5 questions to ask yourself before considering your next freelance move

September 26, 2023

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One of the first lessons that every junior recruiter learns is how to separate someone who is genuinely available for a new role, and someone who is just curious to hear what’s out there. This is particularly relevant in the freelance world🌎

However, with the introduction of tech tests and multi-stage interviews, is it really worth exploring until you’re ready?

Here are some of the common filters we use to figure out whether it’s actually time for you to move on👇

My contract finishes at the end of next month.”📆

  • Okay, but would you accept an extension if you were offered one?
  • If the answer is yes, your first port of call should be to speak to your recruiter or your line manager about an extension.

“I have just started a new role and it isn’t living up to my expectations.”🥱

  • Have you discussed this with your manager yet? We often find that just delivering this feedback will lead to positive action.

“I’d like some more money.”🤑

  • Start with WHY? Is that extra €5/hour worth rolling the dice and leaving a role you enjoy? Too often I hear candidates say “recruiters are calling me up and offering €€€”. Is that just to de-stabilise you, or is it a concrete job offer?

“When I joined, the role was remote, but now they are talking about going back to the office.”📍

  • This has been very common in the last 12-months, but I haven’t seen many examples of it being firmly enforced. Before taking drastic measures, try to get some clear timescales with your line manager.

“I’m looking to find something more interesting.”💡

  • Are you clear on what more interesting looks like? Take some time to draw up some criteria about what interesting actually means.  Once you’ve done this, you can communicate it to recruiters that you trust and avoid jumping into another mundane role.

Hope this helps🤝

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Written: September 26, 2023

Top tips for landing your first freelance gig!

September 26, 2023

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Becoming a Freelancer for the first time can be daunting and there are plenty of steps to ensure you have a smooth and stress-free transition. Below, I have listed some tips that I have picked up over the last few years!

📄 Handing in your notice – Possibly the most daunting aspect of going Freelance for the first time. When should you do this? Should you wait until you have a Freelance role secured? Should you just hand it in / pre-agree a reduced notice with your employer before you have found anything? This is down to personal preference, but in my experience, it favours you to take the leap and hand it in! Availability is a focus when a freelance role arises, and it often comes down to who can start first. Things will get very busy towards the end of the month, and you might need to make snap a decision in the last week!

💵 Rate – It’s very important to do research into what rate to enter the market at. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to go in at an unattainable rate. Speaking to a trusted manager, a Freelancer on your level or a specialist recruiter could be a good place to start.

📝 Contracts – Coming from a permanent role, a soft landing is often (not always) what people prefer. Entering straight into a secure longer-term role is ideal but be open to starting off in a short-term contract. That initial 3 months could extend for years!

✈ Travel – Especially now people want remote more than ever. Maybe check out transport routes and consider a few locations you would consider traveling to (if required) to give yourself that competitive edge.

🖼 Your personal brand – It is essential to maintain your personal brand to help market yourself to clients, and it’s an area people often neglect. Your CV and LinkedIn profile are usually a client’s first impressions of you. Make sure you keep these up to date with as much detail as possible with a clear layout. Secondly, self-develop. Ensure to keep up to date with the tech you want to use and keep ahead of the market trends. Thirdly, Get references. I appreciate candidates often don’t want to share the information of previous managers, but some candidates keep a list of references to share, and clients often really appreciate this!

Great! You have landed your first freelance role! Once you have started there are still a few things you need to consider to ensure all goes smoothly:

🔊 Communicate – Make sure to be clear with your manager and the team about your progress or any problems.
❓ Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Nothing worse for a client than a Freelancer who takes a day to figure something out because they didn’t ask for help.
🕔 If you are unwell or running late, phone ahead! Your client will appreciate the professional courtesy (Surprisingly, people don’t always do this).

These are just some of the points I have picked up over the last few years! I am sure there is plenty more advice to give so make sure to do your own research and if you know anyone who has made the leap themself, ask what hints and tips they picked up along the way.

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Written: September 26, 2023

How important is believing in your product?

September 26, 2023

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​A common theme when chatting to Developers is that they’re searching for a company where they can truly get behind a product.

This can mean agreeing with its moral mission or even just taking pride in its reach and influence on users.

A sense of purpose is many people’s source of motivation, and Developers are no different. It’s also evident when a team’s motivation is driving the development forward.

