Category Archives: Job Search

How to Write a Creative Cover Letter

How to Write a Creative Cover Letter

You’re excited as you read a job description until you get to the application requirements and read: “Include a creative cover letter that demonstrates why you’re the right fit for this role.”

This line often stresses out job seekers—especially for developers and designers that are more comfortable creating products than crafting prose.

But don’t get scared off! Instead of simply rewording your resume, approach your cover letter with a creative hook that draws in the reader and allows you to communicate who you are, how your skill set would benefit their team, and why you want to work for them.

A good way to grab a hiring manager’s attention is to open with a short story or an anecdote that introduces a larger theme. Consider the following angles:

Show Your Knowledge and Passion for the Industry

If you have past experiences or achievements that show you are truly passionate about the role you’re applying to, this is a great way to break the ice at the beginning of your cover letter. These could be examples tied to the job description, the company’s mission or work, or the industry that the company works within.

Perhaps there was a defining moment in your life that set you on the path you are now on, or maybe one of your hobbies or passions can be tied directly to the job you are applying to. Think about it and find a way to make this connection in the first few paragraphs of your cover letter through a short story or an anecdote.

An example:

  • I’ve always had a love of travel and exploring new places. Throughout university, I took every opportunity to study abroad and learn from those around the world, and travel continues to be an important part of my life. Pursuing my fascination and appreciation of the many cultures and landscapes of the world as a [JOB TITLE] at National Geographic would be a dream come true.

Reveal Important Character Traits

Ambition, kindness, courage, diligence—what are the traits that define your character? Think about how these aspects of who you are as a person and as a professional could make you a good fit for the role you’re applying to.

One way to make this connection is by doing research on the company’s values and any community efforts they may be involved in. If you have an anecdote or past experience that illustrates these values you share, include it! This is a good way to show that you would be a good fit within the company culture.

This is a particularly good angle if you don’t have much or any previous experience in the sector you’re looking to move into. It allows you to illustrate how you are a good fit for the company, even if you don’t necessarily have direct professional experience in their space.

An example:

  • For as far back as I can remember, my grandma and I would visit the local craft market together every Christmas. It was something I always looked forward to; seeing all of the unique ways local artists would take mundane items and create something beautiful and unexpected. I feel like this experience instilled me with an appreciation for the creative process and looking at things differently—something I would bring to my role as UX Designer at [COMPANY NAME].

Open With Your Sense of Humor

Anyone, regardless of industry, can appreciate a talented employee that also has a sense of humor. Opening your cover letter with a humorous anecdote can be a good way to stand out while being creative.

If you choose to incorporate humor in your cover letter, keep it concise and make sure it’s tasteful and respectful. Opening with humor can be a good way to grease the wheels, but you also have to show that you are a skilled professional that takes your work seriously.

An example:

  • I think the best designs and works of art incite a reaction out of their audience. The first piece of art I ever created brought my parents to tears—of course, it was a permanent marker masterpiece on the walls of their home, but sometimes you have to go BIG! While I don’t often doodle on the walls anymore, my love of creating art that inspires an audience is as strong as ever. That’s why I want to be the Art Director at [COMPANY NAME].

Have Fun With It

The key to writing a creative cover letter is to allow yourself to think outside the box. So let yourself explore the possibilities and just start writing—you have to start somewhere.

Try not to overthink it. Take a few minutes to brainstorm and then just begin writing and see what you come up with. Once you find a good angle, trust your instincts and explore the story.

Considering a new opportunity? Authentic Jobs has one waiting for you.

A man and woman look at a laptop screen in a meeting pod.

5 Software Developer Resume Tips—With Templates to Get You Started

Many software developers are more comfortable speaking through code than writing a resume—an inevitable but frustrating part of the job hunt.

Here’s the good thing: software developer resumes don’t have to be a work of art—they simply have to get your foot in the door for an interview. As you’re writing your resume, include these five things so you stand out from the competition.

Include Side Projects

Many software developers cut side projects from their resumes to make more room for job descriptions or educational background.

That’s a huge mistake. Side projects prove that you have passion for what you do and you enjoy exploring things outside of your work hours.

That’s why hiring managers love to see projects like this on your resume and put more value in them than your grades or GPA.

Side projects are also a good way to enhance a thin resume if you don’t have much experience or a very diverse portfolio. It could also be a strategy to show a more diverse skill set if you haven’t done a certain type of project in any of your past roles.

Also, be sure to include a link to your GitHub account on your resume. This lets hiring managers see code you’ve written and gives them an idea of the projects you’ve worked on.

