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Carlene Cannon-Conner
Carlene Cannon-Conner

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Advice on Landing Your First Job in Tech πŸ’Ό

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Portfolio of work
  • The importance of online presence
  • Where to look for jobs
  • CV and cover letter
  • Interviews

Introduction

I have been approached on the subject of "how to land your first tech role" several times. Each time I have given specific advice to the individual's circumstances. I have decided to share some of my more general advice here in hopes it can help you.

Portfolio of work

A lot of junior roles ask for at least a year's professional experience in specific languages or frameworks. You may have experience in all or just some of them but have no 'professional' experience. Don't let this put you off. This is where your portfolio of work comes into play.

I assume that you have learned to program via self-study or by completing one or more courses such as a degree. In doing so you have likely worked on various group or personal projects. Consider these projects as your portfolio of work. This is your evidence that you are capable of doing what you claim to have learned and that your are capable of learning the rest on the job.

You can present your portfolio of work in a variety of ways. For instance, when I first created my portfolio, as a Web Application Developer, I created a personal portfolio website that linked to my various web-based projects. I created videos of my mobile apps and animations and included them in my portfolio as well.

Although a lot of people do create a personal portfolio and host it themselves, not everyone's work is related to web development. So what are your other options? Likely your code is version-controlled and it is hosted somewhere like GitHub. If it isn't I recommend you do so. Hosting services such as this provide you with several additional benefits. Recruiters can look at any of your public source code and any of your documentation and judge its quality. You are also able to publicly share how often you are contributing to repositories, this includes other people's, not just your own. This will demonstrate how active you are within the coding community this is often seen as a positive thing by recruiters.

The importance of online presence

When you apply for a role it is likely one or more members involved in the recruitment process will have a look at your online presence. What I mean by this is they may look at any online portfolios or bodies of work you have put online. They may also look at your social media. Usually, this will only include your professional ones such as LinkedIn however, be aware that they may look at your social ones too. It is important to proofread it all, and ensure you are giving the right first impression.

Β Where to look for jobs

So you are ready to apply for a role, but where to find them? Here are some of my recommendations:

  • LinkedIn often allows you to apply with your LinkedIn profile, therefore you don't need to upload a CV. They provide more details for paying members, for instance, they may show how many people have applied for a particular role already.

  • Hired, does a bit of role reversal, companies approach you, not the other way round. This is based on details and expectations you provide them.

  • Glass Door, has the benefit of company ratings provided by current and previous employees. Some even let you know what to expect in terms of benefits and compensation.

CV and cover letter

Much like your online presence, pay attention to your CV and cover letter, first impressions count. Is your CV well laid out? Do you put important things like skill and experience on the first page? Most advice out there seems to suggest CVs should be no longer than 2 sides of A4 and the font size no smaller than 11.

Unlike the CV which talks about your previous experience and skill set, the cover letter is your opportunity to explain why you are applying to this company/role in particular. If this is your first tech role, you can talk about any transferable skills you have gained elsewhere, and what efforts you have made to prepare for this role, for instance, a particular course.

Interviews

So they seemed to like what they've seen of your online presence, your CV and or cover letter and you have secured an interview. What should you expect? This will very much depend on the size of the company and the urgency to fill a position. But most companies have interview processes that involve more than one interview.

There is usually an initial call, which may be with the company's recruiter to explain the role in more detail they will also want to get a general idea of what you are looking for, your background and if it matches their needs.

This is often followed by a technical interview with someone on the team they expect you to work with, should you get the job. They would like to get a feel for your technical understanding, this could be a bunch of theoretical coding questions or they may set you a coding challenge. This is either a take-home exercise or a live coding test. Now, this can be intimidating, but they aren't trying to catch you out, they want to see your thought process. You can ask clarifying questions, and look things up. This isn't a closed book test!

Further interviews may be used to determine things such as cultural fit, within the company. Remember with all these interviews, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Do you like the company, the role, and the people you are likely to work with? Don't be afraid to ask questions throughout as well as at the end so prepare some in advance.

There are plenty of online resources out there with interview advice if you need it for instance https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/coding-interview-preparation/

I hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions to ask me or advice to add, please feel free to comment.

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