Category Archives: Job Search

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.

How to Ace Design Interview Challenges

How to Ace Design Interview Challenges

If you think all you need to ace your design interview is an eye-catching resume and a firm handshake, think again.

Nowadays, it’s pretty common for companies to pose design interview challenges to their candidates to assess their skills and problem-solving abilities. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what your interviewer will ask you to do, it still can’t hurt to be prepared by learning about some of the more typical questions.

Here’s a roundup of four job interview design challenges and the best ways to work through them.

Google elevator challenge

It’s a straightforward question with a far-from-simple answer: “How do you design an interface for a 1000-floor elevator?” This problem has stumped designers all over the world and there are even articles, diagrams and sketches from those who have attempted to solve it.

According to author and designer Svilen, the best way to approach this article is to avoid presumption. For instance, you might assume the elevator will be used by people but it could be used for transporting animals, cars, food, you name it.

Instead, he states that the correct response, to quote Isaac Asimov, is that, “there is, as yet, insufficient data for a meaningful answer.” Potential employers don’t necessarily want solutions right away – they want to see if you ask the right questions to learn more about the problem.

Facebook product/app critique

In this design interview challenge, your interviewer may ask you to critique a popular app or product in order to get your insight into what works and what doesn’t. Again, this challenge is simple in structure but much more complex beneath the surface.

In order to properly critique a product, you need to start by developing your “product intuition,” writes Julie Zhuo, VP of Product Design at Facebook. This involves understanding people’s desires and how they react to things.

From there, before you even open the app, think about how you learned about the app, how you would summarize its purpose and how popular it is. Then, after opening the app and playing with it, consider the ease of use, the feel of the app, and whether it delivered on your expectations.

Shopify metaphor question

At Shopify, hiring managers for design positions value a candidate’s use of metaphor over almost all other skills and work experience. While you might think this would be an attribute more suited for a content or copywriting job, many designers feel that “illustration is content” and some of the same principles apply.

For instance, in order to use metaphor effectively in product design, you need to make sure your approach is focused – choose one main visual to communicate your idea. Additionally, the metaphor needs to be something that will help the user better navigate the product. While this might sound intuitive, aligning your product’s goals with your own creative vision is often easier said than done.

WeWork metrocard system redesign

Many entry-level designers have well-honed artistic and technical abilities but often lack an understanding of the product thinking that helps companies produce truly amazing apps and interfaces. Fortunately, whiteboard exercises like the ones that WeWork uses with their candidates are a great way to refine this skill.

An example of one of these exercises is their NYC metrocard system challenge. In it, the company states that they need a system that allows daily users and visitors to access the metro, without a physical card. For a problem like this, the best approach is to “think in products, not in features.” Think about the specific user’s problems, the jobs to be done, the goals and the revenue before you dive headfirst into thinking of potential features.

Tackling the design test

Many designers often have a love-hate relationship with whiteboard tests. After all, it’s always nerve-wracking to have to solve a problem on the spot under a time constraint.

However, the main thing to remember is that these questions are supposed to be incredibly difficult to solve. The best way to approach any design interview challenge is to not make any assumptions. Ask questions to try and understand the problem and the potential users as much as possible.

As UX designer Braden Kowitz puts it, “The point of the design exercise is not whether someone can get the right answer; it’s to see how people think.” Design is only one part of the exercise – you need to think about the entire scenario and all the ways people could engage with the product before your marker hits the whiteboard.

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

Four Steps to Take Before Relocating for a Job

Four Steps to Take Before Relocating for a Job

It’s finally happening: you got that call back and the next step is relocating for a dream job. Moving expenses, finding a new apartment, and navigating a burgeoning relationship with your bosses is a lot to get your head around.

Getting the best deal for your new job starts with the interview and stretches well beyond your first visit to your new home. Here are the four things you need to do before packing up your things and starting the new adventure.

Start at the negotiating table

Before relocating for a job, the first thing to think about is whether your new employer is willing to pay for your relocation. Often employers are more willing to negotiate a relocation package than a pay increase. Use this to your advantage!

Relocation packages involve either the company’s HR coordinator setting you up with a relocation company or a lump sum payment. This process is designed to cover moving expenses like renting trucks and tricky things like the apartment search or temporary lodging.

If there’s a written policy against relocation assistance, try pitching it as a signing bonus. Before doing so, calculate how much it would cost to move without company assistance. Again, this will be preferable for many companies when compared to asking for higher salary.