Describe Project Outcomes

When you include projects on your resume, be sure to also include their effects. In other words, be clear about your impact on the team or company. Hiring managers want to see that you have the ability to deliver systems that provide real value.

Do your best to connect your work with measurable outcomes. This could include improvements in operations efficiency, reduction in processing time and operating costs, or even an improved security model that reduced downtime.

For example, instead of saying this:

  • Developed a phone queue system for the support team.

Say this:

  • Created a phone queue system that allowed the support team to answer 20% more calls each hour, providing a better customer experience and reducing churn.

Cut Irrelevant Information

When writing your resume, be sure to include only the information that is most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Including information that doesn’t relate to the role clutters your resume and makes it seem like you haven’t taken the time to understand the company’s needs.

Information like what high school you attended or listing all six jobs you’ve held since you graduated from college aren’t helpful to the hiring manager. Basic skills like Microsoft Word also aren’t worth including on your resume; they are assumed skills in today’s job market—unless you’re an Excel pro, or have another niche software expertise that’s relevant to the job.

Information like the languages you can code in and operating systems you can work with is something that hiring managers look for on a software developer’s resume.

Interpersonal Skills

When applying to software development roles, don’t underestimate the value of your people skills. Most hiring managers weigh skills and cultural fit when looking to hire for new positions. If you get along well with your team, you are more likely to enjoy your role and contribute to the team’s output in the long run.

But instead of simply listing your character points like “resourcefulness” or “communication”, try to illustrate it through descriptions of your past projects and roles.

You can prove your skills by including a description of the process it took to complete a project with your team, like challenges you were met with and how you overcame them. For example:

  • Created new features and pushed updates to phone queue system based on feedback provided in interviews with support team.

Everybody says they have great problem-solving skills, but if you can’t provide examples of how you’ve solved problems, then the hiring manager has no reason to believe you.

Customize, Customize, Customize

Customizing your resume for the job you want improves your chances of getting an interview. With so many applications to go through, hiring managers often ignore boilerplate resumes and cover letters.

Research the company to get a feel for their values and approach to their products or service, then look for ways to insert references to these key values through your resume and cover letter. Always provide concrete examples to illustrate your knowledge and experience, when possible.

Software Developer Resume Templates

Ready to create a resume that gets you hired? Here are some templates to get you started:

“Professional Pack” – Microsoft Word Template

Resume Genius’ professional pack features five color options for your software developer resume. Our favorite part is its clean, timeless approach that puts the emphasis on your experience and not flashy design.

User Centered Resume – Sketch Template

This template was originally created for user-centered designers, but it’s a valuable asset for any job title. Download it on Nicole Rushton’s Medium article.

The Sir David Attenborough – Microsoft Word Template

This template is a winner by name alone. Add modern design, loads of white space, and options for customization (like changing skills to side projects), and we’re in love. Get it from Gum Road.

Considering a new opportunity? Authentic Jobs has one waiting for you.

8 Factors for Choosing Between Two Jobs

8 Factors for Choosing Between Two Jobs

The job search can be tough, so it seems like a nice problem when you’re stuck choosing between two job offers.

Take time to properly evaluate both positions to find the fit that’s right for you. Here are some personal, cultural, and accessibility factors to consider for your next career move.

Personal Gains

1. Factoring perks into salary

Salary can seem like a clear winner when choosing between two jobs. But it’s wiser to break down the perks associated with each offer before jumping into anything.

  1. Does each company offer full benefits coverage or partial?
  2. Does one offer perks like an extra week of vacation, credit towards educational programs, or more added support for your dependents?
  3. How important are stock options or equity to you, and does either company offer these?

These are all things to consider when trying to compare salaries. Be sure to factor in the value of perks before deciding if one is a clear win.

2. Balancing short-term and long-term benefits

Your next job might feel like just that: your next job. It’s actually the next step of your career.

One company may include short-term benefits such as a higher starting salary, a roomy office, and exciting travel perks. These can be great to kick off your career, but digging deeper into long-term benefits can influence where you end up down the road.

Ask yourself these important questions when choosing between two jobs:

  1. Are there opportunities for you to move up in the organization?
  2. Are there people around you who will teach you important skills and new talents to help you grow?
  3. How will this help you grow for your next move?


3. Respect for your role

When a company doesn’t fully understand your role, it can make your life more difficult, stressful, and resentment for your day-to-day tasks. It can also mean you end up with duties that don’t really fulfill you, and often lead to lackluster portfolio work.

Finding a company that respects the creative process, appropriate deadlines, and insights of a design team can determine the stress levels that follow on a daily basis.

