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General Discussion

How to define your skills on a CV, what questions to expect in development job interviews and how best to showcase work?

I'm just approaching a point where I'm starting to dip my toe into the job market. I've been with Treehouse for a few months now and it's really done the trick!

I've had a couple of interviews already and prepared for development related questions by searching for likely question to come up . As you can imagine, I found lots of the random and the bazaar, but no genuine, gritty breakdown of an interview specifically for web development.

My biggest hang up: How to gauge and describe your skill-set on a CV in a fair and accurate way.

I've found this really hard. I don't know about you, but I spend all my time working on web development. Either taking courses on Treehouse or applying my knowledge on small (but increasingly frequent) jobs for friends of friends etc. I therefore have no idea how good/bad I am for lack of contact and comparison with other developers. Having said that, I'm obviously not going to be a pro after 6 months but I also wouldn't describe myself as a complete beginner. I could say intermediate, but it's very open to interpretation and 'amateur' suggests hobbyist.

What a pickle.

My current skill section looks like this:

Coding: Comfortable: html5, css3, php, phpMyAdmin, WordPress Up and coming: jquery, javascript, MySQL, db architecture, git Just starting out: Ruby on Rails, SASS, custom WordPress templates

Design: Comfortable: Premiere Pro, Photoshop, DreamWeaver Up and coming: Muse, Reflow, Illustrator Just starting out: After Effects, Edge Animate

I am very interested in personal development and to indicate this to an employer, I've split my skills for both coding and design into three main categories: 'Comfortable', 'Up and coming' and 'Just starting out'. I'm hoping this shows continued development and that I'm learning new things.

I switched out 'Confident' with 'Comfortable' after a recent interview - Beware: I learned very quickly that when an employer reads 'Confident' it suggests "This person will be able to complete any task I set in this language". This didn't go down to well when I flunked the interview test when I couldn't answer 50% of the questions.

With the word comfortable, I'm trying to say:

  • has a feel for the language
  • If I don't know how to do something, I can navigate and read the appropriate documentation/resources/...google.
  • Solid grounding with some intermediate/advanced skills (I think they're intermediate/advanced? As I said.. I literally have no idea what 'good' or 'advanced' means in programming).

So what would/do you put on your own CV to describe your skills? Is there a checklist or benchmark of things you should definitely know how to do before you can say "I'm fantastic at php".

Have you got any interview advice you can share?

Do you/can you showcase, say, the php code from your latest project?

2 Answers

Danielle Hill
Danielle Hill
26,062 Points

Hi Thomas! Have you considered a portfolio website to display your projects? That will allow potential employers to see examples of your work and gauge your skill level. I am at a similar stage in becoming a developer and I am starting to build a portfolio site of my own.

Hi Danielle! Yeah I'm contemplating a portfolio site.. The trouble is, I don't have a lot of completed jobs to display and thought it might not look great with so few... I'm putting it off until I have at least four/five fantastic looking pieces of work :-)

Plus I cheat massively and use HTML templates and bootstrap to make more time for back-end code so what they see won't have been created by my fingers. Maybe I shouldn't feel too bad.. I think as a developer you would be pulling in front end design and mixing with your back end code?

... #makingexcuses

I'm in the same boat the best thing is to just build things i'm working on a baking site thats based of smells like bakin just so that i will refresh my memory, i'll ask a family member to give me an idea of a site they would want and build it. It's best to build sites using either a framework or not because it shows you understand what it is you need to do to solve a problem. Just make sure whatever you build is quality and get feedback. Building a site with your portfolio is key and all the pros you see have over 3-10 years experience we're just on the first step and need to showcase what we can do. Good luck bro hope you go far if you wanna talk more follow me on twitter @_TUNDS