by Audrea Cook
Software Engineer, dutchie
Hello, friends! Long time, no see! It’s been a minute since we last spoke, so let me catch you up. If you want the tl;dr version, visit my Polywork profile.
I wrapped up my time at Raise.dev at the end of June. I loved the work I was doing there, but John Britton, my best boss to date, encouraged me to find a new position that would challenge me in ways a small startup just doesn’t have the capacity for.
I didn’t quite feel like I was ready, but I trusted my mentor. Now that I’m a month into my new gig as a software engineer at dutchie, I am so glad I did. John has yet to steer me wrong!
Almost immediately after beginning my job search, I remembered just how much it sucks. From cold-contacting strangers on LinkedIn to wracking my brain trying to remember the most important projects I accomplished at Raise.dev, it was all super stressful, and none of it felt natural.
Thinking over my time at Raise.dev, I can vaguely remember a few standout projects. I built Raise.dev/LIVE as my first solo PR, created (probably over-complicated) progress boards for our user dashboard, helped eliminate bot abuse of our registration form, and I worked to streamline and speed up our test suite.
What I don’t remember, however, are the highs and lows of each project, the specific challenges I overcame to merge those pull requests, or the countless other cool projects I worked on. I really only remember enough to flesh out my resume.
We all know a plain resume, or even a polished LinkedIn profile, can only offer the tiniest glimpse of what an individual is actually like. While that snapshot may be good enough for a recruiter’s cursory glance, wouldn’t it be nice to offer your next interviewer a more detailed and engaging view of who you really are?
Enter Polywork, a new social networking platform designed to highlight the best pieces of its users. Each user has their own profile, which essentially boils down to a kick-ass timeline of their accomplishments (and sometimes failures), both personal and professional. While you can build out your profile just like you would on LinkedIn or a traditional paper resume, I encourage you to get a little creative and have some fun with it.
Instead of adding to the millions of other blog posts out there on how to network and land your next job, today I thought I would talk about how I plan to use Polywork to toot my own horn a bit, celebrate my wins, and make my next job search (hopefully a long time from now) suck a little less.
Pretend you and I just met and were getting to know one another in real life. What would you share? Would our entire conversation revolve around work, or would we talk about our hobbies, families, and all the other areas of our lives that make us unique? Sure, work might come up, but would that be our sole focus? I kinda hope not.
Yes, I’m a software engineer. Yes, I do full-stack work and prefer mucking around in a Ruby on Rails backend. So what? Does that tell you who I really am? I don’t think so. My work resume tells you (all on one page, mind you) that I’m new-ish to the tech industry, I know how to use job-appropriate keywords, and I can organize some bullet points in a clean (if rather boring) way. Oh, joy of joys.
I like to think of my Polywork profile as “My Life’s Resume.” On it, I post the things I would love to share with a new friend or acquaintance. Scrolling through my last few months of Highlights (what Polywork calls posts), I have a few work-related wins, sure, but I also have a picture of me at the beach with my beautiful sister and her two children. You’ll also see a few of the crafts I’ve finished, interesting books I’ve read, and whatever else I show off! You’ll get a better sense of who I actually am, not just what I do.
Remember those resume-friendly keywords? On Polywork, those translate to your badges. Of course I have “Software Engineer” and “Full Stack Developer,” but I also have the much more important badges like “Crocheter,” “Dog Mum,” “Stardew Farmer,” and “Neopets Alumnus.” A user can pick as many badges as they’d like, making it easier to find like-minded people. Don’t see the perfect badge for you? Create your own badge, and share it with the Multiverse! You’ll find your people; trust me.
Yeah, but… what about the job stuff?
Apologies for that tangent; I just really like the ability to share all the awesome parts of myself on Polywork! But I promised to tell you how I intend to use Polywork to make my next job search more bearable, so here are my five top tips:
1. Your timeline is a living document.
Don’t wait until your next job search to update your profile. When something interesting happens in your life (professional or otherwise), add it to your timeline while it is fresh in your mind! You can always edit the Highlight later if you feel you over shared or left something out.
Likewise, go backfill your timeline! Right now, I have my complete work history (all the way back to my first job) and every one of my published blog posts on there. As I remember other significant (to me) events, I add them as well. Most people won’t care that I spent July 20, 2019 flying to Texas and back to pick up the newest member of my family, but I love scrolling through my timeline, seeing that picture of baby Juniper Rose, and remembering that super stressful but wonderful day.
