IT Job Bandit
June 18, 2023
The Application Portfolio for Brett Gamble
The development of the IT Job Bandit website was the culmination of many thought processes over the years with my own struggle to move back into the I.T industry after time spent as an entrepreneur in various alternate segments.
After I was made redundant from Alberta Municipal Affairs I immersed myself into something I was very passionate about and that was using fitness to help others either to achieve their fitness goals or as a coach/mentor to help them find their paths. This led me to founding two CrossFit 'boxes' over time in Edmonton, Alberta, both of which failed for various reasons.
Over a period of 10 years or so, I coached upwards of 3,000 people, built two businesses from scratch and began work on a startup to identify the best used cars within a particular market. Despite spending many years of time, and helping many people, and not being paid for years on end, all of these attempts were fruitless in terms of putting food on the table.
My transition back into the I.T workforce began with a simple goal. I wanted to take my limited understanding of Angular, combined with a hobby like approach to Google Cloud and transfer that new found skill set into a job as a developer.
Never did I think that this would be so difficult. 300 job applications later, a couple of stints as an 18 wheel heavy transport driver, and as a consultant for a local Edmonton company, and all I had to show was a single interview.
It was this interview, with Auto Canada (what the heck, perhaps I am too transparent for my own good), where I was told by the two interviewers that I was too hands on tech oriented for the role of Application Development Manager that I realized there was a big problem with the approach that most of us take when applying for a role.
Me? Too hands on tech oriented? YFKM.
My search for work, 300 applications and more, was very ineffective. I found that the same jobs were appearing on several sites, sometimes with slight wording changes, and that they were quite often being removed and re-posted days later.
Oh, and out of these 300, I maybe received half a dozen no-thank-you's.
There has to be a better way than scanning dozens of websites a day, setting up alerts and the hours spent crafting cover letters and copies of your resume or CV so that they were specific to the role you are applying for.
I began thinking, that there is no-one in the recruiting industry who cares at all beyond payment for the gig that they are trying to fill.
I eventually did find a position. And that is a whole different story about how to accept being hired as second choice when you gut is telling you something that you probably should be listening too.
Roll forward to March 2023 when I attended my first 'Edmonton Tech Wednesdays' which had been organized by a local gentleman, Paul Bakhmut. That first day, most of the conversation pivoted back and forth between the difficulty people were having finding work, and how companies in Alberta were having difficulty finding people to fill positions.
I argued that companies were blind to the resources out there by setting the barrier so high for positions that 80% of the people who found the jobs simply would not apply and that these same companies were mixing requirements for tech positions to the point that specificity was being thrown out the window.
On the other side of the table, job seekers were saying things like:
- Applying for hundreds of roles and never hearing back
- Ghost positions were being advertised
- Roles were specifying senior positions but paying for juniors
- All roles require degrees.
- When seeking positions you have to look at many different sites
It was the last point that peaked my interest as it certainly hit home to me as a serious difficulty that I also had encountered.
At the time (and probably true even today) I was working through a Computer Science degree and the academic staff were constantly reminding us to build a portfolio of our work as we progressed. I already had come a long way building web applications in React and the Next.js framework so I thought...why not? Why not create a 90's style site that curates tech jobs for the 80%?
The 80% being, tech jobs that encourage self taught developers to apply, that may require a degree, but do not require masters or PhD level applicants.
Over the next 6 weeks, IT Job Bandit was created to fulfill this purpose. To curate jobs from Albertan companies (250 at the time of writing) that encourage applicants from the 80% pool, and that were rewarded for remote work.
As I write this, we are about to hit 100 curated jobs curated from a growing pool of over 250 companies.
The site itself started as a simple listing and a newsletter, but in the months since launch (June 2007) many small improvements have been made. Future development will include the addition of:
- AI based search using Algolia
- Replace the lists with paginated block listings
- Continuous robot crawl to check that listings remain valid
- Google Ads. Hey, even though this is a help site, it is a self-help site!
- Robot to crawl for new jobs
- The addition of a new application (via authentication) that allows people to match against jobs, prepare cover letters and CV's --> reusable but modifiable content
- An authentication/paywall that pairs recruiters and CV writers to individual job seekers via a backend where one to one assistance can be provided.
- and the list goes on
Wrapping up, I see the work involved in building and maintaining this site as a way to continuously develop my skills around Next.js and React. If it helps with my education, pays for a coffee or two, but ultimately helps people to find work, then I would be very happy for those outcomes to be realized.