4. Work life balance

Company culture should be a huge factor when choosing between two jobs.

We’ve all been ready to put in an all-nighter or take one for the team when needed, but is this something your work is going to need you to do time and time again? How compassionate will your office be when your personal life gets hectic, and how important is that to you?

When looking for a long-term career fit, consider what type of work-life balance you’re willing to commit to today as well as two years, five years, or even ten years from now. Will your company’s culture understand shifting work-life balance as needed?


5. Digging into the daily commute

The number one key to success in retail is location, location, location. This also applies when choosing between two jobs.

Looking at your office’s location and the commute required may feel superficial, but it’s going to take up a portion of every day going forward. Compare factors like:

  • The popularity of the location
  • Accessible food options
  • How long your commute will be every day
  • If your office offers free parking

Remember that a shorter commute isn’t just a few minutes saved every day: it can be a chance to sleep in longer or find time for exercise. This can be a huge perk to consider when choosing between two jobs.

6. Building your own 9-5

As a creative, you can’t always control when productivity strikes. You may be up late finishing your own project, and dreading the early morning commute. Having a job that lets you build your own hours means getting that extra hour of sleep in the morning but still putting in a full day of work afterwards.

Keep this in mind when choosing between two job offers. Find out what kinds of policies both companies follow regarding work day hours: Does everyone work identical hours? Do you have to choose hours and stick to them or can you adjust as needed as long as you’re putting in the time?

Being able to choose your own hours can mean scheduling your workout when it’s ideal for you, dropping off your kid when the daycare opens, or being home in time for a family meal or your favorite show.

An office’s work time policy can also reveal a lot about culture: if everyone is expected to clock in and out at a specific time, that same approach might apply to what technology you can use, what you can wear, etc.

7. Appreciating the mobile office

Things happen in our personal lives, and as much as we try to keep them out of our professional life, sometimes things overlap. Does either company have a strict policy on taking sick days or leave? Are you able to work remotely when needed, and is this an important factor for you?

Some organizations prefer their design and development team to always work in a collaborative setting. Others may be more flexible in terms of allowing individuals to work from home when needed.

These flexible options are important to consider for your long-term satisfaction: you may not need to work from home early on, but as your role grows and your life expands to include children, you’ll be grateful that you kept remote working as an option.

8. Assessing your initial communication

Pay close attention to both employers’ communication styles throughout your initial interview process. Were they quick to answer any questions and pro-active in keeping you updated? Did you feel like you’d be able to come to compromises together when needed?

Evaluating your initial communication is a great way to determine how accessible an organization may be. If you’re emailing one contact and having a different person reply a week later, it can be a sign that the company is unorganized.

The trump card when choosing between two jobs might be which company seems more responsive to your requests or questions. Open, clear communication will only become more important as you progress in the role.

Trusting Your Gut

You can go back and forth until both job offers expire, but there will always be your intuition to consider.

A job can come out on top on paper, but when you’re gut is just telling you it’s not right, it’s usually not right. It’s okay to trust that weird feeling even if you can’t pinpoint where it’s coming from. Your brain knows you better than anyone else, and sometimes you just have to trust what it’s telling you.

Considering a new opportunity? Authentic Jobs has one waiting for you.

The Designer’s Guide to Moving from Freelance to In-House

The Designer’s Guide to Moving from Freelance to In-House

Being a full time freelance graphic designer has its advantages. You get to be your own boss, work on your own schedule, and be selective in the types of projects you take on.

But freelancing also has its drawbacks. Being your own boss means that you need to make difficult business decisions while sacrificing a steady salary.

At some point, many freelance graphic designers choose to make their way to in-house roles in search of a more stable income or opportunities for career growth. If you’re thinking of moving from freelance to full time, keep the following tips in mind to make your job hunt easier.

Be Flexible In Your Search

Do you want to be a jack of all trades or a subject matter expert? Deciding between generalist and specialist listings is key to finding an in-house opportunity that suits your goals.

As a freelancer, you may be a specialist in your niche or style, but finding a full time position that fits this specific mold may take a while. If you’re looking to find a position more quickly, consider widening the net to include generalist roles. Chances are your niche skills and experience apply to more general positions, too.

Translating Your Skills

As you update your CV, make sure to highlight how your freelancing experience makes you a valuable asset as an in-house graphic designer. Even if you’ve never had in-house experience, there are many valuable skills you develop as a freelancer that will help you succeed in a full time, in-house position.

Be sure to emphasize your experience in multitasking and successfully managing multiple clients files at once. This shows that you can exceed in a fast-paced, demanding environment that many in-house teams will be looking for.

