How to bring the Wowza factor into your coding job search

The following is written by By Laura Thorne, Careers In Code’s Career Coach.

Tech jobs are in high demand and some companies struggle to find enough qualified talent. However, that doesn’t mean anyone can walk in the door and get hired. In fact, large, well-known, and in-demand companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce receive hundreds of applications and are highly competitive. Locally, wherever you live, there will be several companies with great reputations and higher than average salaries that are also hard to get into.

Conversely, some smaller or lesser-known companies may receive fewer applications but have a more difficult time recognizing qualified candidates. In either case, let’s make the job easier for them by making you the obvious choice! How do you do that? Bring the Wowza!

“Wowza” refers to any part of your job search that helps you stand out from the crowd. Most people do more to get themselves removed from the potential interview list than they do to get chosen. For example, they hand out boring templates business cards instead of handing out stickers that show off their creativity. Or they submit a sloppy cut and paste cover letter instead of doing something like adding a personalized link, making a video, or including recognition of the target company. People remember you when you go above and beyond, and that’s the Wowza factor you want in your job search.

Here are the basic elements of the job search, none of which in themselves are a means to stand out. Each item in the list is an opportunity to get creative and make it unique. Some of these examples come from working with hundreds of people in their job searches and others are directly from the mouths of the tech employers themselves. The employers’ suggestions were surprisingly simple, yet many people don’t bother to do them.

Create Wowza before the interview:

  • Personalized business cards (or an even better option, as described in the example above)
  • Personal custom website
  • Creative portfolio
  • Well-formatted resume (this is one where getting too creative could be a negative)
  • Cover letter (this is about getting creative in how you write, not necessarily the format)
  • Impactful elevator pitch
  • Design a captivating pitch deck
  • Personal brand (read more below)

Create Wowza during the interview process:

  • Show enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity
  • Demonstrate that you have researched the company
  • Be confident in your strengths
  • Be honest about your limitations
  • Have a positive attitude

Create Wowza after the interview:

  • Send thank you notes
  • Network
  • Continue to learn

Least of all, let’s not forget you. You are your first and best opportunity to stand out at all stops along the way. Be sure to spend some time learning about yourself and your strengths. Not sure? Ask friends or past co-workers: What is it that makes you you? What parts of you do they see that you should never lose?

Our 2021 employer survey said that beyond technical skills, and sometimes in lieu of technical skills, they were looking for passionate people who are community minded, who are collaborative team players, and who have leadership potential. That said, building your personal brand and walking the talk will go a long way. That means instead of saying, “I am a community-oriented person,” you are a community volunteer who is involved in XYZ.

For each opportunity listed above, you have the chance to just do the thing or do it your way! For example, you can go into Canva and choose a template for a business card and have your design in 10 minutes. Or you can customize the design to meet your brand values, call attention to your strengths, and grab the attention of the right audience.

In summary, bringing the Wowza takes effort and in the end that’s what employers are looking for; people who bother to take the time and energy to show their value. You could reasonably work on every item in this list. After all, many are required elements of the job search. However, try targeting a few at a time to focus on and then move through the list until you hear those words you long to hear, “You’re hired!”



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