Consider your product’s audience, buyer’s journey, and customer acquisition costs before making a marketing hire. It’s easy to throw it out the window, but having a single person to handle all public relations, advertising, and content might be worth the costs of a salary.

Product Manager(s)
Product managers are an important role: They free up the CTO (or Technology Lead) to focus on the big picture while they handle the roadmap and tactical side of individual product lines. Product managers are a great way to stay organized, effective, and grow your products to the highest potential.

Creating a single product? You can probably afford to skip this one. Product managers operate like mini CTOs for specific product lines, so a one-product organization can stick to their technology lead, designer, and developers before looking twice at product management roles.

Customer Service
Depending on your target market and buyers, you may never need a customer service representative. For more interactive customers, the operation lead will often stick with the customer throughout their entire journey to help them with any questions they may have.

If your product has a quicker buying cycle, a customer service representative will help take the day-to-day emails and inquiries off your hands. This role is easier to fill and requires less specialization. It’s a quick person to train, but it helps your company focus on acquiring the next customer and retaining current ones.

Human Relations
The big scary letters: HR. The components of human relations can be handled by an internal operations manager, but the line is thin and easy to cross. One day these tasks will seem manageable, but the next you’ll be in over your head.

Always reevaluate the company growth and projections for the coming months. A strong HR candidate in the startup space can be a rare find, so you want to get the advantage of looking early before you need one. Try connecting with local HR managers in your city who are active in the startup community. They’re interested in engaging with startups already, and you may just find one ready to make the leap.

Building a Team for Success

Whether you hire for all of these roles or only just a few, you need to find the people who are going to click with your team. You can argue that what’s on paper matters most for a new hire, but we all know it comes down to more than that.

Working at a startup is different from a regular corporate job. Regardless of the title, look for someone who’s ready for challenges, willing to cooperate with all team members, and will do what it takes to get the job done.

PS – Ready to hire but not sure where to start? Read our roundup of the best places to find startup talent.

A hiring manager interviews a developer.

What Hiring Managers at Tech Companies Look for in Developers

Trying to figure out what to highlight when applying for a new role? You can study the job description for details, but that’s not usually enough to learn what hiring managers look for in developer hires.

We’ve rounded up some of the best advice from Slack, Basecamp, Zapier, and Uber to help you narrow in on what qualities hiring managers seek out in a developer.

Self-Starters (or the “Manager of One”)

Most hiring managers want a team that can be trusted to work independently. At Basecamp, this is described as the manager of one. In their own words, this means the best hires “do what a manager would do – set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done – but they do it by themselves and for themselves.”

These qualities can often be confused with overly confident newcomers, but their strengths reside in their ability to self-direct without crossing the line. They can start a project from scratch, but can also admit when they need collaboration or assistance to make it even better.

So how do you show you’re a self-starter?

Have honest conversations about your previous employment, side hustle, or hobbies. Show how you are able to work independently, define your own role, or how you’ve built something from scratch in a previous position.

For example, talk about a specific project where you were able to set guidelines, adjust your role as needed, and ensure a complete outcome. Bring some qualitative elements to your resume, and use qualitative examples that show you can do this as opposed to saying you can do it.

Passionate About Collaboration

It’s important to be able to step up and run the show as needed, but it’s even more crucial to understand you’re not the only one in the cast.

As a team collaboration tool, it’s no surprise that Slack prizes collaboration and passion when looking for new developers to hire. They want to see that you’re able to bring your best self when working in a team and that you actually care about the work you do.

Team work makes the dream work. via Giphy

So how do you show you’re a team player?

Be ready to discuss how you brought tangible projects forward and to break down the process that led to the final outcome. Show them a website or application you developed with a team, but describe your role, the obstacles you overcame along the way, and how you worked as a team to create the best final product you could.

Find opportunities to use examples at different stages of your interview. You don’t want to overload them with information about yourself, but pick two to three recurring values you want to emphasize (like collaboration and passion), and make sure every story plays into these.

Matching Cultural Fit

Do you want to clock in at 9 am and be out by 4:59 pm? Do you want to fall asleep on the office couch after a late-night hackathon?