Also focus on any experience you have working with teams. At the very least, this could include working closely with in-house teams on long-term projects as a freelancer.

As you reach out to past clients to provide recommendations, consider asking if they might have a role for you in their company. Looking for opportunities with past clients is a great place to start your search when making the transition from freelance to in-house.

Negotiating Salary

Salary is a big change when switching from freelance to full time. Freelancers often make a lot more money in fewer hours of work with project-based invoicing. But, of course, this also comes with the uncertainty of not knowing if you will have another project to follow your last.

When moving in-house, you should expect to make less money on an hourly basis compared to freelancing, but it’s important to weigh the whole compensation package when negotiating your wage. You may make less from a project-based perspective, but you gain access to a steady flow of work and income. This could translate into a higher annual income, not to mention other benefits and compensation you may be provided as an in-house employee.

To calculate a fair wage for an in-house graphic designer, take a look at similar job postings in your field and city. You can also use a tool like Glassdoor’s salary estimator or LinkedIn’s salary reports.

Consider Part-Time Positions

Instead of making an immediate transition from freelance to full time, you may want to consider starting off with a part-time in-house position. That way, you’ll balance steady work and the independence of being self-employed.

If you decide to take on a part-time in-house role, you’ll need to make sure your new company lets you manage clients on the side. This would be an important discussion to have with any potential employers to make sure they are comfortable with your plans and are willing to provide you with the flexibility you need.

During these discussions, you should talk about whether you will have set hours or the option for flexible hours, if you will be expected to work from the office every day or if you’re able to work remotely, and—very important—whether there’s any conflict of interest with you freelancing on the side.

Conflict of interest may be an issue if you’re applying to work with an agency, for example, and your services are similar to those offered by the agency itself, so make sure to have this discussion to avoid any issues in the future.

Psst: Check out part-time design positions on Authentic Jobs.

Keep Your Entrepreneurial Edge

As you make the transition to an in-house graphic designer position, don’t forget the entrepreneurial edge that led you to pursue freelancing in the first place. The entrepreneurial traits of being self-motivated, driven and versatile are as much of an asset in a freelancer as they are in a member of an in-house team.

So, don’t be afraid to share your opinions and lessons learned from past experience. The right team will appreciate your insights, and your confidence and tenacity will continue to help you achieve your highest potential in your new role.

Considering a new opportunity? Authentic Jobs has one waiting for you.

The Right Way to Quit a Job You Just Started

The Right Way to Quit a Job You Just Started

Starting a new job is difficult. Even if you’re enjoying the role, it’s normal to feel nervous as you get to know your new team and understand your new boss’s expectations—feelings which usually resolve themselves once you get more comfortable and settle into the role.

But sometimes a new job just isn’t the right fit, no matter how much effort you put into it. While there’s something to be said for pushing yourself in a new role, quitting a job you just started could be the best thing for your career in the long run.

How to Decide if It’s Worth Quitting a New Job

Before jumping straight to resignation, think about why you’re not happy with the job.

Now, ask yourself: “Are these reasons worth quitting over?”

It might be worth staying in your new job if…

Many reasons people have to want to quit new jobs are chalked up to the nerves and self-doubt that comes with the pressure of starting a new role. This could include things like not being confident that you have the skills required for the job or not being sure if you’re fitting in with your team.

In these situations, if you can push yourself and hang in there, you might be able to exceed in the role and it could be a great opportunity for growth. So don’t discount it right away, even if it requires working some long hours to prove yourself until you settle into the role and feel more comfortable.

It might be worth quitting your new job if…

You could be posed with obstacles in a new job that are non-negotiable for you. This could include a job that’s either too advanced or not challenging enough, or maybe the role isn’t turning out to be what you discussed during the interview. Other problems could include issues with the company culture or creative differences with your team that you can’t compromise on.

Before discounting the role, try to speak with your boss to discuss any challenges or frustrations you’re having. While it can be intimidating to have these discussions with a new boss, it’s better to have an awkward conversation than to have regrets.

You never know, you could be reading the situation all wrong and your boss could be receptive to your point of view. If not, then it at least confirms that quitting is the right decision.

Offer a Professional Resignation

Even if you haven’t been in the role for long, it’s still in your best interest to be respectful and professional in your resignation. Every contact in your career can be useful in your journey, so you don’t want to hurt relationships or your reputation.

Be prepared to explain your reason for leaving with your manager. In this scenario, providing an honest, yet respectful response is your best course of action. Share why this role isn’t a right fit, like if you feel you don’t have the right skills for the position, or if the role really isn’t aligned with your interests or career goals.