Yes, more money and the chance to work on a technically challenging product are also important factors to consider, but this can feel empty without the knowledge that your work is directly impacting users lives.

How does belief in a company’s product affect your motivation, and is it a deciding factor when you search for a new challenge?

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Written: September 26, 2023

What does a GOOD benefits package look like to you?

September 26, 2023

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WHAT DOES A ‘GOOD’ BENEFITS PACKAGE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

Recently I put together a Poll posing a question;

What is the MOST important thing developers look for when considering new opportunities?

I asked you answered.

There was an apparent outcome telling me what’s most important to developers.

36% of you said it’s being able to attain the BEST Salary & Benefits package possible.

So for a scale-up trying to stand out from the crowd, it’s critical to offer a package that makes a developer feel valued!

I guess Salary speaks for itself… BUT I appreciate not all companies have the same budgets, so other scale-ups need to get inventive.

What else can be offered as an alternative to salary, that still makes a package attractive to the talent companies seek?

I’ve seen a lot of different approaches including;

– Education budgets
– Company holidays
– Travel / Car allowances
– Home Office Budgets

These really do help, but I feel they’re not always unique and attractive enough to make an impact.

I want to hear from my community once more though; What OTHER benefits can companies offer that turn the heads of top talent?

Which benefits are the most attractive to you? Why are most important?

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Written: September 26, 2023

Attention Hiring Managers – Unicorn Developers can be hard to find!

September 26, 2023

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ATTENTION HIRING MANAGERS – ‘Unicorn’ Developers can be very hard to find!

When companies are scaling, finding the right people is critical to success.

I speak to a lot of hiring managers who are ONLY looking for developers who tick every box on their job spec…

This often leads to frustration & increased time-to-hire, as finding perfect candidates or ‘Unicorns’ can be a huge challenge in such a competitive market!

So, how do I suggest managers tackle this?

– First, align internally with ALL stakeholders to establish what is needed & when it’s needed by.

– Next, draw up a list of true KNOCKOUT criteria that candidates MUST have in order to function effectively in the role. ☑

– Then, establish and prioritise the ‘BONUS POINTS’ that would give them a head start in the role. 🚀

Anything else that they can learn or pick up easily? You guessed it, probably not a knockout criteria.

This should bring the following to your hiring process:

– Clear, calculated job requirements to identify RELEVANT candidates & establish which are the best match
– Opportunity to teach bonus skills to candidates your company’s way

I guess the point I’m trying to make is;

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a Unicorn, so sometimes it’s easier & better to mould one!

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Written: September 26, 2023

How much attention do you give to your Github?

September 26, 2023

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Developers – How much attention do you give to your Github?

I speak to more & more companies who use Github as a way to judge a candidate’s relevance & skills, sometimes even before an initial interview.

This means you could be discounted before you even get a chance to speak to a future employer!

An untidy github can lead to hiring managers asking certain questions;

‘Would they code in this way if they worked for my company?’

So before starting a job search, I recommend making some amendments here:

– Take a look at your recent github projects; How clear is the code & formatting? Have a tidy up here.

– Add ReadMe files to projects to give more context; were you experimenting with a new technology? What else would you have added/changed if you had more time?️
– Are things looking a little quiet in terms of recent repo’s? Add any projects you’ve left off or even better, create new ones with the skills you aim to use in your next job!

Remember, first impressions are super important!

So, I suggest treating your github just like your CV – keep it up to date and presentable to give yourself the best chance at landing your next role!

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Written: September 26, 2023

Amsterdam; The Tech EcoSystem that keeps growing & growing

September 26, 2023

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​As a startup ecosystem, the Netherlands is growing rapidly and is a great place for startups from every sector imaginable. Startups created over 109,000 jobs for people in the Netherlands and 25,000 of those were created in the last three years. With Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley – the vibrant and energetic Dutch capital Amsterdam – spearheading this growth, the figures from the technology sector become more and more impressive.

It’s all about the Tech…

According to a new report from Dealroom, Amsterdam’s tech companies account for 14% of local jobs, equal to roughly 77,000 positions. Between December 2016 and December 2019, home-grown tech outfits continuously added more jobs than any other sector. Dutch-founded tech companies are responsible for 43,000 jobs while international companies, including Tesla and Netflix, are linked to 34,000 positions.

