Completing a Codecademy course is no small feat. After learning, internalizing, and practicing complex technical concepts on nights, weekends, and the little moments in between, you owe it to yourself to show the world what skills you’ve picked up, and to reap the rewards.
To bring new career opportunities to your doorstep, you have to first communicate your new skills. Doing so in a comprehensive, honest way that will effectively clue potential employers into what they can expect from you is no easy task. That’s why we asked the experts at AngelList and Paysa to help us explain why and how you should communicate your technical skills on your resume and online career profiles.
The power of adding code to your resume
“Our industry values technical skills for all roles, not just engineering. Candidates applying to nontechnical roles who highlight technical coursework are 50% more likely to get matched according to AngelList data.”
So says Kapil Kale, Software Engineer and Venture Hacker at AngelList. If you’re unfamiliar, AngelList is a startup jobs marketplace, for both technical and non-technical roles. They’ve introduced over 3 million candidates to companies, so they not only understand why it’s important to have technical skills, but why it’s equally important to communicate that you have those skills.
Kapil’s statement lines up with much of the research we’ve done at Codecademy. In our 2017 Retrospective, nearly 30% of users said learning to code helped them make more money. Furthermore, 65% of respondents who affect hiring decisions said they were more likely to hire someone into a role similar to or below theirs if the candidate had coding skills.
These career upgrades don’t just happen on their own. Between doing the work to learn technical skills and landing a raise or promotion, you’ve got to market yourself on your resume and, ever more importantly, online.
Gone are the days of carrying a stack of paper resumes to a career fair, or lugging a bound portfolio around town, and explaining each item contained within line by line. We live online, and the digital records of our skillsets on AngelList and LinkedIn are just as important to career advancement as your paper resume—if not moreso.
Mastering these platforms takes more than just racking up connections and listing everywhere you’ve worked since high school—it means maintaining accurate, up to date descriptions of the skills you’re amassing along the way.
Keeping these profiles updated can feel like work, especially when you’re not actively searching for a job. But more than ever, recruiters are the ones actively looking for candidates. According to Kapil, companies “reach out to passive candidates all the time, so keep your profile up to date in case the right opportunity knocks.” You never know who could be accessing these records and when they might be doing it.
This is also a great way to remind yourself of the courses and projects you’ve completed. Think of it as a running list of accomplishments to continually replace with bigger and better accomplishments—even online, quality still trumps quantity.
How to list your technical skills
On a traditional resume, the “Skills & Interests” section is a place to declare which skills, tech or otherwise, you’re bringing to the table. When it comes time to update this section your AngelList or LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to keep the platforms’ differences in mind.
For example, members of your Pro Intensive cohort can endorse you for the skills covered in that Intensive, and you can do the same for them. With validation like that comes peace of mind for potential employers.
In addition to a similar “Skills” section, AngelList profiles also feature an even more free-form section that allows for more thorough showcasing of skills and projects.
“Companies love these, so use them to showcase your accomplishments and ambitions. Candidates who fill out free-form sections like ‘Greatest Achievement’ get more matches than those who don't.”
The difference between basic & intermediate skills
Brandon Johnson, Director of Talent Acquisition at Codecademy, “for technical candidates I like when they put their skills in order of advanced, intermediate and novice. For non-tech folks, I tell them to only put things on their resume they're comfortable demonstrating during an interview. Otherwise, it's over-embellishing.”
Kapil adds, “Most of the time, I'd suggest letting coursework speak for skills because recruiters can interpret levels very differently." He then added a helpful breakdown of how he sees the levels:
You can read code written in the language and understand what it does. You've written programs in the language and can talk about it, though you may not be able to code.
You've written significant programs in the language, but you aren't a pro. Interviewers would expect you to be able to write some code in an interview, or potentially explain the code you've written before. I'd be cautious with this level, as it can mean different things to different people.
You've almost certainly had a full-time professional role coding in this language. Expect to be tested on the nuances of the language and solve coding problems in this language in an interview.”
In short, err on the side of modesty—no matter which descriptors you use, if any, you have to be prepared to communicate your technical skills in an interview and deploy them on the job. The biggest mistake you can make is exaggerating and then having to complete tasks you’re ill-equipped for.
Describing your skills in an interview
Regardless of which adjectives you choose to describe your technical skills, you should be prepared to speak intelligently about them in person.
Without a record of the coursework you’ve completed, it’s surprisingly easy to forget what you’ve learned and how you’ve used the skill since. Keeping a running list will help crystallize what you’ve learned, and it can serve as a useful point of reference ahead of an interview.
When you’ve completed a course with Codecademy, or when you come to feel comfortable with a skill mid-course—say, after completing the Matplotlib unit in Intro to Data Analysis–you should keep a record of it somewhere, and do your best to describe your proficiency as it develops. Even if you’re not adding it to your resume and AngelList profile immediately, this list will pay off when it comes time to reflect on your coding journey in an interview.
Try to include specific projects that required you to use that skill, be they Capstone Projects from Codecademy, code-related projects at work, independent projects you’ve built for fun, or anything else.
Paysa is a platform that provides employees and employees-to-be with salary, job and career insights. The company offers tools that compare the information on a user’s resume with the salary, promotions, and job opportunities available to others in their field and location.
They’ve developed a feature called Career Signature, which provides a holistic view of your career as “a combination of department, occupation, and role elements that describe the work you’ve done based in your career history and skills.” This tool provides a way to compare your projected salary with and without certain technical skills listed on your resume, so you can see the dollars and cents impact of a given skillset.
Chris Bolte, the CEO of Paysa, says, "Having the right skills plays a critical role in today's tech economy with regard to hiring and value. While mastering the technical skills alone is sufficient, for stellar career growth it is best to have both business and technical skills to lead as a senior manager."
Paysa is an extremely useful way to gain perspective on how recruiters and applicant screening software interpret your combination of tech skills and work experience, and to chart your own career prospects over time.
Codecademy Pro is the best way to keep accumulating resume-ready skills. Every project is an opportunity to build something that you can list on your AngelList profile and discuss in interviews, and quizzes will help you stay sharp.
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