Knowing what you want before applying is going to make things better for both yourself and your potential employer. Take Uber for example: it’s is a high-paced environment and they know it. Their workforce is largely millennial because of it, and they joke that working at Uber is like dog years because of how quickly time flies.

Buffer assesses cultural fit by studying your communication style throughout the hiring process and online. It makes sense that a company that claims to be “Powered by Happiness” might rule out someone with overwhelmingly negative social media accounts.

The four cultural attributes Buffer looks for in candidates. via Buffer

So how do you show you fit a company’s culture?

Fitting in with a company’s culture starts by knowing what you want.

Some companies pursue candidates with busy lives outside of work, asking for 100% focus 40 hours a week and not a bit more. But if you’re looking for a workplace that doubles as a second home, you might gravitate towards a job that prizes long hours with promotions and increased responsibility.

Knowing these answers before getting into the interview process will help you exude confidence in who you are, what you want, and what you can bring to the table.

Filling the entire role

Being a perfect culture fit for a company is awesome, but only if you have the technical skills required to fulfill the position.

Speak to your desirable personality traits, but don’t forget about the job itself. Hiring managers want to see that you’re capable and can handle the workload even when times get tough. Integration experts Zapier say the four most important traits they look for in remote developers are being tech savvy, an efficient communicator, independent & trustworthy, and a master at time management.

So how do you show you’re qualified?

Go through the job requirements one line at a time, and see if you can pair each requirement with a concrete example that shows you have the skills it takes. Whether it’s a soft skill or specific software requirement, show them proof that you fit the job description. Then, they can’t help but hire you.

Putting it all together

You won’t always be the perfect candidate for every job, but going in as the most prepared candidate will always serve you well. Do your homework and know everything you can about the company, yourself, and how you can fit the role. Be confident in your abilities, and make a case for yourself.

You will not always know what hiring managers are looking for in their developers, but you can do your best to be up for the challenge.


Ready for your next opportunity? Find it on Authentic Jobs.

Warning Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Position

Warning Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Position

For better or for worse, there comes a time when your current position will no longer be right for you. It could be that the job no longer fits your career trajectory, doesn’t align with your values, or a variety of other reasons that cause a need to part ways.

Sometimes the hardest thing about it is realizing when you’ve outgrown a position entirely. Here are a few signs to look out for.

You’re no longer learning anything new

At the end of every week, it’s a good practice to ask yourself: “What did I learn this week?”

By doing this, you’ll let the lessons sink into your memory and you’ll quickly realize when you aren’t learning anything new. You’ll also notice when day-to-day tasks start to feel mundane, and your position starts to feel like a never-ending cycle of the same tasks.

This can be a result of a limited role, inexperienced team, or lack of opportunity.

You’re completing tasks above and outside your job position

It can be a pretty great feeling when you start to step up in a position and go outside your job description. It feels like you can take on the world, and nobody is going to stop you.

Eventually, you start to realize you shouldn’t be responsible for these tasks and that it might be more impactful to have someone with true, narrowed expertise handling these responsibilities. Once your role starts expanding, it means you’re not pre-occupied enough with your prescribed duties, and the job is not challenging you in a way that it should.

It can also be a red flag if the company starts to expect you to go above and beyond with no clear plan to expand your job role or provide compensation for the additional tasks being covered. If this happens, it’s probably best to consider moving on.

Your team relies heavily on you for decisions

If you’re near the start of your career and already the final voice in every decision, you’ve outgrown your position. You want to be in a role where you can aspire to grow, to work your way up. If you’ve already made it to the top, whether it’s official or not, you are not in an environment that will nurture your career.

In order for us to grow, we need to experience both ends of the hierarchy around us, and we need to have others who offer a perspective we’ve yet to consider. If this isn’t something your organization can offer due to its size, push yourself to find connections and mentorship outside of the office with those in similar or higher roles at other organizations in your area.

There’s no longer room for growth

Understanding how your company is structured can be more complicated than looking at an org chart. Some companies prefer to promote from within a department, while others cross-promote from different branches of the organization or hire an external candidate when a new position opens up.

It may seem like there’s room to grow when you first sign onto a position, but politics, individual seniority, and company policies may create unforeseen obstacles. Reflect on past hiring decisions to make sure you’re not stuck in your current role for life.

