The following tips helped me to land my first junior full-stack position in one month back in 2016. Even though I did only 4/7 tips, but that's because I was completely new to the game, and it felt less "competitive" than it is today. The following tips were thought out based on what I did personally in the past and what I've learned/witnessed by working in the field for over 5 years now.
Let's start with the most apparent/easy one first.
Back when I was applying for my first junior web developer position in 2016, I didn't have a website because it didn't "feel" necessary or competitive as it is today for a lot of new developers.
There are many more self-taught developers, graduates from colleges, and coding bootcamps, and the chances of them having a portfolio are high. So little by little, I'm starting to believe that having a portfolio could help you stand out and maybe land on the interview. But at the end of the day, your interviewer will judge you based on your skills and not if you have a portfolio.
When I was applying for my first junior full-stack position, I had two available projects on my GitHub. A small frontend application and a full web app with complex features. I confidently explained each technology I used, why I wrote the code the way I did, how I built my schema, and how I imported the data in (this part is called fixtures, but I didn't know about it back then).
My projects aimed directly at becoming a full stack developer, so I already knew what jobs to apply for and where I will stand out.
LinkedIn is the tool that recruiters use religiously to find candidates for new open roles. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, create one. If you have one, but it's empty, it's time to update it with your projects, languages/frameworks that you know, or what to be proficient in. Use an "About You" section if you haven't done so. The more information you have on your profile, the higher the chance of finding you because it is all based on keywords. Also, it doesn't mean you have to mention all languages and frameworks (then you will look like the master of none).
There are multiple reasons why you would want to attend a hackathon. But one of the main reasons you want to consider is because many tech professionals are attending it. Some of them go there to have fun, and others could be looking for new developers to fill in a role they have open at a company they work at. Also, if you're a self-taught developer or graduate from a coding bootcamp, you may not have as many professional contacts. So this is the perfect way to get to know more people within your field.
When I was writing my first resume, I didn't have a link to my portfolio, GitHub, or even my LinkedIn!
But it had all the essential information that a recruiter/employer wanted to see. I had a summary that underlined what I was looking for and where I see myself heading in the future. Highlighted my strength, technical skills, and a lot more (I have a video on this. If you haven't seen it yet, I have it available on my YouTube channel DevPool). You also want to go over the interview stages (screening, coding, and behavioral). Each of them is important because if you passed the coding, it doesn't mean that the company will hire you if you didn't pass the behavioral.
You could work on a new project using new technology, but if you already have like 100, should you be working on 101?
The best way to upskill your skills is to work. Now hold up, isn't this what we are trying to do? