Clockwork is currently hiring for a variety of positions and we’re really excited about the number and quality of applicants.  We’re reviewing resumes daily and we’re in the throes of the interview process.  In the midst of our hiring we’ve seen a number of people reach out for informational interviews trying to get a sense about what Clockwork looks for when we are hiring.  I thought I might share some of what I’ve found myself saying in those conversations here.  What is it that we look for in good candidates and what sets resumes apart?  Well, I’m going to tell you. Brace yourself.

First of all – what’s with the .doc resume submissions?  Enough already.  PDF your documents.  Word is just a cluster of issues.  Mac to PC.  .docx.  Macros.  Versioning issues.  PDF (or Adobe’s portable document format) ensures that your resume is appropriately formatted, easily readable, and accessible for just about anyone.  It’s just a better choice.  And, if the recipients are using Macs, the document is visible in the body of the email, just like an image. It allows the recipient to preview the content, which is convenient if you’re tasked with sorting through all of those submissions.  If you aren’t sure how to convert a word doc to a PDF check here – http://www.wikihow.com/Convert-a-Microsoft-Word-Document-to-PDF-Format

Note: we’ve heard from some people that some companies insist on Word docs. That’s just crazy! Don’t work for a company that wants Word docs; that should be your first red flag!

Be smart about how you name your files.  I know resume.pdf seems ideal to you.  But, here’s a tip: it seems ideal to everyone.  When sorting through a pile of resumes, it helps if they have file names that differentiate them.  Try using your name when naming the file.  Smith_Resume.pdf is handy.  But Bob_Smith_Resume.pdf is even better.  If you have a common last name, help me help you.

Don’t waste the energy writing an email AND attaching a separate cover letter.  This is 2010: your email is your cover letter.  Time is limited and the candidate pool is deep.  Don’t give me too much to do.  Tell me, in the body of your email, why you want this job and some career or experience highlights. We know one person who writes her cover letter in an email but also puts it in the same PDF as her resume — smart! This ensures that her cover letter always travels with her resume, no matter how it gets forwarded or printed.

Don’t just send a link.  SAY SOMETHING.  A link to your portfolio or your resume just frustrates me because you’ve not given me a reason to want to care.  Why should I visit the link?  I don’t know that I like you yet!  Again, use that email as your cover letter.  Be direct, be brief.  But STAND OUT.  Say something interesting.  Give me a reason to want to know more and, ultimately, want to meet you.  Now, take this advice with a grain of salt.  When I suggest that you stand out, I am looking for you to share an applicable experience or project.  Don’t tell me a joke or attach a dumb picture.  Be relevant.

Make sure you read through our expectations for the application process.  If we ask for your resume as a PDF, Google around to find out how to comply (or, from now on, just refer to the link above).  If we ask you to highlight certain information in your application, give us what we need.  To ignore those requests suggests you either don’t care, or you didn’t read through the requirements.  It just sends a bad message.

Do you have an online life?
  Are you active and compelling on Twitter?  Are you blogging like a maniac and changing the world, one post at a time?  Are your Facebook friends a captive audience with whom you share content regularly?  Make sure I know it.  I want to know that you get social media (even if you’re applying for a job that will never touch it) and you can write well and engage your community.  This makes you more valuable to the company and the brand.

Are you an adventurer?  An explorer? A perpetual student?  Find a way to tell me.  If you’re applying for a project manager position, but you’re a closet coder, I need to know.  If you’re a programmer and secretly a memoirist as well — share your secret.  Your hidden talents might just be the things that set you apart from the competition, and position you with the broadest skillset, and therefore the most valuable.

I’m often asked what sorts of classwork students should pursue and what talents one should highlight in a cover letter.  There are so many ways to answer those questions.  Obviously we’re a digital shop — know the web.  Take every opportunity to learn how to design and produce for this medium.  Know CSS.  Know web standards. Understand the importance of usability.   Figure out where your interests lie and focus.  Is it front end development?  Great – Javascript and Actionscript combined with a solid design sense make you invaluable.  Programmers: don’t show us what you’re working on.  Show us what you’ve FINISHED.  The most valuable programmers are the ones who finish projects and produce results.  Show us those results.  If you’re asked in for an interview, bring documents you’ve authored. They can be a great way to talk through your accomplishments and your strengths.

And what skills matter, but rarely show up in the job postings that geeks seek?  Public speaking is huge.  Storytelling skills.  Clients need us to craft stories for them to help them understand how the different pieces of  a solution come together.  I often recommend improv classes.  Learning how to read a room and react quickly to the change in energy and response is critical.  We are always in need of people who are strong with client facing interaction.  Can you write, and speak well?  Are you strategic in how you think about the work?  Can you facilitate meetings and help guide clients and project teams to collaborative solution development?  Are you passionate about helping people embrace the work?  Do you have a natural talent for mentoring or teaching or managing?  Find ways to communicate these skills in your materials.  And if you’re not there yet – consider taking a public speaking class or joining Toastmasters.

More than anything, love what you do.  If you have a genuine interest and appreciation for interactive technology it will be obvious.  Don’t censor your passion.  It can be the single most appealing thing you bring to your interview.  Passion is contagious.  Sometimes getting project teams and clients excited about the enormous possibility is all you need to sell an idea.  Selling ideas makes them possible and builds our business.  Doing that alongside people we like and respect makes work more than just…work.  If there’s one thing that people have noticed about what we’ve been doing at Clockwork over the past eight years, it’s that what we do here isn’t just our job. It’s who we are. We’re looking for people that love this stuff as much as we do. So, go ahead: show us what you’ve got!