2. Celebrate your wins.
As a second-grade teacher, I learned to celebrate all the wins, big and small. Marissa just finished a new chapter book? Three cheers for her! Tobias made his spelling test goal? Time for a mini dance party! Celebrating kids for their efforts throughout the day built a supportive and loving classroom community. I like to think of Polywork as the perfect place for us grownups to do the same.
So when you survive your first week at a new job, Highlight it! When you complete that craft you’ve been working on for weeks, take a picture and share it with the world. And here’s my favorite part about these posts: there’s no “like” feature. You share what you want to share with the universe without worrying about winning some fabricated popularity contest. Highlight your win, toot your own horn, and then go feel that tiny burst of joy when you see countless others doing the same.
3. Celebrate your losses learning opportunities.
Just as I learned to celebrate every little success, teaching also taught me the value of failing in public. When I misspelled a word on the board (a tragedy for my English-major heart), my students could see an adult make a mistake, own up to it, and fix it. When the next spelling test rolled around, I would see students marking their mistakes, rewriting it correctly, and moving on to the next thing. No tears, no pressure to cheat, just casual recognition that they had something to work on.
When I merged my first pull request at dutchie, I also kinda-sorta introduced a bug that broke production for a short time.
Yes, it was mortifying in the moment, but I also recognized that it happens to every developer at some point in their career. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I made a mistake, I owned up to it, learned something new about our QA processes (mainly that I shouldn’t bypass them, even for teeny tiny PRs that make a seemingly insignificant change), and worked with members of my team to get it fixed.
How many interviews have you had where they said, “Tell me about a time you messed up at work. What did you do?” This question used to stress me out beyond belief. I typically like to blot all evidence of a mistake from my memory! Why make me dredge up something so painful and counter to the point I’m trying to make — that I’m the perfect candidate for the job?
The truth is, I’m not the perfect candidate; nobody is. Normalizing the acceptance of failures and reframing them as learning opportunities relieves that pressure to be perfect, encourages honesty between you and the interviewer, and also shows you are resilient and capable, despite your imperfections. What’s not to celebrate about that?!
4. Explore the Multiverse!
Let’s step away from our personal timelines for a minute and see where the networking part of “social network” comes into play. Polywork has a space called the Multiverse, which is akin to the traditional feed on other, less amazing social networks. In the Multiverse, you can find like-minded individuals who share the same badges and interests as you. Remember when I mentioned the ability to celebrate others’ achievements? This is where you read all about them.
Of course, you can’t “like” a user’s Highlights, but there is nothing stopping you from giving them a follow and sending a private message of encouragement or congratulations. I’ve also heard through the grapevine that a new comment feature will be rolling out soon, which is how I plan to really engage with the Multiverse. Again, Polywork isn’t a popularity contest, so the individual users get to choose if they would like to receive our contributions from the peanut gallery.
Even without the comment feature, I always visit the Multiverse when I’m looking for a quick pick-me-up. Nothing makes me happier than seeing other people living their best lives.
My main use for the Multiverse is to make more friends (I’m looking at you, Code Witches!), but it’s also the perfect place to do some good, old-fashioned networking, as it will introduce you to all sorts of rad people based on their badges. Hell, there are even badges for “Hiring”, “Job Hunting”, and “Networker”, making it super easy to connect with people who might help you with your next career move.
5. Visit the Space Station.
If you’re looking for a mentor, beta testers for your new product, or simply someone to collaborate with, you’ve got to check out the Space Station. When building your timeline, Polywork asks what type of opportunities you would take part in. The Space Station groups people based on these selections, making it dead simple to find people just waiting for you to reach out to them. No more cold-calling randos on LinkedIn; now you can reach out to people who’ve already shown their interest in what you have to say! I’ll admit I haven’t actively used this feature as much as I could, but I have met several new people who found me through the Space Station, so I recommend you keep your list of opportunities you’d be interested in up to date.
Ok, you got me… now what?
Come join the party at Polywork! There is usually a waiting list to sign up, but VIP codes that skip you to the front of the line are fairly easy to come by.
In fact, if you’ve made it this far, you can use my VIP link to get started building your own personal space! Once you do that, be sure to hit me up so I can follow along on your own magical journey. I look forward to seeing you there!