Episode #6 - The state of the front end job market, perfecting your CV, and how to cope with a job search in a crisis

CV tips, job hunting in a crisis and the state of front end recruitment

In this Episode

This this sixth episode, Emily Beardshaw, a front end specialist recruiter, talks to us about the state of getting hired in today’s front end market, especially in light of the global COVID pandemic. She’s also sharing how she went from philosophy and politics into recruitment, and how to tailor your CV to maximise your hiring chances.

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Part 1

Rob 0:00 Joining us today is Emily. Emily is a front end development and design specialist recruitment consultant with Oscar technology. Welcome Emily. Thanks for being on the show.

Emily 0:10
Thanks for having me.

Rob 0:12
How are you doing in this? This this episode because of the way I record things we’re doing this on March the 18th. But this maybe it’ll be posted a few weeks later but we are right in the thick of the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation and is hit a lot of people very hard. Recruiters especially how are you finding it

Emily 0:33
changed overnight kind of thing is tomorrow could be a completely different day. No one really knows what’s going on we trialled today working from home like today was my first experience being a remote recruiter which was definitely different. And I think that if we do go into lockdown, and this becomes the future for quite a while the yeah the recruitment industry is going to be going quite different. But business as usual, some clients are halting recruitment, but then other clients are upscaling on things the market is going in a different direction is definitely still there.

Rob 1:10 I think what’s been nice to see is I’ve seen a few things on LinkedIn where people have said, Please don’t be put off by applying for jobs are trying to recruit people for them. And a lot of companies seem to have switched into doing like remote interviews, whether that’s through slack or zoom and things like this. And that that’s quite interesting that people have managed to keep it keep it going. Even though those positions maybe weren’t kind of remote originally, they’ve switched the recruitment. Have you found it? It’s handled you significantly it just kind of people have just adapted fairly well?

Emily 1:41
Yes, it will. So I think a lot of companies already hadn’t quite like dice for these situations. And a lot of companies do things remote nowadays. We have access to video platform. We’ll ask a lot of clients I’ve been finding already have access to this and they’re not they’ve not been put off at all in their processes, so I’ve got jobs at the moment that half the interviews have been done face to face and the other half has been done now through video platforms and it put no candidates at a disadvantage and it’s not really changed much at all. So potentially This is going to be the future post COVID-19 as the way recruitment can be in business could be in general. So I’m thinking probably quite a lot of positivity will come from it. A lot of companies being a lot more open to remote work and

Rob 2:29 yes, hopefully, I mean, it certainly shouldn’t you know, I know some companies struggle with like full remote kind of and that shift because I think it is a bit of a mind shift, a mindset shift and a culture shift and you know to do it’s not as easy as well, we have Microsoft Teams are we have slack so we can we can kind of set that up. How do you find working remote, I would imagine part of your job is kind of remote anyway that you’re dealing with, say, people like me as a candidate through like phone calls, or maybe things like that. So is it really have you found Be quite odd doing more kind of work from home.

Emily 3:02
Yeah, definitely. And just not being in that office environment and what I specialise in front end. But we niche for a reason, because it makes us obviously a lot better at what we do. I have next to no knowledge really on the back end and just having my colleague next to me, at the exact same location as me. We work with the exact same clients and it does it it makes it a lot more difficult because we all bounce different things off of each other and it makes the whole process in a recruitment office, there’s a lot of collaboration amongst each other in the area had not having that human interaction it will take a lot of getting used to definitely

Rob 3:43 do you have any any advice for people in the job market now both you know, I suppose from the hiring company side of it and the job seekers on kind of handling searches and hiring during a difficult period like this, which is quite unique. I think we’ve not seen anything like this before

Emily 3:59
everyone’s worrying, I’ve had my worries. And I’m sure everyone has for their own different reasons. But one thing my CEO is just repeatedly told us, it’s a health crisis, not a financial crisis, and the economy is going to take a huge hit for this, but the work is there. And so they’re gonna still need the work, whether it’s now or whether it’s later on down the line when they need the project again, or they kick start it again. And I think that now is probably more than anything, one of the best times to be getting on a job search because if they’re hiring right now, they need you more than ever, your skills are needed because they’re still recruiting that position in a time like this. And so you know, that you’ll be valued job is secure. Need is more than ever, and what you’re doing is is actually going to be such a fundamental part of business, and then for a lot of other companies, putting things on hold or having flexible start date. It’s a one of those times when is the best best time to just lock locking jobs or locking the best candidates, the top talents out there. And the work is still about whether it’s now or it’s in the future. And that’s just the way the that we’re going to go for forward with it all.