You can’t focus on the work you’re doing

Minutes feeling like hours and days feeling like weeks is one of the more obvious signs that you’ve outgrown your position. We can convince ourselves that boredom is common across workplaces, and it can be to a certain degree, but when it drags from one week into the next, you’re bored because you’re ready for more.

Acknowledge your feeling of boredom, and identify it for what it is. If you have a slow week, it happens. If every week feels like the last four, it’s time to start looking for the next learning experience.

You find yourself browsing alternatives

When you’re not entirely satisfied with your current position, you might find yourself browsing job boards or paying more attention to LinkedIn’s Recommend Jobs for You. This is a great idea whenever you’re employed, so you can keep on top of what’s new in the industry, what future jobs are looking for, or what the competitive rate may be.

Reflect on why it is you’re browsing, and acknowledge if this browsing is a tiny, internal attempt to escape your current position. While this can be an indication of outgrowing your position, give your employer a chance before jumping ship. Let them know what it is that’s intriguing you in other job descriptions, and see if there’s any opportunity to explore a role expansion.

Everything (and everyone) is telling you to move on

If you’re in a position where friends, family, or even co-workers are saying they think it’s time for you to move on, you should probably stop and listen. While these comments may be flattering, they are also important indicators that you’ve outgrown your current position.

While the people closest to us could be the ones to say it, you may also find signs through your own actions that are begging you to move on: caring less about the work itself, dreading the office, or even just a gut feeling.

Saying goodbye isn’t easy

Knowing it’s time to move on doesn’t always make it easier to do so. Try taking some interviews and really digging into your research to find out what else is out there for you before taking the plunge. Keep working hard while you search for your next step, but avoid paralyzing your growth with excuses for each new opportunity that arises.

Leaving a job before the experience has expired entirely can be one of the best ways to make sure you leave on a positive note and full of fond memories.


Ready to grow with a new challenge? See the best jobs for web creators at Authentic Jobs.

The 8 Best Interview Questions For Designers and Developers

The 8 Best Interview Questions For Designers and Developers

Every candidate is different. As is every job and every interview.

But founders and team leads can pinpoint questions that apply across the board to find out what experience each candidate has, how they conduct work, and how they would fit into your team.

Here are eight interview questions you should ask all designers and developers during the interview stage.

Experience & Skillsets

What programs have you worked with in the past?

This is a standard resume question. You can read up on their specific application experience in their submitted resume, but asking it in person gives you a deeper look. Pay attention to what order they go in. The programs they list first are the ones they’re likely most comfortable with, while the ones they list on their resume but forget to mention in person are most likely ones where they lack in-depth experience.

This question also allows an opportunity to dive in and ask about how they’ve used each, what they like or don’t like about them, and which they hope to work with most often.

What industries have you done work for?

Don’t limit yourself to designers and developers who have worked in your industry. If you do, you risk missing out on some powerful talent and may even find your new hire falling into the old ways of their previous company’s needs.

Get an idea of what industries they’ve worked in before to understand how their unique experience can help your organization grow. This also gives you an opportunity to see if they’ll be bored or excited by the work you need them to do.

What have your past teams looked like?

The DNA of development and design teams vary depending drastically. Has this person been working independently or are they used to a detail-oriented process that involves multiple members?

It’s important to understand what they’re used to in order to understand their preferred management and teamwork style. Do they have the time management skills to run all projects? How do their skillsets normally complement others?

What project are you most proud of and why?

Looking back on everything you’ve accomplished and picking a highlight is an important step in the interview process. It gives you a better understanding of the type of work they value, the size of projects they’ve worked on, and what specific skillsets they enjoy utilizing the most. Did they enjoy the product because they were the lead on it? Did they simply love the aesthetics of their final work? Narrow in on why it was their favorite project.

Some other key interview questions on experience and skillset include:
  • Which websites or companies do you admire and why?
  • What are two things you would change to our current website from your experience so far?
  • What type of work do you love doing and what do you hate?

Interview questions to decide team fit

Personality & Team Fit

How do you approach a new project?

Vague questions can be uncomfortable for applicants, but they provide insight into their experience, their skillsets, their personality, and most importantly, how they fit in your team. Get them to walk you through their creative process, the questions they ask before getting started, and how they see other team members collaborating with them throughout the process.

