Coding bootcamp: Your LinkedIn Profile is more important than you thought!
It would be a lie if we [LearningFuze] told you that getting a job after a bootcamp is easy. A quick google search of “coding bootcamp” brings up You Tube videos, Medium posts, and even news reports of how difficult a post-bootcamp job search can be. The issue with this is that many programs helping people learn to code take an old school approach to the job search process. They’ll help you build a resume, tell you to network, and then show you how to hit Apply on Indeed. With over 95% of Recruiters using the platform having a profile isn’t enough, you need a LinkedIn profile that is optimized for a web development job search. LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to separate yourself from the pack yet it’s often misused, here we will dive into a few obvious and less obvious sections your profile should have.
To say that I am a fan of LinkedIn is an understatement. My facebook rarely gets checked, Instagram is nice to keep up with friends, but LinkedIn provides me with; professional networking, industry news, access to millions of jobs, and even a new Learning platform. As a job seeker why wouldn’t you be spending the majority of your day here?
Thankfully Hayden Field over at Entrepreneur recently wrote a great article that I’d like to expand on a bit. In her article she tells the story of how Klook, a travel booking site recently valued at $1 billion, found their CTO because of the quality of his LinkedIn profile. This isn’t the story of an InMail message and what followed, but instead the aspects of Bernie Xiong’s LinkedIn profile that stood out from the other candidates; a complete profile, the voice and tone he gave it, and how engaged he was.
Your profile likely isn’t as complete as you think…
A complete profile may sound easy, but too often people only put 50-75% effort into their profile and end up leaving out some important aspects. In the article Hayden dives into the statistics of having a profile picture, filling out at least 15 skills, and the importance of listing your location. For someone actively searching for a job you need to ensure your profile is air tight and while those 3 pieces will get you started they don’t lead to a truly complete profile.
Contact information, portfolio and GitHub links, education, and previous experience can all be very important for a coding bootcamp graduate to include as well. As an active job seeker you should make it as easy as possible for employers to get in touch with you, include any and all ways you’d be comfortable with an employer contacting you. These can include email, phone, Twitter, and more. If your coding bootcamp doesn’t help you build a portfolio and encourage you to have publicly viewable code on a platform like GitHub or Bitbucket then run the other way. A portfolio and GitHub are crucial pieces to a successful job search as a Jr Developer. Most bootcamp graduates are coming from a non-tech background and don’t have a CS degree, so when entering a new industry it’s important that you have something to show to potential employers. You may think that your Psychology degree or experience as a Customer Service Rep won’t land you that Web Developer job, but employers want to get to know you and like to see what you did before coding. At LearningFuze we help students find previous experiences and strengths that they can bring to this new career. For example, as a Psychology major you have insights into human behavior and how the mind works that will hopefully help you create beautiful user experiences.
What makes you, you?
After quickly scanning for a complete profile employers will then spend a bit more time reading into who you are. Your profile picture relieves any fears they may have of hiring an ax murder, your Skills align with what they are looking for, and you’ve even got some applications showcasing the programming skills learned in the coding bootcamp so now it’s time for them to get to know you. Hayden’s article talks about how the Klook founders were impressed with the way Xiong’s profile clearly laid out his technical knowledge, wasn’t too wordy, and still gave them a good idea of his past accomplishments. No one is saying you need to channel your inner John Grisham but you still need to put together a Summary that talks about what makes you, you.
The beauty of a Summary is that it’s your story and no one else’s, take advantage of that! The three main pieces I suggest students include are; life before LearningFuze, what it is about coding that you love, and finally what did you do during LearningFuze that you can bring to a future employer. Some easy questions to ask yourself that will help make writing this a bit easier; are you bringing any previous education or work experience that relates to web development (don’t forget there’s more to pull from than you realize), why did you decide to learn to code, what languages did you learn at the coding bootcamp, what applications are you proud of, and what do you want to do next?
Are you worrying that this could end up getting a little long and thus will contradict what the Klook founders said above about keeping the Summary short? If you are a coding bootcamp grad then your situation is much different and it will be okay to have a Summary that’s 1-2 paragraphs. You also don’t want to forget that by now the hiring manager has already committed to learning more about you and is likely okay reading a few extra sentences. Go ahead and tell people about what you did before deciding to learn to code, your past experience could even be the reason you get hired over other Jr Developers.
Don’t just say you love coding, show it!
An often forgotten piece of your LinkedIn profile is your Activity. It’s one thing to say that you are a “Web Developer open to new opportunities” but another thing to write articles and share posts about Web Development or even just the broader tech community. Hayden’s article touches upon the fact that Asia is much more of an “information consuming” culture rather than one of “contributing” like the US. Since we are gearing your LinkedIn profile for a job here in the States let’s talk a bit more about staying engaged.
Employers don’t just look at LinkedIn engagement to see if you actually “love web development” but also to learn more about your interests and hopefully get an idea of how involved you will stay once a full time employee. Your LinkedIn Activity does not need to be limited to the roles you are applying for, sharing articles or thoughts on areas outside can paint a great picture of who you are. Finally, employers aren’t just looking for people that are currently involved but likely to stay that way. If you are already active then how much easier will it to be when this becomes your full time career.
Profile Permanently Under Construction
We’ve discussed a few major LinkedIn Profile pieces but please don’t think this means you are done. In fact, until you retire, you should feel that your LinkedIn profile is always under construction. Your interests, passions, and responsibilities will evolve so make sure your LinkedIn is reflecting that. As soon as you’ve got some new skills or have developed new interests make sure they are added. If you aren’t updating your profile then how are people supposed to know that new front-end framework or passion project you’ve taken on. For those of you coming out of a coding bootcamp hopefully someone is sitting down to give you individual profile feedback. The students that come through LearningFuze have a wide array of past experiences and as a result each person will have a different profile. Don’t let your coding bootcamp leave you with a cookie cutter profile, make sure you are taking the time to tell your story!
After 4 years in the IT Staffing industry and my last 2 at LearningFuze I have seen thousands of LinkedIn profiles. I have seen industry leaders with profiles that look like a Yellowpages listing and recent college grads whose profile is so impressive I’ve shared it with other Career Services experts. It simply comes down to effort and unfortunately this is where I see coding bootcamp grads getting affected the most. Each day I get connection requests from graduates of other programs only to open up a profile that looked like it was created in 20 minutes. During our Full Immersion we will spend 2 hours building your initial profile and then check on it throughout the program to make revisions. Find a program that takes pride in your LinkedIn profile just as much as theirs.
As seen through Hayden’s article LinkedIn can be an amazing job search tool when used properly. Take some time to check on your profile every once in a while and ask yourself if it represents who you are and who you want to become. If we are continuing to use developer jargon then consider it a debugging.
If you weren’t previously convinced of the importance of LinkedIn then hopefully Hayden’s story of Klook helped dispel that. After showing how valuable it can be in the job search it’s also important to understand that LinkedIn is so much more than a profile picture and past experience. Any job seeker can quickly take care of those sections so set yourself apart. Spend an hour or two building a beautiful profile and then check in throughout the week to stay engaged. Who knows, maybe you’ll be part of the next unicorn and this article will be getting updated with your story?