Whilst Amsterdam boasts headline names and multiple tech unicorns including Adyen & Takeaway.com (let’s not forget to now add Mollie & MessageBird to the growing list), I found it interesting to discover that 57% of new startup jobs in the past 3 years were created by companies less than 5 years old. There are over 2,700 startups in Amsterdam — that’s 1.1 per 1,000 inhabitants. I think it’s fair to say that with the diverse international culture, true sense of community & wealth of passionate technologists and entrepreneurs, this figure will almost certainly keep climbing.

Amsterdam is now 3rd fastest-growing European City in the global tech EcoSystem

Behind London and Stockholm, Amsterdam holds off Paris and Berlin to take bronze in Europe as it reaches a value of a whopping €73 Billion. Not only this, but it has now reached an overall rank of 12th in the global listings of startup ecosystems. When you then add in to the mix the growing number of global tech giants that are choosing Amsterdam to launch their new base of operations, I can only help but feel this valuation can only go up, and the growth shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever.

Amsterdam has some tricks up it’s sleeve to keep attracting talented techies, too. The 30% ruling for Ex-pats (a tax reduction to attract highly skilled professionals from abroad) means developers are financially better off just by living and working in the Netherlands. Couple this with a multi-cultural English speaking environment and a very strong attitude toward work-life balance, and you get an ideal mix to draw thousands of new faces to the canals of the Dutch capital every single year.

The only way is up.

To conclude, our beloved Amsterdam is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to technology & growth across the entire spectrum. The few stats I’ve quoted above barely scratch the surface in demonstrating how frighteningly fast Amsterdam & the Dutch tech ecosystem continue to grow. A city of such great diversity, high standards set by fierce competition, and a constant stream of impressive innovations make a perfect storm for business & tech people to thrive. The ambition has no limits & this will keep things exciting for years to come!

TL;DR – Amsterdam is a total monster in both the European, and global tech economy. And well, that’s absolutely great.

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Written: September 26, 2023

Stuck on what research to do as prep for an interview?

September 26, 2023

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​It’s a very common piece of advice to give to candidates for them to ‘do their research’ before an interview in order to prepare, but sometimes this can be a little vague and candidates don’t know where to start when preparing for an initial interview with a new company. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of the research you should do beforehand to prepare for & give yourself the best chance when introducing yourself to a potential new employer:

Researching the company itself

The best place to start is with a company’s website – from here you can gain a good understanding of what the company does, how they operate & the company’s culture. You can use it as a way to understand the different sectors & locations they operate in, the size of the company and more. Once you’ve checked out the main website of the company, check for a careers page to find out more about different benefits the company offer & investigate what they feel sets them apart from their competitors.

After diving into the direct sources of information about the company, it’s time to think a little further outside of the box. Using tools such as Glassdoor to check employee reviews, Googling them to find out news & articles of the company, will all formulate an extensive amount of knowledge in order to answer questions around what a company does & what you know about them.

Also, it’s a great way to generate a list of questions around parts of the company you wish to know more about, and ultimately shows you’ve gone above & beyond to prepare and show your interest in your potential new employer.

Understand the job role and responsibilities

Ensure you read the job specification carefully, to avoid any surprises in an interview. Identify in the experience section where you feel you’re strongest & where you feel you may be able to improve. Knowing these points allows you to display your strengths when questioned about your previous experience, whilst allowing you to be honest when asked about things you feel less confident with – interviewers always appreciate this honesty, as long as you show you’re willing to apply yourself and learn new things!

You want to be leaving the interview with as much clarity as possible about what working for a new company looks like, so here’s a perfect chance to ask those questions and build a true opinion on how this position will affect your career.

Know your interviewers

Ultimately a huge part of any interview process is your interviewers judging how well you will fit with your potential new colleagues & team-mates. No connection in an interview? Often this will be the quickest way to an unsuccessful outcome. You can have all of the knowledge and experience required for a role, but if the people you speak to can’t get along with you or connect with you, you won’t get very far.

The best way to avoid this is to research the people you’re meeting. Here, Linkedin is your friend. Investigating a hiring manager’s previous career path, mutual connections, interests & activity allows you to get an indication of the kind of individual they are. It may be that you both have a contact in common, both work with similar technologies or you see something on their profile that you’re also interested in – all of these things are hidden gems in an interview to build a relationship & get bonus points with an interviewer. Remember, ‘culture fit’ is something tested in one way or another in almost every interview, so showing you’re a match will go a long way in a company’s decision-making process.

Understand the logistics

This one seems a little obvious, but definitely worth a mention. Know the location for the interview, be clear of your route & ensure you leave plenty of time to get to your destination without risk of being late! Always check the address for a company’s office & understand what the journey entails, as this could be a route you follow many times in the future if you receive an offer and join the company!

Establish why you’re interested & what you like

Last but definitely not least, it’s important to have a good idea in your head WHY you’re interested in the company you’re interviewing with. Maybe it’s the technologies they work with? Maybe it’s the sector they operate in? Maybe it’s the growth opportunities & culture of the company? There’s many different reasons why a company might interest you, but it’s super important to identify these so you can really express your interest, passion & curiosity in the interview itself.

Above all, following these tips & ensuring you prepare thoroughly for any interview will give you the best chance, whilst also allowing you to gain as much knowledge about a potential new employer as possible and make informed decisions on companies you speak with.

In summary; Ask intelligent questions & give educated answers for the best chance moving forward!

Good luck 🙂

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Written: September 26, 2023

Getting it right as a first-time freelancer

September 26, 2023

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Taking the leap and starting your freelance career is like setting up any other business, it’s a time filled with excitement, but it can be daunting. You’ve made your decision for all of the right reasons; you want some more autonomy, you’re excited about meeting new people, working on different products and you’re loving the idea of learning new technologies. That’s without even mentioning the increase in pay.

Hopefully in this article you can pick up some useful points I’ve taken from client feedback and the feedback of more experienced freelancers.

Preparing to freelance

  • Logistics – freelancing usually requires an extra degree of geographical flexibility. It helps to find how far you can feasibly travel on a daily basis. 60km may sound achievable in theory, but you don’t want to have to let your very first client down because you misjudged the traffic on that route. Try to figure out which main towns and cities you can easily reach.
  • Rate – this is often the most under-researched aspectwith new freelancers. I often have conversations where the only research has been to ask a far more experienced freelancer at their current company what they are making. My advice would be to seek the advice of people you trust. This might be a specialist recruiter; someone you respect in a managerial position or maybe seek out a freelancer of a similar experience level through LinkedIn.
  • Availability – leaving a secure job and jumping into the unknown is a tough thing to do, but the most successful first-time freelancers I’ve worked with have always either handed in their notice already or negotiated a reduced notice with their current company. Availability comes up in every single interview and in my experience when a client has multiple options, they will lean towards the person who is available sooner.
  • Skill set – this is for those of you who plan on going freelance eventually but aren’t ready yet. Don’t get stuck working with outdated technologies and try to avoid becoming a “generalist”. Freelancer roles are often created when an expert is needed. It’s rare that a company will hire a freelancer to do general tasks. They are usually brought on for their in-depth knowledge of a particular language or framework.
  • Keep an open mind – in an ideal world your first freelance role would be a 12-month contract with your dream company. In reality it might be only for 2-months, but that’s okay. That 2-month contract could be extended and last for 3 years. Alternatively, something you learn in those 2-months might help to secure you the dream job we were just talking about next time around.

Building your personal brand

  • References – when you’re up and running as a freelancer try to get a written reference from every client you’ve worked at. It might sound obvious, and you might not want to share them with every recruiter you speak to. However, surprisingly few people actually keep a list of references and it’s a simple way to stand out from the crowd.
  • LinkedIn – keeping your LinkedIn up to date, populated in detail and maintaining a good network is excellent marketing for your business. Clients will often look up your profile ahead of an interview, a mutual connection can be a great conversation starter or even offer up a recommendation.
  • Take pride in your CV – as a freelancer your CV is a window to your business and the portfolio of your work so far. Would you brush past typos in your code, or leave formatting errors on your company website?
  • Self-develop – study the trends in the market and make sure you get ahead of them. Take up certifications and go to seminars on the next big technological advancement. The best developers I’ve worked with are active within their commmunity. Attending conferences, meet ups and completing courses will keep your CV up-to-date and improve your network.