Rob 5:14 Yeah, definitely. Yes. That’s, you know, it’s great advice, I think, yeah, just basically don’t don’t fear the COVID. Just Just keep going.

Emily 5:22
Yeah, it’s all still there. It’s just, we’re all just doing it from the comfort of our homes now. And that’s just what I think people need to remember.

Rob 5:31 Now, a big part of what we do on the show is we’d like to talk about origin stories, no matter who we get on whether it’s how did you get in development or recruitment? And a little bit of a bit of a look round on your profile on LinkedIn. So you did a degree in philosophy and politics. Yeah. And I always like people who start with something completely random and end up in a completely different place. So how did you go from philosophy and politics and get into front end recruitment?

Emily 5:58
Well, yes, philosophy and politics, I think a lot of people be humanities because they enjoyed a good college and school and just a route you go down when you don’t particularly know we’re going to be doing after uni and I still didn’t know an idea I did a lot of travelling in between finishing and then ended up in recruitment and I almost fell into it I knew about friends that had done it and that really succeeded in it and it stands out as being one of the best progressive industries to go into after you finish uni. Yet fell into it and ended up with the market I’ve gotten I’ve just absolutely I’ve absolutely loved it and the I just love working with the people that I’m working with in the markets it’s such a good market to be in and the location my market’s in as well is Yorkshire in the northeast and I went to uni in York as well. So it’s it’s such a nice excuse to get Yeah, go up there quite often and network with clients and candidates. It was never a plan, it just happened.

Rob 7:05 it I had a couple of recruiters from the kind of London region on to talk about kind of you know similar similar topics and they said something very similar you know they kind of fell into it someone started with an accountancy degree you know what yeah this isn’t for me I want to do something else but they really like people and it seems to be one of the big draws to get into recruitment is that you get all of the kind of excitement and thrills and drive that you get with sales without kind of as much of the harshness because people I think, actually want your services like you’re not cold calling them right just get angry people on the phone a lot. You’ve got both the company side who want to get a person to do the job and you want the job seekers who want to do that job so you must get it must be as it was quite a quite a nice sales environment to work in.

Emily 7:48
Oh yeah, definitely. I’m, I’m the least salesy person going in every everyone says that about me in the office. love my job. I’m good at what I do, but I sit there with my cup of tea, my heater, my electric heater by me blanket around me. And if I’m not salesy most will probably can imagine a recruitment office than there are for now and Wolf of Wall Street but no and I think that’s why I love the company that I work at as well. Everyone has come from a different background doing different things, wanting different things out of their career and probably say more than half of my office, they’re just not your typical salesy people, which inspires you a lot in what in what you do.

Rob 8:29 I was just gonna say, I think most people have that image of like, recruitment floors just like the wolf of Wallstreet. Get me that job give me a job now. Now you’re relatively fresh to the recruitment scene. Yeah, right in saying. And obviously, I would imagine this Coronavirus is probably one of the biggest changes you or anyone else is likely to see. But in that time before, like pre COVID-19 you know, what kind of changes have you seen, if any sort of, you know whether it’s a shift to different technologies or like an upsurge in particular jobs and resource hunting and what kind of big changes have you seen in that time?

Emily 9:06
I mean, from when I’ve been starting that had the market for the past six months has been, it’s been a really good model being on the front end to be and I think very recently, there’s been a lot of jobs are not enough top candidates for the positions with a lot of the rise of things like North coders and a lot of junior developers, brilliant junior developers now and they’re all skilled in React, a lot of companies are shifting their front end platform to be focused on developing using react and there’s there’s not enough of that in between developers to be able to mentor these juniors and lead over the juniors and it’s been quite a struggle with with that that I found that I found about quite a lot with my manager who she does front end in Manchester and she’s been in the market for absolutely years now and she said the biggest change is this surge in react everyone go into that route, yeah, the market recently, it’s been a really good time to be in there.