Ask how they manage expectations and how they work to ensure important deadlines are met. This question can trigger some major red flags and help you avoid candidates who rely too heavily on others or are possessive of their projects.

What’s your favorite part of your day?

Are they passionate about developing a creative strategy or executing on the final details? Do they look forward to social breaks to find inspiration from teammates, or do they crave an afternoon in silence alone with their tasks and headphones?

This question helps figure out how they would jive with your company culture. It’s a good way to see if they’d be a fit for your organization, but it’s also an insightful one for optimizing their onboarding if you decide to extend an offer. If they like quiet, offer them a desk location away from the sales team. If they’re big into collaboration, re-evaluate how your team is currently set up to get a collaborative space working for them. You can also narrow in on the tasks at which they’ll excel or fall short and prescribe their workload accordingly.

Ask a behavioral-focused question.

Large tech companies are infamous for their approaches to interview questions. Google has been known to ask problem-solving questions to challenge a candidate’s creativity and resourcefulness. Shopify focuses on the “tell your story” approach, where candidates are asked questions about their life.

These types of questions may feel like a drastic change, but finding a problem-solving, behavioral question that fits your company is a great way to find your perfect match.

Some other key interview questions to gauge personality and team fit include:
  • How do you know when a project is finished?
  • If a project scope changes entirely midway, how would you react and adapt?
  • How would you handle conflict if someone disagrees with your vision on a particular project?
  • How can you ensure other team members understand their role in the project?
  • Describe your current manager and what you like or don’t like about them.

Lastly, always ask “How do you keep up with current industry standards, trends, and new tools?” This question speaks to their experience, scrappiness, skill set, and personality—all indicators of how they’ll fit into your team.

Finding the Perfect Match

There is no perfect, pre-determined set of interview questions for hiring developers and designers. Test some of these out, and always remember to focus on the areas that are most important to your organization. Is it better that they have a wide skillset or that they fit in with their co-workers? Is collaboration key to your company success or do they need to be able to work isolated?

Answering these questions will help you plan a better, more insightful interview process.


Ready to find the perfect candidate? Try Authentic Jobs your next hire.

Man and Woman Walk in Suits

Using Unrelated Experiences to Land a Programming Job

You’ve read the job description over and over again, but you’re still not sure if you should apply. Maybe you don’t check all of the required qualifications, or you’re a few years shy of the preferred years of experience. Either way, your resume makes it hard to explain exactly why you’re perfect for this role.

But consider that experience outside of programming and web development can actually give you a leg up against your competition. Follow these five tips for creative ways to leverage your non-developer skills in the job search.

Are you a problem solver?

Any job will teach you problem solving skills such as calming an anxious client, adjusting a timeline for a project, or taking on tasks that fall outside your responsibility. Figuring out how to fix a problem, regardless of whether it’s in your job description, is one of the most important aspects in any job role and one of the most attractive characteristics in a new employee.

Before interviews, think of ways that you could apply skills from previous jobs to this new role. These can include customer acquisition, social media, blogging, videography, or any area that’s presenting the biggest challenge for your employer.

Are you a natural leader?

Having experience as a manager can help you in an interview, regardless of whether or not the position includes managing a team. Being a great manager requires a long list of important skills that are crucial for successful candidates: having empathy for co-workers, learning to utilize individuals’ strengths, and most importantly, being organized.

Organization can make or break a developer: your team is relying on you to tie moving pieces together in a strict timeline. Management experience gives you the organizational and interpersonal skills to succeed in even the most difficult deadline-driven settings.

Can you take feedback?

Chances are you’ve worked a customer service job at least once in your life—whether it was at a grocery store, a restaurant, or somewhere else. Skills from these client-facing jobs transfer over into every aspect of a developer’s day. Depending on your role or company, you may not be dealing with outside clients directly, but you will always be dealing with some sort of internal customer.

Use this as a strength in interviews by thinking of times you went out of your way to please a client (internal or external). Narrow in on their challenge, your process for solving it, and ultimately, the final outcome. Explaining how you got to the solution shows you can connect with your client and find something that works for everyone involved.

