How to Apply for a Job (and maybe win it)

So you’re applying for your first job, or you’ve been around the block and are looking to join a new, exciting team. Congratulations on this new chapter in your professional life!

Applying for a job is a little bit like selling a car. Make sure what you’re selling is presentable, that the paperwork is in order, and that your advertising brings potential buyers through the door. I’ve been through the interviewing process (on both sides) for UX/UI designers, Ruby on Rails, and as of late, Angular developers and have quickly picked up on what works (and what doesn’t). Below are a few helpful tips as you navigate the job application journey…

Cover Letter

Don’t skip this one. Call me old fashioned, but the cover letter is the first impression you will make. It doesn’t have to be long or very detailed. Include something you saw or heard about the company to which you are applying. Quick example- “I have seen your open source contribution on GitHub and I would love to work for a place that supports open source.” I think of the cover letter as stepping into your in-laws’ house for the first time. Would you walk in, and without saying a word, sit down on the couch? Probably not. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t send cover letters. Don’t be one of them.

Your Work

There is a saying, “You are as good as your last project”. Make sure your latest and best work is easily seen. Provide working URLs, or links to GitHub repos, and a little bit of information about your role. If you don’t have active apps or websites to check out, provide screenshots or code examples instead. If you are fresh out of school or your current job did not lead to a portfolio, design or build something on your own that you can show. Applying for a job without work examples immediately puts you at a disadvantage, no matter how good your resume is. Invest some time into presenting your latest work. This is your opportunity to show your skill and passion. It will pay off for many years to come.


Simple is smart. Keep your resume in a simple and easy-to-read layout. Most likely, your resume will be read on a screen and not on paper. Keep that in mind when you select fonts and font sizes. Don’t go overboard and design a resume that looks like a brochure for a Disney cruise. Have your resume available in Word and PDF format. PDF will look nicer because you can use custom fonts. Some large businesses want you to submit an editable word doc, not a PDF. At Intridea, we are happy to accept your nicely formatted PDF resume. Thank you 🙂

  • Include your full contact info and include your LinkedIn URL if you have an account.
  • Give your resume a file name that is useful, for example: FullName-Resume.pdf
  • Attach a page with a list of your latest work.

Don’t create a long list of every programming language and server technology under the sun. It is not impressive. Instead, it shows a lack of focus and raises the question, “What is she/he really good at?” Good example: If you are applying for a Ruby on Rails developer position, make sure your Ruby on Rails experience is listed first and highlighted. If you have experience in other programming languages and frameworks, list them in a separate paragraph.

Meetings & Communications

Most likely, your first meeting will happen over the phone. Make sure you are in a quiet place and your voice is coming through loud and clear. Calling from Starbucks while you are waiting for your Grande Mocha won’t be impressive. In the days of Skype and GoToMeeting, don’t be afraid to hop on a web meeting with video. When you receive emails, reply promptly with simple language. Don’t reply with novels. When you are invited for a face to face meeting, dress appropriately. Better to be overdressed then under dressed.


Now to the big question. What to say when your new employer is asking you about your future salary? Don’t stay quiet. If you do, mostly likely the employer will offer a salary that is under market value. Do your homework. Research the position you are after and find out what a fair salary is based on your location and experience. With a little bit of intel, you will feel more confident asking for your future salary and it shows your new employer you know your industry.

Good luck and if you are looking for a new position as Angular, Ruby on Rails developer, or UX/UI designer apply here: