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Power-Ups for Getting Your First Developer Job

5/27/2020 - 6 min read


Dear amazing human wanting to become a developer,

Looking for your first job is a bit like throwing two hundred darts blind-folded, hoping just one hits.

Throwing several darts and missing the mark

And at times, the search might cause you to act out a bit.

Homer Simpson destroying things out of anger

I feel your frustration. I was there not too long ago myself!

However, there are some things you can do to give yourself an edge.

Resume Power-Ups

1. Put Effort Into Crafting Your Resume

Your resume is what typically gets you in the door for an interview. Aim to be interesting, concise, and honest. Interesting because you need to stand out from 50 other applicants. Concise because the reviewer doesn't have time to read 3 pages. Honest because lying about your skills will always come back to bite you in the butt .

I won't go into detail here on what specific elements your resume should have, but if you have time, I think How to write a great resume for software engineers by freeCodeCamp is packed full of brilliant resume-specific advice.

2. Find an Attractive Resume Template

A clean, sharp layout is often a great way to go. You can get one for $5-10 USD on Creative Market. Or you can use the ones on Canva for free!

3. Get a Tech Recruiter to Review Your Resume

Ask them for feedback. What's good. What could be improved. Is there anything you could add that would grab their attention?

If you don't know of any off the top of your head, one thing you can do is see if you have any in your LinkedIn. And if you don't have a profile, I certainly recommend creating one.

4. Add a Brief Bio/Summary Section

Don't do what everyone else does in their professional summary section. Of course you're hard-working and know Microsoft Word. That shit is so generic!

Sherlock Holmes stating that something is obvious

To stand out, add a brief blurb that reveals your personality.

This is what I put for mine.

Ever since I can remember, whether it was Legos or drawing, I’ve been a maker. I absolutely love dreaming up ideas and making them come to fruition. I excel at imagining solutions to complex problems, rapidly acquiring new skills, and achieving goals under high pressure. My desire is to join an organization that is passionate about beautiful interfaces and technology that makes people’s lives better.

I've had quite a few recruiters and hiring managers rave about that section of my resume!

What's your story?

What are you interested in that could be related to the job you're applying for?

5. List Projects You're Passionate About

Employers worth their weight in salt will appreciate this. Apparently it's rare to find an entry-level developer who builds things and can also talk about the codebase in a coherent manner?

Another takeaway from this point can be...

YOU NEED TO BUILD THINGS.

It doesn't matter if it's a side project or contributing to open-source. You simply need to demonstrate to employers that you can take what you've learned and apply it.

Application Power-Ups

1. Pace Yourself

Don't apply to large amounts of positions in short bursts. You'll burn yourself out and give up. Instead, pace yourself. 2 application per day for a week ends up being better than 8 applications on a single day.

2. Track Everything

Use a tool to track the jobs you've applied for. This is so important. How the hell are you supposed to juggle hundreds of different variables in your head alone? Think about all the steps. Applying. Following up. Writing thank you notes.

If you apply to 150 jobs like I did and then do at least 3 actions for each app, that's 450 things you need to track with your mental todolist. I don't think there's anyone on this planet who's capable of carrying that mental load.

There are spreadsheets floating around the web you can use. Or you can use a free tool like Huntr, which is basically Trello for job-hunting.

3. Set Up Job Alerts

The truth is first movers have the advantage. So you want to aim to apply to jobs when they first spring up. Many job boards have an option to create an alert for new jobs matching specific terms or criteria. Set some up and apply as soon as you can.

Interviewing Power-Ups

1. Send Thank You Notes

Send πŸ‘ a πŸ‘ thank-you πŸ‘ note πŸ‘ after πŸ‘ EVERY πŸ‘ interview.

Even phone screens. Just do it.

For further understanding as to why this is so crucial, I recommend reading Sample of a Thank You Email After an Interview.

2. Have Questions Ready

Be prepared with questions you want to ask the interviewers. Do your research on the company and think of what else you'd like to know. This a mutual interview! You want to know if they're a good fit for you as well.

3. Prep for a Technical Interview

Technical interviews are probably the scariest part of this whole process. I don't have too much to say here except that this article from freeCodeCamp is fantastic and will help you both prepare and feel less anxious.

4. Demonstrate Humility and Curiosity

Show the interviewers that you're both teachable and curious. They want to know...

Are they going to be able to train you and teach you best practices?

Are you going to have the initiative to learn new things without being explicitly told to?

Final Thoughts

If you're reading this, there's a chance you're discouraged from your job hunt.

I want you to know, what you're feeling isn't unusual. My own job search was full of frustration and self-doubt regarding my abilities. Receiving over 150 rejections isn't exactly good for mental health.

One thing that helped me keep going was remembering that each rejection wasn't a reflection of my worth - things just weren't a good fit. And the same goes for you. You've worked incredibly hard to get to this point - so even without a job you should be proud of yourself.

I wish you the best of luck!