Are you a communicator?

If you’ve ever worked in marketing or communications, you know how to work with a strong focus on storytelling. But chances are any past job has required storytelling skills: whether it was selling a product, writing reports, or designing a website.

Use this background to your advantage by framing your approach to development as storytelling without as many words. Take the lessons you’ve learned about tone, delivery, and messaging and apply them to your work. Having a background in a communication position gives you the skills to think of new ways to tell the same story and narrow in on which one will tell it best.

Are you an independent worker?

Have any experience freelancing? Had a job that left you on your own to get the work done? Being able to manage yourself confidently and deliver outstanding work is an underrated skill to pitch in a job interview.

Whether the company wants to give you free reign or have you checking in almost daily, knowing you’re able to accomplish tasks independently is a weight lifted off management’s shoulders. It means you’ll be the first person they call to save the day at the last minute, and you’ll quickly become popular because they know they can trust you to get the job done.

Finding the lesson in anything

Every experience you’ve ever had has a hidden lesson that can be applied to your next job. Running a marathon can demonstrate perseverance or strength, getting your diploma can show dedication and focus, and working a customer service job can show empathy and drive.

Whether your past experience is developer-related or not, find the narrative in each experience you’ve had. Interpersonal skills are how we connect and operate on a daily basis: prove you have what it takes to succeed and your work ethic will do the rest.


Whatever your background, Authentic Jobs has a job for you.

A designer's desk

Kill Your Darlings: How to Make Ruthless Edits to Your Design Portfolio

A portfolio is a designer’s secret weapon when it comes to job applications. It’s your opportunity to shout from the roof, “Check it out, I’m your perfect candidate!” without actually saying anything.

This makes it extremely tempting to overload it with examples of your past work, but there’s value in narrowing it down to the most impactful samples. Here are five strategies for creating a design portfolio that makes potential employers get back to you in no time.

1. Create a list of goals in advance

When creating a portfolio for your design work, it’s common to start by going through your past work and pulling your favorites. This can vary from projects you loved, projects you learned from, and projects you feel are relevant to the job you’re applying to.

But try this instead: before opening up any past work, sit down and create a list of things you want to showcase. The list might include some pieces for pure aesthetics, some pieces that let you discuss your creative process, and some pieces from relevant industries or projects.

Revisit your list as you go to stay on track. Make sure you don’t have too many samples serving the same purpose or pieces of work you’re holding onto without a strategic reason.

2. Evaluate yourself as an employer would

Once you’ve curated a portfolio based on the goals, take a step back and review it as if you’re an employer looking to hire. Remove your name from your portfolio and any sentimentalism, and evaluate it as if it’s not your own.

Ask yourself if you would honestly be impressed by the work and if you would be their candidate of choice. Were any sections too lengthy? Did you feel something was lacking or repetitive?

Think of the critical questions on an employer’s mind when they’re looking for the perfect candidate. 99designs does a great job of explaining how companies should evaluate graphic design portfolios, while June UX explained how hiring managers rank UX ones.

3. Ask a third-party to weigh in

Once you’ve evaluated your own portfolio, have someone else step in to critique. No matter how critical you are of yourself, having someone else review it will give you a different perspective and bring new questions to light.

This person can be another designer, someone working in a hiring position, or even family and friends. If possible, try to have two to three people review it from different categories of your life. A peer will point out small details, while a family member may notice something off with a vibe or a specific piece included.

4. “Would you put it on your first billboard?”

Not every project will be a masterpiece, but your portfolio should only capture your proudest moments whether it’s because of the final result or the process behind it. Look at each individual aspect of your portfolio and ask yourself if you would want to see it on a billboard in New York’s Time Square.

Realistically, not all work in your portfolio has been designed for a billboard, but if you wouldn’t want millions of people to see your name next to it, it doesn’t deserve a place in your portfolio.

5. Know when to walk away

It can be exciting to sit down and build your portfolio after a few morning coffees, but take the time to space it out. Once you’re happy with it, walk away and let it settle. Come back to it and see if anything stands out as unusual or if you see opportunities for improvement popping out. Try to do this twice before submitting your final portfolio with your application.