Rob 10:05 That’s interesting because I do try and monitor those kind of things. I see a lot of questions on the other day about, you know, companies looking to build this new bit of whatever and debating where they go with vue or react. And then they’re asking for kind of opinions, which is like opening the door to a nightmare. Yeah, developers coming on to do this one, it’s the best and there is no best I keep saying this all the time. But you know, the best one is wherever you want to work with that helps you be more efficient. And I also because I do kind of mentoring through coding coach platform, which is just brilliant and puts you in touch with a lot of aspiring developers. That’s interesting that you said there’s a bit of a gap there between maybe junior developers coming up. So if you were going to advise people to get a specific skill set, would you advise going with maybe skilling up on something like react or focus on like the fundamentals,

Emily 10:56
people are looking to self teaching themselves and not go down the route of coding course because it can be such an expense. I think the skill set that they’re teaching or they’re learning is for a reason going down the react route is definitely the way that front ends going. I think as a junior candidate having learned those skills particularly in react What do we say what’s gonna make you stand out it’s just being different having things that make you stand out, stand apart, things that extra things you’ve done making yourself look different to every single other candidate that’s coming out of these courses because they will they will come out with relatively for the same CV and then there’s not much that makes them stand apart and I think definitely though, the react, the react route is what they’ve all got, but it’s the way that most companies are going down. So that’s where the work is gonna be.

Rob 11:46 And specifically with juniors I mean everyone needs sort of help with their with their job search and that’s why you guys you know, exist and I that’s why I think recruiters are you know, they get a lot of stick. I think the good ones do they are more than a necessary evil, they’re very good because they facilitate that kind of back and forth between you and employer and I might end up in the bin I’m sure I’ve ended up in plenty of hiring bins in my time. And you don’t have that middleman to really kind of get you a second look, but especially for junior or inexperienced or aspiring developers, is there anything they can do to make themselves stand out in because I imagine, like you said, with with being junior, you don’t have the experience, maybe to fall back on so you do look, you do risk looking a bit more like a number, like a lot of other junior developers, what can they do specifically to you know, stand out?

Emily 12:34
Most recruiters won’t say this, but your big, big, massive companies like Barclays, BBC, if you want a job, they don’t need a recruiter to go and get them that there’s so many Junior jobs out there. But again, yeah, like you’re asking the question, what is it that stands out? It’s portfolios. It’s extra work you’ve done. My manager told me a story recently, actually a candidate she’d met with one who’s got a job at pretty little thing. junior developers come out of his course and he’d noticed something he really wanted to drop down, you know, something on the website with clicking something into the basket, there was a little glitch, and he broke it apart, did all the rework and like this is what I’ll do this will fix this. We’ll fix that. But now, I mean, you can’t not give him the job to fix the glitch and obviously that out of someone who’s probably gone and done their degree, done a placement year, done a bit of commercial experience, that Junior CV just coming out of the coding course and gone out of your way and done this extra thing that shows that you’ve got the drive to learn the commitment, the passion for doing what you doing that that will be the kind of the candidate that stands out by a mile

Part 2

Rob 0:00 Yeah, like that story of a bit, it’s almost borderline ethical hacking, or actually going by like that. It’s up there with those people who send like little gift baskets ahead of time to companies with like, their photo and a little ‘hey, this is me’. I had, like I said, I recently had a couple of recruiters on and I think, you know, we try to get to the heart the benefits of engaging with the recruiter, but you know, from both sides as a as a company, or candidate, and I think, you know, I did put a bit a few words into their mouth a little bit. So, I mean, this time, could you explain a little about why recruiters are a good thing and how candidates and companies you know, can really improve the hiring by engaging with them.