If your new company refuses to budget, there’s still the IRS. If your relocation passes their distance and time limits, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses come tax time.

Explore your new home ahead of time

Try to plan several trips to your new city before relocating for a job. Just because you’ve heard that Seattle is rainy doesn’t mean that the gravity of its regular deluges has sunk in. Getting on the ground lets you figure out the lay of the land and start visualizing yourself in a new place.

Weekend adventuring also lets you check out different parts of the city. Making sure that the place you come home to is right for you will make the transition all the easier.

Your preview visits are also a chance to find community. Using services like let you connect with real people in your new home over shared interests. Making new friends or acquaintances before you move really helps with the mental half of moving. Locals will also have insight into the safest neighborhoods, the greatest transit options, and the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

Checking out local blogs in your areas of interest is a distance free way of researching your new home. Are there any cool foodie blogs? Coffee hunters? Bouldering pros? This can tell you a lot about what neighborhoods you’ll want to live in.

Figure out your new cost of living

The nitty gritty of relocating for a job comes into play when figuring out budgetary changes.

Using a cost of living calculator is a great way to start. They tell you all about the differences in eating out, gym memberships, and necessities like produce. If you’re moving to a more expensive city this kind of information is especially invaluable.

Knowing how your spending habits will need to change can also give you more information at the negotiating table. Be honest with yourself. If you regularly spend $500 on fun a month, then put in the time to figure out how much more you’d be spending in your new home.

On the housing end of things sites like Trulia shed light on reasonable rates for both renting and owning.

To buy or not to buy

By now your life is in boxes and the interstate awaits. It’s time for a new walls in a new place, but to rent or to buy?

Moving to a new neighborhood is a risk. Even if you plan trips ahead of time, it’s impossible to truly get a feel for a place before living there.

Sometimes the neighbors are noisy. The bells at a local church go off at 8:00 a.m. every Saturday, prompting the local dogs to riot. These are things which are hard to predict and harder still to fix when you’ve already committed to a year-long lease or down payment.

Using Airbnb or subletting in a different neighborhood can give you a great feel for life there without committing heavily. Staying somewhere centrally located can give you the freedom to explore the city at your leisure. What’s more, it’s almost always easier to get to apartment viewings if you already live in the city, even without a permanent address.

You can also try to negotiate for temporary corporate housing as part of your relocation package for your new job. Often times, large companies will have deals on short-term accommodation for visitors and new hires.

Home sweet home

At the end of the day, balancing work and life will always be hard, especially in a new place. But with proper preparation, caution, and an eye for detail you can make relocating for a job perfectly painless.

Want to explore jobs in a new city? Check out Authentic’s listings that provide relocation assistance and visa sponsorship.

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.

Conquer Rejection: 4 Steps To Take When You Don’t Get The Job

Conquer Rejection: 4 Steps To Take When You Don’t Get The Job

It’s the email nobody wants to get. It starts with “We regret to inform you….” and ends with you wondering what went wrong.

So, you didn’t get the job you really wanted… Now what should you do? First, realize that rejection is a part of life, especially if you’re on the job hunt. While your first instinct might be to delete that flashy company’s contact info and pretend like the interview never happened, that’s not the smartest move.

Instead, here are some things you should do (and one thing you definitely shouldn’t) if you want to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

1. Stay Positive

It’s hard not to take professional rejection personally, but realize there are a ton of factors that go into hiring decisions. Maybe you had the right skills but weren’t the best culture fit. Perhaps they were planning to hire internally from the beginning. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important that you don’t let the experience bring you down.

Give yourself some time to bounce back—call a friend, go for a walk, order a pity pizza—do whatever it takes to process your emotions. Also remember that while not getting this job may create some challenges for you financially or in your career, the situation is not permanent and not the absolute worst case scenario. As the saying goes, this too shall pass.

2. Learn From The Experience

Once the initial sting has subsided, try to take a step back and reflect on the situation. Start with the job itself – was the company looking for people with a specific qualification? Does your previous experience align with the position? Try to identify any potential skills gaps and work to overcome them. For example, if you’re looking for a web development position, taking a course in UI/UX Design could help your resume stand out to potential employers.

If you made it to the interview stage, think about what you did well and what you could improve upon for next time. For instance, if there were any questions that gave you pause, write them down and prepare some answers just in case you come across them again.

