Tell me where you're applying, I'll tell you how to do it

Published on 02 September 2019

Reading time 8 minutes

You have just completed a training course in programming. 

With your certificate in hand, you have completed your internship and you are embarking in the inevitable (and daunting) search for your first job as a "web developer”.

You are super motivated, you have learned so much, you just can’t wait to show them what you can do and take part in the development of a company. 

Let's do it!

You open your computer and type the holy words into the most famous search bar: "junior developer job", and... 

Panic on board!

There are so many offers, so many different companies, so many unknown names, so many job descriptions that you only half understand, so many endless recruitment processes, what can you do? Where do you start? With whom? What can you tell them?

They told you that you would find work easily "there are so many offers"...

...but they forgot to tell you that you would have to learn to understand them and sort out the offers.

Don't worry! 

I understand you and I know what you are going through, I accompany students like you every month at the Wild Code School and I help them get through it... what am I saying... to succeed at it ;)

To ensure that no one is left to face recruiters on their own, I went to meet 3 of them with whom I regularly exchange ideas. 

They work in different companies in different positions but they all have one thing in common: they are regularly assigned to recruit Junior Web Developers. 

They are very friendly (yes, recruiters are nice people), they answered my questions so that you can better understand the recruitment process, and they also give you their advice to "succeed" in your first job hunt!

Who are our 3 experts?

Gabrielle Cintorino works in a DSC*, she has been in charge of recruitment and HR at SodiFrance for the past 3 years.

"Our teams of developers help our customers in various IT-related areas. They carry out work assignments where they work either at the client's premises or from the DSC. The objective is to develop the customer's software/applications, whether they are internal applications (an internal platform for example) or external (their website for example)."

*A DSC, a Digital Services Company. Is a service company with expertise in the field of new technologies and information technology.

Justine Lépaulard works in a Human Resources consulting firm. She has been a recruitment consultant at Success Storhy for the past 2 years.

"Our clients trust us on the recruitment of skilled profiles for the open positions in their companies. Our consulting firm has a direct approach, which means that, in order to meet our clients' needs, we identify profiles that we will then approach ourselves. Most of them are already working and are sometimes reluctant to change jobs, our role will be to lead these talents to new opportunities."

Finally, Audrey Levy is Head of Human Resources (HR) at Divalto, a company that develops management software for SMEs*.

"When we recruit a profile for our company, we are obviously looking for technical skills but also people who will correspond to the company's values. In an SME there is a greater proximity between employees, so it is necessary to create united teams."

*SME = Small and medium-sized companies.

How to analyse an offer? 

Gabrielle: "For me there are 2 important things:

1- To begin with, look at the type of company that posted the offer, this information will allow you to understand the type of management. For example, in a large company you are more likely to have one or more managers than in a startup where you will probably be left to yourself in most cases.

2- You have to look at which programming language (ex: Javascript, PHP...) and the level of experience required (0-3 years for a junior). The idea here is to select only the offers for which your profile will be suitable. I wouldn't advise you to apply for positions for which you don't have the skills, you might find yourself in tricky situations and become demoralised with negative feedbacks.”

Audrey: "Read the offer carefully, does it correspond to what you want to do and to your skills? You will also need to do some research about the company and check that the offer matches your mobility capabilities." 

Why does my resume end up in the trash? 

Gabrielle: "First of all, your résumé must be visually pleasing (we all have a friend of a graphic designer friend who can help) and the information must be visible and clear. Ban the generic Microsoft Word résumé.”

Justine: "A visually unpleasant and disorganised résumé is very likely to end up in the trash without even being read. You also have to be very careful with spelling (your relatives can proofread you). A little something extra to catch the recruiter's eye: highlight (visually) your professional project (for example by adding a summary and introducing yourself in a few lines) and your skills.

Audrey: "It's very simple: be careful with your spelling, the structure must be clear to make it easy to read. Don't hesitate to detail the technologies you master and the projects you have worked on. Avoid empty spaces (you graphic designer friend can help you out). 

How to reach out to recruiters? 

Gabrielle: "Use Indeed, LinkedIn and follow the instructions related to the application. Don't forget to attach your résumé and (ALWAYS) write a cover letter. Even if it may not be read, the mere fact of having written it may turn the odds in your favour."

Justine: "I insist on this point but be careful with spelling and syntax (have your family and friends proofread it for you). I rarely read cover letters unless I hesitate on a candidate's résumé (hence the need for it to be visually attractive). The letter must therefore be well written, original, and must stand out from the crowd to convince a recruiter not to stop at the prejudices he or she has had because of the résumé received. Last point: think carefully about what you write in the subject line of your emails so that recruiters will want to open your email. A recruiter receives tons of applications and emails, so your title should spark interest and set you apart from the competition."

What is the recruitment process? 

Obviously each company has its own way of doing things, but some steps are universal, regardless of the size of the company:

Since you have a great résumé, your experience fits the position and you have not made any spelling mistakes, JACKPOT! A company got back to you, well done!

The recruiter makes an appointment for the first step (don't forget that no relatives can help you this time). 

Step 1

A 15-20 minute telephone interview with an HR manager

Your objective: make a good first impression, show that you have understood the offer and that you have learned about the company. Be able to summarise your experience by highlighting the skills that will confirm that your profile is interesting.

Did the telephone interview go well? Perfect, you can continue the recruitment process....

Step 2

An interview (often in person) of one hour, always with an HR manager.

Your goal: To be able to tell your story and explain your professional project (two stories you will prepare beforehand). Ask the right questions to show that you are interested in the company and its projects. Show that you know what you are talking about (and yes, because you have worked on past projects, you know how it works).

You have successfully completed your second interview and the company calls you back for the third step.

Step 3

A technical interview in the form of a MCQ or a real test (you will have to work on a piece of code).

Your goal: Now that you have successfully marketed your profile, it's time to prove what you can do, it's show time!

How to identify a company's vibe?

Gabrielle: "Right from the beginning, during the presentations and the first exchanges, you will quickly see if the person is kind and friendly, rather formal or not. Also, while waiting for your interview, do not hesitate to keep an eye on the activity around you, and when you go into the interview room, look around you to get a "feel" of the atmosphere".

Justine: "You can ask your contact (HR manager or other) to explain to you the social situation in the company, how the team is structured, the average age, the company's values, what is implemented internally and the know-how that the company is looking for.”

Audrey: "You have to examine the premises (break room, cafeteria), the employees, online reputation, and how things go with your potential colleagues." 

[Bonus] What to answer to "Why you and not someone else?"? 

Gabrielle: "In my opinion, you should start by summarising what the recruiter said in order to show your understanding and relevance for the company's needs.”

Justine: "I think it is necessary to highlight one's expertise, people skills and one's ability to learn new skills."

Audrey: "I would highlight my qualities related to the work, the motivation for the position, show you've researched the company and that their values are in line with yours."

I hope these tips will help you make a smashing entrance in the labour market ;)

You can do this!