Once you start using your portfolio to apply for new work, remember it is not set in stone and should be considered a work in progress. Make sure you’re putting out something you’re happy with, but continue to re-evaluate it as your experience grows and your roles shift.


Ready to show off your portfolio? Find your dream job on Authentic Jobs.

8 Places to Find the Best Candidates

8 Places to Find the Best Candidates

It’s not easy to find the right people. Sometimes it can take months or even years to get it right.

But knowing the right places to look is half the battle. Below are eight ways to find the best startup talent through LinkedIn, universities, personal networks, and external services.

LinkedIn

Advanced Search Functionality
LinkedIn provides advanced search functions to help you narrow in on exactly what it is you’re looking for. This is a great way to weed out candidates, review their resumes before even reaching out, and get a feel for them based on their own words and their colleagues’ recommendations.

You can filter by 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connections, keywords, locations, current & past companies, industries, languages, interests, and schools with the free version. If you want to be crafty, start by looking up the employees of a competitor that you know is struggling, boring, or can’t offer the same perks as your startup. Connect and reach out on the platform to start the recruiting process.

If you upgrade to a Sales or Hiring plan, you can unlock additional filters like job function and years of experience.

Targeting Groups
Joining groups on LinkedIn is a popular way to stay up-to-date with industry trends and discuss challenges with peers in the same field. Monitoring these groups is also a great place to find talented new hires for your startup.

Join groups focused on finding employment in certain fields or general industry groups that dive into specific topics. These groups require a bit more digging as not all will be looking for work or the type of candidate you need, but it’s a great way to find hidden superstars passionate about what they do.
Try to stick with local groups if you need someone who can work from an office. If you’re open to remote workers, try .Net Developers or Designers Talk.

Post-Secondary Programs

Joint Work Programs
Co-op programs are a classic startup go-to for finding talent and, let’s be frank—cheap labour. These programs are more affordable than hiring because the school helps compensate the students, and you get employees who are learning up-to-date material. You can connect with universities, colleges, and even high schools to coordinate co-op students for your startup.

Some universities also offer a work placement system, which is similar to co-ops but structurally different. Usually, the school agrees to help fund their pay if you teach them specific skills that they may not be learning in their program. For example, employers would agree to teach students two new coding languages while at the startup. In these programs, employees often continue working for you after their co-op period is done, making them a more permanent hiring solution.

Internships
Similar to co-op programs, internships connect you with fresh talent. They open up the door to students who may not be part of a formal co-op program as well as new graduates or self-taught, talented individuals who chose not to pursue post-secondary education. Internships can be more difficult because they lack financial support from a third-party, but they can find you the best talent in town before competitors are even aware of their existence. Consider paying interns for the work they put in or you may burn bridges with irreplaceable individuals.

Networking

Personal
Keeping work and personal lives entirely separate is no longer a necessity. Turning to your personal network can be the best way to find the talent you need for a startup. Posting on your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter can be a great way to find informal recommendations from friends or to even discover that your connections have the skills you’re hunting for. Everyone has at least one talented friend looking for work, so don’t be shy about reaching out.

Employee
If you have a strong team you believe in, chances are you can trust their recommendations. Ask your current employees to put out some feelers within their own communities. If they’re currently in school, recently graduated, or active in the industry, there’s a higher chance of them finding the relevant talent you need. You can also offer incentives for employees depending on your budget: some companies like to offer a $1,000 bonus if an employee finds the next new hire, while others may just treat them to a beer or Starbucks gift card for helping out.

Hiring Services

Recruiters
While there’s not much originality to this route, it can often turn out results. Working with recruiters allows you to focus on the work at hand while they push through the new hire research for you. Instead of starting from scratch, you only meet with the best candidates.

The downfall? Recruiters will never know your startup as well as you do. You can let them know what you’re looking for, but they may skip on someone with potential because they won’t have the same gut feeling you can provide in the job search.

Job Boards
Job boards are a great way to get your open positions out into the world. Websites like Indeed will get you lots of applications, but putting resources into a paid job board can step up the quality of the applicants and make your search less stressful.

Different job boards offer different opportunities. Remote OK is exclusive to remote jobs, Unicorn Hunt specializes in UK startups, while Authentic Jobs (that’s us!) supports the full gambit of web creator jobs in remote and traditional environments.