Try to avoid speaking ill of your fellow employees or the company itself, even if this is part of your reason for leaving. You’re already out the door, so as long as what you have experienced did not include any type of harassment or other illegal behavior, it’s really not worth risking your reputation over.

If you’re still on a probationary period, you’re likely not obligated to provide the standard two weeks’ notice. However, if possible and if it seems appropriate, it’s worth offering a notice period to give the company time to find a replacement.

Explaining Short-Term Employment to Future Employers

Be prepared for future employers to ask about short stints on your resume. If you’re asked this question in interviews, be open in explaining your reasoning and what you learned from the experience.

Highlight how this new role you’re applying for would provide what you are looking for in your career, pinpointing specific areas of the job description to illustrate your points. This could include certain skills that you want to continue to grow, or particular areas of interest that you are passionate about, and how this new position will provide a good opportunity for that.

Always keep the discussion positive. Complaining about a past role will make you seem like you’re difficult to work with and hurt your chances at being offered a role.

Nowadays, people are changing positions more and more, so most employers won’t mind. In fact, leaving a job that doesn’t suit you shows that you take your career seriously and want to find a role that is truly a good fit, which are values any employer would want in a prospective employee.

In the End, It’s Your Career

While you might feel guilty quitting a job you just started, you have to follow your gut instincts and do what feels right for you. It’s better to make the move before you’re vital than to spend time in a role that you don’t find fulfilling, which often leads to your work and reputation suffering as result.

Not every role in your career is going to be your dream come true. Some roles are necessary steps to reach your goals—but you shouldn’t settle on a role that isn’t going to help you move in the right direction.

Ultimately, there’s only one question you have to ask yourself: Does your role challenge you and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something positive at the end of the day? If so, you will always find yourself working in the right direction.

Considering leaving a new job? Authentic Jobs has a new one waiting for you.

4 Ways to Ensure Growth in a New Job

4 Ways to Ensure Growth in a New Job

Starting a new job is a leap of faith. First there’s the initial shock of a new team and purpose. After that, there’s the lingering fears that the job might not have been quite right for you.

Uncertainty and stress are normal, but there are ways to still ensure you’re growing in your career and setting yourself up for success. Here are four tricks to approaching the first year at a new job.

Look to management’s culture

It sounds obvious, but understanding and adapting to the culture surrounding your new work environment is paramount.

Most importantly, look to management or founders for a read on culture. Work ethic and philosophies tend to trickle down from the top. Do they take vacation? Are they around for lunch and learns or team-building activities? Do they put in long hours or leave at 5?

Noting these behaviors can help you fit in more quickly—or decide whether you want to get out.

Master internal networking

At a new job, it can be tempting to remain within your team’s bubble. But as you settle in, try to make new connections with other colleagues.

Understanding how the organization as a whole functions and having support in other departments only helps in the long run. It can also lay the foundation for a role switch if you want a change of scenery later on.

Start branching out by considering what aspects of your skill set are underused in your current role, and if anyone else in the organization could benefit from those skills.

With this in mind, you can meet people naturally and provide immediate benefit while still growing in your role.

Don’t ignore external connections

Tapping your colleagues for opportunities and challenges is a great first networking step, but don’t forget about the outside world.

Work can be immensely isolating. So make sure not to forget about meetups, hackathons, or tech workshops in your area. Attending these events can put you in touch with creators, developers, and designers who you’d never cross paths with otherwise.

Working on passion projects with people you meet at events like these (or alone!) can act as a way of recharging your batteries while continuing to grow your skills.

Continuing to grow your portfolio as you work is never a bad thing. Especially if you already love what you do. If anything, it can show your employer a creative side impossible in your current line of work.

Learn to advocate for yourself

Most importantly, learn to represent yourself well.

There’ll come a point, often sometime around the three month mark, where you begin to adjust to your new working environment. You’ll be more confident, surer that you’ve got a feel for how the company works.

That’s the time to start planning the next few months to a year in the gig. 

Make sure that you ask for more responsibility when you feel you’re ready for it. Even if your boss or manager turns you down, they’ll know that you’re thinking about your impact.

But self-advocacy doesn’t stop with asking for responsibility. It also covers talking to your employers when you feel that your skills are being underutilized, or if you don’t understand a key aspect of your project goals.

Remember, you were hired for a reason and beat out scores of other candidates.

Hiring you to fill a key role was management’s decision. Making the best of your time there is your job.

Considering a new opportunity? Authentic Jobs has one waiting for you.

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.