The best characteristics of a freelancer

  1. Communication – this is the most under-rated tool available to any freelancer. If I was going to pinpoint the number 1 reason that freelancers don’t work out, it’s definitely not technical ability.
    – Clear and regular communication around the progress of your work. Be honest, give detailed reports and manage expectations.
    – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is nothing more frustrating for a client than having someone take a day to figure something out which could have been resolved with a simple question (especially if that day costs them €700).
    – Phone ahead – if you’re unwell or your train is running late, 99% of clients don’t mind as long as you call ahead to let them know. It might feel like this is unnecessary when you’re self-employed but as a professional courtesy, it should be standard practice.
  2. Willingness to learn and take responsibility – while a client will hire you for your specialist knowledge, they might also need to utilize your experience on different parts of the project. Try to view this as a positive thing. A common theme in positive references I receive point to freelancers using their initiative to solve a problem outside of their field of expertise.
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Written: September 26, 2023

Some Things To Consider When Choosing A Recruiter

September 26, 2023

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​Finding a new role can be stressful, whether it’s born out of necessity or simply searching for that new challenge! Fortunately, an industry exists that should help this process go a little smoother. But, there are so many recruiters out there all fighting for your CV, who should represent you?

1. How did they approach you?

The first (and perhaps most obvious) to consider is the method of approach. One thing that can frustrate people is to be bombarded with messages, emails, and calls without being given a reason to be interested or want to chat!

Look out for signs that this recruiter has actually identified you as a relevant candidate.

This could be as simple as them immediately sharing information on a relevant role or detailing why their services are going to be of particular use to you. Whilst receiving a call from an unknown number can sometimes be inconvenient, you should be able to tell in the first 10 seconds whether this recruiter is worth your time.

The age of LinkedIn and the option to tick ‘Open to New Opportunities’ offers recruiters another method of reaching out, but this can sometimes feel a little impersonal.

It’s noticeable when a recruiter has taken the time to really study your profile and add that personal touch in a message or connection request.

2. Have they listened?

Often you will first have a phone call so that the recruiter can understand your situation and experience – this will dictate much of your future relationship.

Are they asking relevant questions to determine what you’re actually looking for?

Your career aspirations and your motivations are hugely important topics to cover if you’re going to find the right job (and it’s evident when a recruiter either hasn’t asked or doesn’t want to know!).

There’s nothing more frustrating than the feeling you’ve not been listened to, and recruiters do sometimes have a reputation for neglecting to understand what’s important to a potential candidate; to simply ‘connect the dots’ and deliver technically relevant candidates to their clients.

But that’s not to say that the technical side isn’t important too.

If they’re not asking appropriate technical questions about your experience and previous roles, then it’s unlikely they’ll be able to provide you with a suitable vacancy (and they certainly might not be the best person to choose to convince companies that you’re a good fit!).

3. Transparency

A successful relationship with a recruiter should be based on honesty from both sides.

A good sign you’ve picked the right one is that they pay attention to your other processes and can justify why they’re doing so.

Often this can seem unimportant, but it’s a key part of a recruiter’s job to really know their candidate’s situation and communicate this to their clients in order to manage everything properly. For example, with this information, they have the ability to introduce urgency to schedule interviews quicker or demonstrate to clients that you’re as good as your CV suggests.

This transparency works both ways though. It’s crucial that you’re honest about your feelings towards roles and companies in order for the recruiter to be able to give you the best chance of securing the one you want.

A good recruiter will be consistently asking you the difficult questions – to best understand your thoughts and (sometimes ever-changing) opinions throughout the process.

4. Advice

The last thing to consider is the advice given by a recruiter.

It’s imperative that you trust your recruiter and the transparency discussed previously should give you the confidence to do so.

Whilst it’s evident that a recruiter will often have their own desired outcome of processes with a candidate, this doesn’t mean they can’t offer useful advice. At the end of the day, it’s in a recruiter’s best interest to find you a place you love and want to stay at.

Admittedly, it’s certainly worth sometimes being wary of advice if it seems pushy or rash, but a recruiter will often have more experience than you regarding interview processes and should have a great understanding of the clients they represent.

You’ve picked the right recruiter when you feel confident they’re advising you to make the decision best for you.

They can often give a different perspective and good foresight regarding potential issues or obstacles throughout the job-search.

Hopefully, this has given you a few things to take into consideration when deciding on your next recruiter. What else do you think is important in a relationship with a recruiter? I’d be really interested to hear people’s thoughts or past experiences, please comment anything relevant down below!

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Written: September 26, 2023

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