Test and combine approaches for the best results

There’s always going to be trial and error in the job search. After hiring a few employees, you’ll quickly figure out which channels work best for you. It’s normal to find that certain roles do better with one method of hiring, so don’t hesitate to try out different approaches to see what sticks.

Hiring can be a daunting, time intensive process. But taking the time to build the right team for your startup will be invaluable down the road.


Try Authentic Jobs your next hire.

Nobody Applied to Your Job Posting: What Do You Do Now?

Nobody Applied to Your Job Posting: What Do You Do Now?

Sometimes you put a job description on your website and take it down the next day because you’ve already found the perfect fit. Other times, it’s not so easy. It can be weeks, months, and sometimes even more than a year without finding someone that fits the bill.

If you’ve gone through the motions but haven’t found the right fit, try these 8 tips to reignite the posting.

Dive into your organization

1. Take advantage of skilled individuals
Having a single person running multiple jobs isn’t ideal, but it’s a very realistic side of startup culture. Explore your employees’ skillsets to see if there’s a way you can fill your gap internally, if even temporarily. This will help buy you time to continue your search for the right fit, and not just the fastest hire.

2. Offer training to existing employees
While you may be lucky enough to have an employee who’s fully stacked for two roles, some may be familiar with the role but need some help along the way. Offering training for existing employees that have an interest in the role or some starting skills is one way to fill the gap either temporarily or permanently.

3. Shift roles to open up an “easier-to-hire” role
If you’re looking for a senior product manager, re-evaluate your existing product managers and consider promoting from within. You can still look to hire, but you’d be aiming to fill a more junior position, which can open up the applicants and help you find someone who fits your company with less experience.

If you have a front-end developer that excels at back-end (which you’re hiring for), shift them into the role instead and try to hire a front-end developer to get a fresh batch of potential candidates. Have a developer who can design? Switch your search from a designer to a developer and see how your luck changes.

Broaden your search

4. Re-evaluate your job posting
It’s tempting to really narrow in on what it is you’re looking for in an applicant, but sometimes getting too specific can ruin your chances of finding the right person. If you’re not getting any leads, re-evaluate your job posting. See if you can be more lenient on years of experience, reduce the number of specific applications you’ve listed, or expand the geographic region of your search. You can also try adding key information like salary or benefits to attract more candidates.

5. Consider remote talent
Having someone in office certainly has its benefits, but it’s not the only way to go. Opening up your search to include remote workers means you can now search on a global level. You can start by sticking to a similar time zone to avoid future challenges, but explore the option of a worker who can work from home and call in when needed. This opens up the quantity of applicants you’ll find, and often the quality you can consider as well.

6. Blast your network
If you haven’t done so already, get your job posting in front of anyone and everyone you can. Go old school and use word of mouth to find friends of friends who are looking for work. Explore your connections at similar companies to see if anyone is unhappy and looking for a switch. Get your employees to spread the word to their network and you’ll be reaching more candidates in no time. Don’t be afraid to use all your social networks and reach out to specific friends who tend to be well connected.

Look into third-party services

7. Job boards
Listing your job posting on your website isn’t going to cut it, so most turn to free general posting services. These are great for a high volume of candidates, but it may leave you with no real leads. Try exploring paid job boards to find more serious applicants targeted towards your industry or role.

8. Recruiters
Recruiters can feel like a frivolous expense, but they can be a great option if the well seems to have run dry. Recruiters are connected to several different networks and can take care of some of the dirty work for you to narrow your candidates and find the best leads. You can find recruiters with experience specific to the role you need or ones who take a wider approach to present you with a bigger pool of options.

Keep your head up

Running out of strong candidates can be discouraging, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never find your perfect match. Try revisiting these places to find talent and the tips in this article, and you’ll be surprised by the changes in applicants.


Start you candidate search with Authentic Jobs.

LinkedIn Level Up: 7 Ways to Improve Your Social Presence

LinkedIn Level Up: 7 Ways to Improve Your Social Presence

Over the past decade, it’s become a natural part of the hiring process to look up candidates on LinkedIn. For developers, having a weak or untouched LinkedIn profile can be worse than not being on the platform at all.