Emily 0:37
Everyone can imagine everyone’s probably had a bad, bad experience with a recruiter at some point and it happens but the main thing is finding a recruiter that just works for you. That gets you understand what you want. Get to know you before even talking to you about position because how can you talk to someone about position if you don’t know what it is that they want? Right? Find a recruiter that will get to know you will understand you will know what gets you ticking in development, then we’ll know what what you what you had for dinner, what you had for dinner last night. What were you going on holiday, all of that. And then if you still got any worries, say to them, or do you want to meet me for coffee, if they’re local, if they’ll go out their way out of the office to meet you, then you know that they’re a good one. Definitely because they’re making that effort to go meet you. And once you’ve got that trust with that one, then I mean, I’ve had candidates who have placed who said they’d never work with another recruiter and some of my other colleagues have got that as well. You have the people that come back because they work with you once and you’ve built that trust, you’ve got that relationship. They know they know what what you want out of out of a job and out of your career. And I think thinking about your career as a long term working with recruiters is so beneficial on a candidate end and also throughout the process and the back and forth a recruiter will be able to negotiate an offer in a way that a candidate going through the process organically wouldn’t be able to do just naturally because we have the market knowledge. You might not be able to say to a to a client, or well I know that actually, no, barely anyone else in the market at the moment has the skills that I have and the experience I have at the salary I want. A candidate just naturally wouldn’t know would probably never know that whereas we would. And then I think when it comes down to factors like that, or candidate side, it does bode a lot more in your favour in the opportunities and when it comes to offer stages as well.

Rob 2:38 I think another point that really never gets discussed is about kind of safeguarding or kind of preparing for the future. You know, there’s probably people listening to this or sat, sat out of work thinking, Well, I’m really happy I could spend the next 10 years here and that’s fine. And I’ve worked with people who’ve worked in places for sort of 25 years plus and they’re happy as a clam. However, I also like last year, felt the strike from the redundancy hammer. I was at a company for five weeks, and they just entirely wiped the development team out overnight. Noone was expecting it. We just sort of rocked up on a Thursday like, yeah, let’s do some react. And it was actually, I’d rather just go home and never come back. You know,

Emily 3:15
What a nightmare, you’d only just started.

Rob 3:18 It was Yeah. But I mean, fortunately for me, I found another job. That one I’m in now in about two and a half days, I think it was. And that is not because I’m some kind of legendary coder that people clamber before. But I think it’s because I’ve always tried to foster those relationships. And I take time to speak to recruiters. If I’m not even remotely looking at a job, I’ll say those 5-10 minutes, and just sort of, you know, make the connections. Because then when you do need help, that you can leverage that and say, Well, look, now I’m on the market. Keep stuff up to date as well. I always have a look to their CV or LinkedIn profile. And this developers I know where they’re like, Oh, well, some of the ones from last year. You know, they were like, oh, I’ve worked here for sort of five years. Now I’m stuck in that to spend ages kind of updating profiles and CVs and then kind of then putting themselves out there and you are at that point quite an unknown quantity. So I suppose maintaining those relationships as well makes it much, much easier.

Emily 4:10
Yeah, it’s really useful like, see found a job in two and a half days. It takes the pressure off in situations like that. And it’s a shame and it is really hard for a lot of people have probably been people who’ve already been made redundant with the current situation, and it takes the pressure off, it’s the last thing you want to do getting on a job search. We do it full time, all day resource, like working to get you a job. So for us two and a half days, we’re working on it full time it takes the pressure off it speed up and it makes that whole situation a little bit lighter for people and I think in the times that we’re in at the minute, a lot of people are probably going to look to turn to a recruiter if they’re made redundant because it’s not just the stresses of being made redundant. It’s the stressors outside of that with the current situation of this crisis

Rob 5:06 When people are looking for roles and things, but how can candidates help you to help them? Because I presume you must work with some, some difficult ones, here and there,

Emily 5:15
in terms of how they would be able to help us is tell us absolutely everything, even if it’s the longest list of requirements, so be exactly what you want, how flexible you’ll be if you can’t be flexible at all, that helps us well, I know it helps me because it makes sure that all the roles that I scrape out, for particular candidate, I know would be suitable. So don’t feel like wasting any time and I think it’s just transparency on both ends. And I know a lot of candidates worried that recruiters aren’t being transparent and so they themselves don’t want to be definitely transparency is key. And that’s what helps the process

Rob 5:56 and when it comes to when it comes to CVs, again it’s another one of those things where everyone’s got a different bit of advice and lots of articles, but it seems to be and there is no magic formula because the end of the day you’re, you’re putting some kind of, you know, document together to represent you and you’re giving it to someone else. And it’s all there’s an awful lot of subjectivity in there. But specifically with CVs, I mean, you guys have a bit more of an insight into kind of how they’re seen and vetted. Do you have any advice for people that are either looking to put a good CV together or improve their existing CV? What makes it what makes a killer CV?

