How to get a job interview at Lunatech

16 August 2010

by PeterHilton

Our previous article on how to get a job at Lunatech explained why going through a recruiter makes it less likely that you will get an interview. Having explained how not to get an interview, this article explains what definitely will get you one.

Six ways to get an interview at Lunatech without writing a CV

We want to make it as easy as possible for a good candidate to get our attention, and get invited to a job interview here at Lunatech. Fortunately for good candidates, there are short-cuts: in general, having any one of the following will get you invited for an interview, if we think you are looking for a programming job.

  1. A recommendation from someone we know and respect.

  2. Committer status on an open-source project that we think is cool.

  3. A good programming blog.

  4. An impressive Stack Overflow profile.

  5. A portfolio of interesting finished software.

  6. We met you at some kind of event and thought you were a cool programmer.

The rationale here is that a job interview aims to establish whether you meet all of the criteria for being hired. If we can tell in advance that you meet one of more of these criteria then you are already more interesting than the average candidate, and we will want to interview you to check the other stuff.

The old-school approach still works, of course: an impressive professional CV is also going to get you an interview.

Personal recommendation

It should not be a surprise that a personal recommendation is at the top of the list (yes, it is an ordered list). Not only does a recommendation come with a way of judging the quality of the information (how much we trust the referee’s opinion), it often comes with far more interesting detail than the bare facts that a CV presents, as well as the opportunity to ask questions about other things we care about.

It should be obvious that nothing a recruiter says counts as a personal recommendation, because we cannot help but suppose that like estate agents, they will say anything to get their commission.

Open-source project

You do not have to actually be Emmanuel Bernard to get an interview based on your open-source project - there are a lot of open-source projects that we know about. Involvement as a committer gives us a large amount of prior information about where your skills and interests lie. Most importantly, because we can see the code, the project actually shows us your work instead of just telling us about it, which is what a CV does.

Note that there is a big difference between having submitted a patch or two and being a long-standing committer. A single patch tells us a lot less about your code, or your ability to get things done. If you are a committer, it is either your own project, or you persuaded the existing team to let you join them, both of which are interesting.

Programming blog

You do not have to actually be Jeff Attwood for your blog to get you an interview - there are a lot of good programming blogs out there, most of which feature more code than Coding Horror. There is more than one way for a programming blog to be 'good', in fact. Some are only about the code they publish, some are about the quality of the writing and the ability to explain difficult subjects clearly, and some demonstrate insight into broader software development issues.

Usually, a candidate’s blog works more like an extremely detailed CV that includes a lot of context and background information, and therefore things to ask about in an interview.

Stack Overflow profile

You do not have to actually be Jon Skeet to have a Stack Overflow profile that tells us more than the average CV. Like a programming blog, Stack Overflow activity usually provides a far more useful picture of someone’s interests and written communication skills than a CV does. Any on-line community would show us someone’s writing, but Stack Overflow’s tags uniquely demonstrate which programming topics someone writes about.

Software project portfolio

As with work on an open-source project, a good portfolio could show us your work in a way that would get us interested. This would have to be a portfolio of interesting finished software, preferably running on-line where we can see it. This is not actually very common, and not necessarily useful enough. Although it gives us an opportunity to see your work and to get an idea of you having finished stuff, it might not be possible to separate your work from someone else’s. Also, if the source code is not published we would only be looking at your work in a limited sense.

A previous meeting

Interest in a job vacancy from someone we have met is interesting because of how hard it can be to find people who fit perfectly into an existing team. We are not all clones of each other at Lunatech, which is why this is not at the top of the list, but knowing that we have enough in common with a candidate to want to work with each other is an important part of the selection process.

This actually happens quite often, because we both attend and host a lot of events each year, as well as our famous office parties.

CV

It could possibly be a surprise that the CV itself is last. This is mostly because it can be difficult and time-consuming to interpret a CV, especially when the interesting facts are well-hidden. One of the other items on our list can get you an interview invitation more quickly; we are looking for URLs at the top of the CV. An impressive professional CV is one that shows commercial software development experience that matches what we are looking for.

Conclusion

Sending us a traditional CV is not a bad idea, but it does not make it particularly easy for us to conclude that we want to interview you. At the very least, we will always try to find out more on-line because a CV always leaves too much out. Ultimately, we are looking for at least one good reason to interview you, which is where the list above comes from.

In fact, if you really could put one of the bullets above on your CV, then you can probably just skip the CV and tell us where to find details on-line. Either way, send your e-mail to employment@lunatech.com.