Want to make sure you shine when a recruiter or hiring manager lands on your profile? Follow these six steps.

Create a top-notch profile summary

Your profile summary is the first piece of content people see when they visit your profile. Take the time to fill it out properly with all of the information someone needs to know about you on first glance.

When writing your summary, think of the common hiring request, “Tell me a bit about yourself.” In an interview scenario, you would probably touch on your past jobs, specific skillsets, applications used, languages spoken, and career goals. It’s also a good practice to inject a bit of personality to give people an idea of who you are outside of work.

Quantify your job descriptions

Lots of developers make the mistake of providing company names and employment periods and nothing else. You should see this section as an opportunity to share everything that’s already on your resume plus anything that couldn’t fit.

Keep a focus on what you actually accomplished while working at each place, and quantify if whenever possible. Make it explicitly clear what the result of the work was, not just a description of the task. This means replacing bullet points like “Rewrote front-end code” with “Served as lead for code overhaul of website, leading to 75% faster page load.” These metrics prove that you influenced the company’s success instead of clocking in and out each day.

Ask for recommendations

When you’re moving on from a project or workplace, it’s quite common for a manager to offer a letter of recommendation. By the time you end up needing it, it’s usually awkward to reach out since it’s been too long since you worked with them or they’ve also moved on from the company.

Instead, ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn before you move on. These endorsements appear on your public profile, showing future employers that past managers liked you enough to recommend you to others. If possible, ask people to focus on soft skills, which are harder to describe through resumes and job descriptions.

LinkedIn has a handy guide on requesting recommendations. And, don’t feel limited to just managers. Ask team members for kind words as well.

Link to portfolio projects

If your work is available live on websites, link directly to these under your accomplishments section. If you’ve completed projects that aren’t easily linkable, create your own portfolio website or use a platform like Slideshare to showcase your work. This is also a great place to include hackathon and personal projects, if you have any of those.

Including samples of your work on your profile is a great way to attract the right contacts based on your capabilities. It can weed out offers from industries you’re not interested in or help narrow in on the ones you are.

Be sure to ask permission from past employers to avoid posting anything confidential.

Don’t underestimate volunteer work

As a developer, you probably have friends and family asking for favors all the time. While it’s nice to be able to say ‘no’, consider using these opportunities as a way to build the volunteer section of your LinkedIn profile.

You don’t have to be doing development work for charities to volunteer your time. Revamping your friend’s business website or contributing to an open source project are just a few examples of work that can fall into this volunteer category without long-term commitments.

Splurge for a professional photo

If you’re a developer, chances are you know someone who has a DSLR handy. Utilize your connections or do a quick online search and find someone who can give you a headshot that captures your personality in a professional way. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, seeing a high-quality photo gives the impression that you’re more professional, experienced, and even qualified for a particular job.

Better yet, use your profile photo as an opportunity to showcase your ability by creating a cartoon version of yourself or showing off web design trends in a smart way. Get creative and use it as another opportunity for your profile to shine.

Optimize for search engines

Using keywords wisely throughout your LinkedIn profile can help you be easily found through Google and internal search. Terms like “Austin front-end developer” or “javascript web developer” are two examples of keywords that narrow in on a tactical level.

Keep these in mind as you build your profile. Mention them in your biography, past jobs, volunteer section, skills, hobbies, and anywhere else you can squeeze them in. Once you feel you’ve completed your LinkedIn makeover, revisit all text and evaluate your keyword inclusion.

Also, get your connections to endorse you for skills relevant to these keywords by endorsing them first. This sends a notification suggesting they reciprocate the nicety. The more endorsements you get, the more chances you have of ranking for those skills.

Your profile is never “complete”

Taking these steps to improve your LinkedIn profile is a great way to step up your game, but it doesn’t mean you’ve crossed a finish line.

You should be jumping on LinkedIn at least three times a week to connect with familiar faces and engage in industry groups. Take the time once a month to revisit your profile and see if anything needs updating or if any links need replacing.

Consider your profile a work in progress, and always tweak it whether you’re looking for work or not. This guarantees that recruiters and future managers stumbling on your profile will be impressed with what they find.


What will your next opportunity be? Find it on Authentic Jobs.