Emily 6:29
I mean, nowadays are probably no more than depending on how long your career history is, or wouldn’t say no longer than three, three pages, because it just begins to be so lengthy and a lot of the times if it’s just a Word document, we process it, we reprocess it in a certain way. So the data is there all standardised but if someone sends a CV and PDF that they’ve added their own flair to that they’ve made it their own, that always stays the same because like that, you that that’s something that you’d never be able to format into into a certain way because that is that own person’s individual CV. And again, it’s about standing out, you want to see the standout and show what you’re about, then yeah, definitely adds a bit of flair to your CV, but page lengthwise, and no more than four pages is anything more than four pages, it’s become perhaps War and Peace

Rob 7:27 Trim it down, and add stickers, they go down well. You touched on a benefit that I think that is sometimes missed, again, about recruiters is that if you have a CV, and you just kind of spam it out to companies or just send it direct, you’re kind of at the mercy of the other hiring people and they’re, you know, whether they like it or not, are going to be somewhat conditioned and subjective for certain things in certain CVs to stand out. And you mentioned about kind of if you go through a recruiter you kind of standardise some of them and is that one of the benefits you’d say of using a recruiter is that you can, you act as a bit of a buffer if you like with with CVs, they sort of go I wouldn’t put that in, I’d maybe put something else in or could you expand on this and help you submit the kind of best version of your CV to things that you’re applying for?

Emily 8:11
Yeah, of course, I would. I would never, I know no one I work with would ever change someone’s CV. But if I’d had a conversation with them, and they were specifically looking for an Angular position, saying, they hadn’t touched and they’d had stock loads of focus, angular experience, in no word that they hadn’t explained, explained much about it within their CV, I definitely get back to them and say, oh, maybe you could add a bit more in this or do you want to send me a bit of a paragraph explaining the work that you’ve done with Angular and where you’ve used it and how you’ve used it? And then we could maybe add that into your CV. So it it’s just a thing becuase if someone’s looking for something specifically or focused in a specific framework, then in that case, we’d we’d work together on creating a CV that’s best tailored to that position

Rob 9:04 That’s really cool. Yeah, I think this is I don’t know what what it is with CVs, they’re one of those I think you either fall into two camps of the people I’ve met the the like me and that I really overthink it. Anyway you’re constantly going Is this good? Is this the best version? Or they just really kind of half arse it and they just do we just put jobs and dates in and off they go. Now we do like you know everyone likes the juicy sort of horror stories and gossip Do you have any kind of candidate horror horror stories or or even client, oh you probably can’t talk about client horror stories. But do you have any kind of candidate horror stories even if it’s just please don’t do this as a candidate?

Emily 9:42
No, I’m trying to think now. Put me on the spot that one

Rob 9:46 it’s probably good if you don’t have any.

Emily 9:48
No, I will. I mean, I don’t have any any any awful ones. Yeah, I mean, sometimes Yeah. Sometimes it’s difficult when you have difficult clients and it reflects badly on you and people don’t get happy but no i’ve i’ve never particularly no no horror stories for my end, sorry to disappoint. Yeah no definitely put on the spot and trying to think if anyone in my office that… Oh quite a funny one, one of my not so much a horror story, a colleague of mine candidate obviously wrote her a cover letter and tailored it specifically to her in the role that she was recruiting for, and then never took it off their CV and cover letter the cover cover letter tailored for her was all over the job board Dear Mrs. Mrs. so and so. And that was quite a cracker for a while in the office every time we were seeing her her name cropping up as a candidate, but no, no, no horror stories. Really. I think that Yeah, we work with lovely candidates and we’re all lovely people. So sometimes I find funny stories but no horror stories.

