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.
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.
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.
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