Best strategy to get a job

I have to predicate this article with: this is the job finding strategy that has worked for me and it’s worked for jobs I’ve had in DevOps engineering and web application development. If any of these points do not work for you, let me know in the comments below

Maintain an app portfolio

I’ve asked the people that have hired me before if they wouldn’t mind providing the reasoning behind why they decided to hire me and not someone else and the answers they provided were:

I definitely feel that based on these responses that it’s good idea to maintain an app portfolio

My app portfolio is a website I built and it includes the following:

Buzzwords are actually positive. Some recruitment agents will skim-read through your CV so these buzzwords will increase the likelihood of your CV being selected. The same logic applies to listing the tech stacks you are using and they are also conversation starters

When I’m actually looking for a job, I expose the source code of the apps that have failed on my public GitHub profile

I have written about other reasons why you would want to work on side-projects and I definitely feel side-projects and maintaining an app portfolio is very important, particularly if you want to stand out from the crowd

Cost effective ways of hosting your app portfolio

I know it’s very important to keep costs down and thankfully running apps on the web nowadays is really cost effective and the public cloud providers offer all the resources you need

If your app portfolio is a static website with no backend processing then AWS S3 or GCP Cloud Storage will work just fine (you really don’t need to enable any type of CDN) and the cost of using these object stores is fairly trivial

If your app portfolio requires backend processing and you don’t want to manage servers, the public cloud offers some great serverless solutions. Containerisation is where you want to be and deploying containers into GCP Cloud Run or AWS ECS is simple or if you don’t use containers, GCP App Engine or Heroku will work well too

If you are up for some traditional sysadmin fun, you can always deploy your app stack into a cheap Linode or DigitalOcean instance (you don’t need a load-balanced architecture). The smallest instance sizes start at USD $5 and both CentOS and Ubuntu are offered as supported GNU/Linux distributions (both have easy to use package management systems)

Basically, this means that cost cannot be a reason why you don’t maintain an app portfolio


This is probably the most important aspect of looking for a job. It’s simply frequency and how willing you are to not easily give up

This is the typical weekly statistics when I’m looking for a job. These values are really not over exaggerated or untrue, the values are accurate and look fairly dismal

1000 copies of CV sent
950 no reply or even an acknowledgement
45 straight up reject
5 interviews
3 failed technical tests
2 went well
If I’m lucky an offer or repeat the entire process until I go blue in the face

I also try to maintain a copy of my CV that’s editable on my mobile phone. This way I can improve my CV while I’m on the toilet and I can send my CV off to a few job adverts when I’m eating lunch. The Google Docs mobile app works really well and it allows you to make the document completely public

Sign up everywhere

I’ll quite literally send my CV to every email address I get my hands on and I’ll fill out every contact form I find. I’ll message every recruitment agent I have as a contact on LinkedIn

The idea here is that you do absolutely everything possible to get your CV out there. There is really no wrong approach here. Yes, it’s a bit hack-n-slash but there is nothing wrong with the hack-n-slash approach and you should be focused on the end result

Subscribe to recruitment databases

Recruitment agents are annoying and they are the type of people that would confuse Java with JavaScript but what I’ve discovered is that some companies exclusively only hire through recruitment agents (mostly because they handle the administrative or HR hassles)

With that being said, it’s probably a good idea to create a profile with all the recruitment agencies you find on the web and make sure they know about you. If they are GDPR or POPI compliant, there will be an easy way to delete your profile and destroy your data after you have found a job

Get used to being ignored or receiving standard rejection feedback

I feel industry has a big problem with this and it’s either due to scale (simply to many people applying for work) or laziness (it’s easier to not customise the rejection response)

This will plug straight into the point about frequency I described above. Some of the rejection responses I’ve received before are actually quite funny and the process is often managed by non-technical people that are confused

It would be really nice and useful if the recruiter did critique your CV and provide a reason why the role is not a good fit but this does not happen. Even if recruiters did do this, I’d imagine it would be rubbish anyway. Even if your CV contains all the buzzwords, you can’t judge a person purely based on the quality of the CV

If you are rejected because you failed the technical test, that is quite fine. You either have skills that need improving or the technical test is broken

Don’t care if you fail the technical tests

Coding assignments and timed tests in industry are really broken and I’m not the only one that feels like this

There are some certainly valid coding assignments that test your understanding of general algorithms or data structures but most of the technical tests that I’ve being subjected to are really unreasonable

The idea here is that if you fail the technical test and this prevents you from being hired, adopt an attribute of not caring and carry on. The most important thing to do is not feel let-down or start to feel that something is wrong with your technical skills

If you do fail the test because of something that you should know, spend time learning it and I’m sure you’ll pass the test next time

What never works for me


Nothing has ever resulted from keeping in touch with the previous people I used to work with. I’ve mostly only stayed connected on LinkedIn with the occasional email. I’ve also never had success with getting useful contacts from the previous people I’ve worked with when I’m looking for suitable candidates for the positions we have open

This makes a lot of sense because almost all of the people I used to work with are going in completely different directions in terms of what DevOps engineering is

I think it could be important to maintain these relationships to some degree because sometimes it’s not what you know but rather who you know

Stack Overflow and job board aggregators

There is no shortage of job board aggregators on the web and they mostly aggregate jobs from StackOverflow. They are all stock-standard with some slight differences in their UI. The problem with these job board aggregators—particularly with remote job board aggregators, is that millions of people apply and completely overwhelm the recruitment process

If there is nothing unique about the job board and if the posted jobs simply link back to StackOverflow, skip over the job board and try and get to the source of the job (directly contact the company hiring etc)

I’ve never had success with StackOverflow jobs or job board aggregators

Contacting offers I previously rejected only sometimes works

I’m not sure if it’s sour grapes or if the position is filled but once I’ve rejected an offer, it’s never coming back. This has been the case all of the time with the exception of one

Being hired to quickly

I’ve made the mistake before of being really desperate for a job that I accept the first offer that comes about and this offer results in a job that is really not a good fit

Be sure to probe around the interviewer's personality and what the company culture is like before you accept any offer–even if the salary is really good!