Rob 10:58
No, it’s probably good. It probably is. means you’re working with a good calibre calibre of people. For instance, the the other episode with the they had a horror story in there about a candidate that kind of interviewed really well up until the point he actually physically went in like the telephone, the initial kind of telephone and they tech test and stuff but he sounded like he basically got someone else to do it for him. And then he kind of eventually just horribly fell apart at the interview stage again, don’t do that. Because eventually you’ll get found out unless you work for something unless you end up in some position where you work for a massive company and you can really fly under the radar people will notice when you say yeah, I can code and then you just obviously can’t, so probably don’t do that.

Emily 11:40
Yeah, no nightmare. No, no, don’t don’t go catfishing because it will be will be found out at some point.

Rob 11:48
And what about from the because I mean, obviously we’ve talked a lot about candidates and you know, that’s that’s where obviously a lot of focus might fall but from a company’s point of view, do you have any recommendations or advice For companies looking to hire the best tech, obviously apart from you know, use yourself as a recruiter that’s that’s just a given. But in terms of, you know whether how they can improve their hiring process or just some things, some maybe red flags or things to watch out for during the hiring process,

Emily 12:16
If there are red flags you initially have, gut instincts and watch out for people that have maybe switched jobs quite a lot, or just things that don’t add up? I always say they’re the biggest red flags but that’s again, what you use recruiter school because we get to the nitty gritty of why they’re asking for that salary or why they’ve got those jumps in in their CV because it’s an internal talent team for a lot of companies under a lot of pressure for recruiting, not just across because I do IT recruitment, not sure cross IT recruiting across the whole company and a lot of the time it’s to shortlisting CVs, and so they might automatically see these red flags and not even take it any further and that could be the candidate that is perfect for the job and gets the job. So I think definitely using a recruiter is ideal to clear those red flags up for you and really go into detail with vetting every single candidate.

Rob 13:15
Do you do your due diligence! Try saying that three times fast!! Do you know, we’ve covered an awful lot. And I think, you know, that’s been some great hints and tips and help on the kind of the state of the market. And I think anything, even if it’s like a small thing that can just help people improve their chances of being hired. Thank you for coming on and talking to us.

Emily 13:38
Oh, no, thank you for having me.

Rob 13:39
No, no. Anytime I asked this of everyone at the end. Is there anything that you’d like to anything else you’d like to plug or mention? I’ll ask Emily to send me all the things she wants. And I’ll put them in the show notes. So there’s nice clickable links. But yeah, if you got any, any kind of plugs, anything to big up,

Emily 13:55
I just think everyone just at the moment everyone just stick together. Band together, don’t worry. Somethings, naturally some industries are gonna really struggle during this time but a lot of industries and a lot of clients I’m already speaking to are scaling up and still either business as usual or really thriving. So just look after yourselves all stick together and turn to a recruiter whether you want whether you are on a job search or you’ve been made redundant or you want to start having a chat with a recruiter for prior to when when things just start to calm down, or even just the market knowledge. I’m always I usually always say that I have an open diary for go meet up for coffee but I still have an open diary but we’ll have to be a virtual coffee from here on

Rob 14:45
Yeah, we did on the last episode was like yeah, conferences are great, go to conferences, but not right now. When everything comes down and go to them later,

Emily 14:54
yeah, at a later date.

Rob 14:57
You can find Emily on LinkedIn, if you just do a search for Emily Beardshaw and you can find her company that she works for Oscar technology. They are @OscarRecruits on Twitter, or Oscar dash tech dot com (https://oscar-tech.com) on the old internet. Thank you very much for coming. Emily. been a pleasure. And hopefully speak to you again.

Emily 15:17
Oh, brilliant. Thank you. You too. Take care.

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About The Front End

The Front End Podcast explores the in's and out's of life as a developer. Covering topics such as modern-day development, learning and professional growth, frameworks, tools, techniques, UX/UI, and careers.

Created by Rob Kendal, a UI developer from Yorkshire.