At MAPC I am currently running the hiring process for a Full Stack Web Developer. If you thought trying to get a job was tough, hiring is also an equally challenging endeavor. It involves negotiation, meetings, and lots of phone calls. In this process I have been surprised at how many job candidates miss the basics.
The first thing that surprised me was how many candidates failed our technical challenge when I last hired a developer. We give most of our candidates a homework assignment that basically asks them to create a web form that submits information to a database. We tell them only to take a few hours and it is a genuine reflection of the bread and butter work that we do at MAPC. I usually take about thirty minutes to spin up an application like this in Ruby on Rails. Most coding bootcamps have their students do this as part of their projects. Yet many candidates failed to complete this challenge.
The second thing that has surprised me is how many candidates submit generic cover letters. Given the similarity of resumes, the cover letter is an important opportunity for a candidate to stand out. More often than not the cover letters I get in job applications have not even mentioned my organization or merely added it in mad libs style. As a hiring manager I care less about technical skill than why you want to work at my organization. A simple paragraph explaining specific interest in where I work makes a big difference in helping a cover letter stand out.
The final thing that surprised me is how many candidates I would phone screen that did not even look at my organization website. Recently we tried using a recruiter and so far two thirds of the candidates admitted they did not look at our website before the phone screen. They were talking to me but had no idea what my organization did. These folks were screened out right way, but shows a need to re-iterate to job seekers that going to an organization website is an important first step to standing out.