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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Focusrite are hiring!

in case you didn’t know, Focusrite are hiring.  In fact, we’re almost always hiring, and even if we’re not hiring, we’re probably still open to hiring.  I’ve seen a lot of CVs in the past few years, so I thought I’d offer some tips to help you present yourself in the best light.

That might seem a little odd, but I remember what it was like writing my CV (actually, only dimly as it was about ten years ago!), and having spent some time at the other end of the wire I thought it might help to improve the quality of applications we receive.  The last thing I’d want is for us to miss a great candidate.

Before I get started, please excuse me if the tone is patronising – the best applicants teach us things we don’t know, and the interview process is very much two way – but having seen too many terrible CVs, I can’t help but sound off once in a while.

CVs and covering letters

I do not care about your “Career Purpose” – you really shouldn’t have to state that you aim to be the best at what you do, or to make a difference, or that you’re a great communicator – that should shine through!

I really need to see your other jobs, particularly your achievements there.  I’m much less concerned with keywords (languages, technologies and so on) except where specifically required for the role.  I am also interested in some of the non-technical work you’ve done, so leave some of it in unless it’s ancient history.

I do care about your degree or further education, but probably not as much as you think.  In particular, I don’t necessarily mind if you didn’t go to university, or if you did a non technical subject.  I’m interested in your thesis, final project etc. but not as much as…

…your hobby projects.  We love these!  Above all else, this is the single most important thing you can do to get our interest.  I came back from holiday to find an odd looking box of electronics on my desk, and I was thrilled – I thought I had been sent an electronic CV – but it was just some junk from our WEEE waste that someone thought we could make use of on one of our company hackdays.  Please, please send us your electronic / software / mechanical hobby projects, however crazy or half baked.  If you’ve got the passion to create things in your spare time, we’d love to see what you can do in a full time job!

I also care about your early education (GCSE, A-Level results, subject choices etc.).  I will not reject a CV based on bad early grades, but seeing a dramatic change of tack / results / subjects is interesting background information that offers insight into who you are.

I do not care about your bronze swimming badge from 1984 (from a genuine CV, really)!

Good spelling and grammar are absolutely vital – if English isn’t your first language, or if you’re dyslexic, ask a friend to review your work.  We’re not grammar freaks, but attention to detail is an essential skill, as is clear writing.

I like covering letters that show you know who we are and are interested in what we do.

I dislike templates, especially if you leave “please insert content here” in the body (again, from a real CV!)

The phone screen

So, you’ve sent us a well written, spam free CV, a coupon for your iOS app and a covering letter describing your home studio, the gear you use, what you love and what you’d improve.  At this point I will be really excited, so I’ll remind myself to calm down and give you a call to check three basic things:

  1. You want the job we’re actually offering.
  2. You are available for work, now or soon.
  3. You have realistic pay expectations.

You’d be amazed at how many people fail at one or all of these three steps – it’s very depressing when an interesting candidate says “well, I’m going to finish my studies next year and then take a year out travelling… is there a part time position in Marketing available for £50k?” – ummm… no, there isn’t.

The technical interview

Assuming that goes well, we have a shared understanding of the role, so it’s time to start the fun part – the technical interviews.  This is where we get to talk about (and actually do) all the interesting stuff we work on all day long.  You also get to interview us, to make sure you like the way we work, that we’re competent, that we can give you the support and freedom you need to deliver your best work.

We like to start this process over Skype, as it’s so much quicker and easier for both parties.  We’ll do some simple starter questions, some code / design review, some more general discussion about products and processes, and we’ll hopefully go off on some interesting tangents about the innermost details of something you’ve been working on.  If we get on, we’ll ask you to visit us at Focusrite HQ for the final stage, where you’ll do some more detailed interviewing, have lunch in our canteen and meet the rest of the team.

I look forward to seeing you soon!