Additionally, finding a candidate who fits in with the culture of an organization is becoming increasingly important – some companies even prioritize this factor over a candidate’s competence. Before your next interview, do a trial run with a brutally honest friend. They might spot some body language quirks or less-than-ideal answers that you didn’t even realize you had.

3. Ask For Feedback

Some employers might give you an indication as to why they passed on you. It’s possible that you even know exactly what that reason is without even having to ask. However, there are those times where you’re left scratching your head in disbelief.

In these situations, it can be helpful to seek clarification on their decision-making process, but there are a few things to consider before you send your request. Firstly, you shouldn’t ask for feedback if you did not meet with the hiring manager in person. Additionally, keep in mind that you may not get the candid response you’re hoping for due to legal concerns.

However, if you feel it is appropriate, the best way to ask for constructive criticism is to start with a thank you letter, letting them know that you appreciate them taking the time to meet with you. After you have expressed your gratitude, conclude your email with a request for feedback. Also, be sure to frame your questions in a positive way and be specific. Ask “Do you have any advice for how I could improve my interviewing style?” instead of “Why didn’t you hire me?”

4. Don’t Hold A Grudge

While it’s normal to feel some animosity toward a company after getting rejected, it’s crucial that you don’t let your hurt feelings cloud your judgment. Always be gracious and thank your interviewer for their time and wish them the best.

If you’re still interested in working for the company, ask them to keep you in mind for future openings and maybe even connect with them on LinkedIn. Staying in touch with the company can help ensure you’re top-of-mind when a new position opens up.

Turn Rejection Into Resilience

Once you’ve followed the above steps, remember not to dwell on the situation. It’s important to get back on the horse and continue applying to jobs and learning new skills. While rejection is often painful, it’s also a huge learning opportunity – it forces you to look inside yourself and identify areas for improvement, both professionally and personally. Plus, it’ll feel even more rewarding when the right job is offered to you.

Ready to move on? Authentic Jobs has an opportunity waiting for you.

5 Resume Keywords to Borrow from Tech Leaders

5 Resume Keywords to Borrow from Tech Leaders

Writing a resume or cover letter for any job can be difficult, but applying to web development roles comes with its own set of challenges.

First, there’s the matter of translating all the technical jargon and complex terminology of your work into plain language that everybody on the hiring team can understand. Then there’s the issue of finding a balance between putting yourself in the best possible light, while also staying true to your experience and skillset.

Unfortunately, there is no real shortcut to putting together a quality application. However, to get some inspiration, we looked to some of the best and the brightest in the industry to see how they describe themselves.

Here are some keywords and phrases from industry pros that can help spice up your web developer resume or cover letter and stand out from the crowd.

“One-man team”

Working at a startup means you often have to wear many hats. As a result, if a founder is ready to expand their team, they want to ensure that whoever they bring on board has the same entrepreneurial spirit as they do, and would be excited to take on work that might fall outside of their job description.

If you’re a developer looking to work with a smaller company, using phrases like “one-man team” to describe yourself can certainly help attract the right kind of attention. In Tobias Ahlin’s case, his arsenal of skills includes programming, designing, and launching mobile applications – all useful skills in the startup space.

“I don’t do it all.”

While it might be a riskier move than presenting yourself as the ultimate all-in-one web development machine, being brutally honest about your shortcomings can also work to your advantage. Case in point: this job seeker’s “resume of failures” that was even more effective at getting callbacks than his regular version.

While you don’t need to go to such an extreme, you could use Dave Shea’s more subtle approach. On his professional website, he clearly states that while he does do a lot, he can’t be all things to all clients. While it’s certainly a bold technique, it also shows employers that you’re confident in your skills and can set clear expectations – two strong qualities to have in a web developer.

“Human side”

Sometimes, web developers can become disconnected from the people they’re developing for. To put it simply, a website is built for its end users, and their goals and needs matter more than yours.

This might seem like a basic point to make, but it’s pretty common for developers to lose sight of the big picture. Anyone can list off all of the programming languages they know, but by stating that you also understand the “human side of software development” a la Jeff Atwood, you’re telling potential employers that you are more than just a technician. They can trust you with the end users’ needs, which always leads to be a better product.

“Code with passion”

Employers want people with energy and drive; people who will actively contribute to the company, and not simply go through the motions. That’s why questions like “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why do you want to be a developer?” are so common in job interviews. Hiring managers want to know that you are sincerely interested in the job, and would be motivated to perform well if hired.

When developer Ben Taylor states that he “writes code with passion,” and “designs interactions with meaning,” he’s telling potential employers and clients not just what he does, but how he does them. It might seem small, but it’s not enough to be able to do the job – companies want to see how you set yourself apart from other candidates.

“Simple but innovative”

Good websites and applications shouldn’t be complicated. They should be purpose-driven and fulfill the specific need of your end users in the simplest way possible. At the same time, the final product should also be innovative and overcome challenges in an original way.

Adam Bard was the developer behind a pre-Bumble dating site where only women can browse profiles and send initial messages. By using those three words, ‘simple but innovative,’ to describe the project on his personal website, it shows employers that he has both the creativity to identify a problem and propose a solution, as well as a keen understanding that you don’t need to include a lot of technical bells and whistles to attract an audience to a website – it just needs to work.

Another example of this guiding principle at work? Adam’s “normal” and “nerd” site modes which present his portfolio in both plain language and tech-speak. Simple but innovative.

The Language You Use Matters

At the end of the day, it’s not about what you say but how you say it. While you might have all the skills necessary to succeed in a position, your choice of words can help you stand out and drive home to employers how you would fit into the company as a whole – and often that’s what matters the most.

Is your resume in tip-top shape?Authentic Jobs has a job for you.

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.

The Next Silicon Valley? 4 Alternatives to San Francisco for Tech Workers

The Next Silicon Valley? 4 Alternatives to San Francisco for Tech Workers

Predictions of the next Silicon Valley are like the weather: every day there’s a new forecast.

There’s no denying that the Bay Area is the beating heart of America’s tech industry. Over half of all tech jobs in San Francisco pay above $100,000 per year to meet the high cost of living in the area.

San Francisco might seem unachievable for those just starting out in tech. Fortunately, several tech hubs are growing in the United States, offering more manageable real estate costs with the same job security.

Austin, Texas

Austin is no stranger to developers and designers. As the headquarters of SXSW, tech folk flock to the Texan capital every year to learn about the latest, greatest, and weirdest things that tech has to offer.

Austin’s sunny weather is a stark contract to San Francisco’s infamous fog. What’s more, it has a similarly low level of unemployment – something which tends to influence industry growth.

Like San Francisco, Austin’s growing economic power equates to higher living costs across the board. That’s likely why most of its postings reflect higher-salary job titles.

If BBQ and country music seem like the perfect after-work entertainment, check out developer and design jobs in Austin.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle trades SF’s fog for rain. It should come as no surprise that tech jobs are booming in Seattle, as it’s a popular headquarters for established giants including Amazon and Microsoft. This contributes to Seattle offering a slightly higher percentage of high-paying jobs than San Francisco.

Startups are starting to find more ground in Seattle, too. Zillow and Moz are popular success stories offering plenty of hiring growth over the next few years.

For now, Seattle offers a lower cost of living than the Bay Area. If you want to feel like you’re living in a forested city, check out web creator jobs in Seattle.

Boulder, Colorado and Portland, Oregon

If you’re looking to move to a truly up-and-coming tech hub, look no further than Boulder or Portland. Both offer a similar quality of work as tech centres like Austin, but on a much smaller, more affordable scale.

These cities hire for the same lucrative, highly specialized positions as San Francisco and Seattle. But what they lack in recognition for their tech industries is more than made up for in lower costs of living, steady growth, and lifestyle.

Portland is famous for its walkability and bicycle community, as well as its extensive network of public parks. If you want to help keep Portland weird, check out open jobs for on Authentic.

Boulder on the other hand offers both a steady supply of craft beer and rock-solid mountaineering. See any open listings on our website.

Finding a New Home

Deciding where to target a job search is only the first step. The hardest part is finding a position which fits your career goals. There are a few things you can do regardless of whether your destination.

  • Check LinkedIn for shared connections in your dream city
  • Explore job boards like Authentic for the perfect position
  • Reach out to the specific organizations you’d like to work with regardless of whether they’re advertising positions

This last point puts you on the map for potential employers. Expressing interest before a position is even available can make the hiring process easier.

Staying in Touch

It’s unlikely that Silicon Valley will be replaced by another tech hub any time soon. But San Francisco isn’t the only option for talented designers, developers, and business leaders looking for job security and community.

Look beyond the Bay Area, and you might just find the perfect locale — and a dream job to go with it.

Wherever you roam, Authentic Jobs has a job for you.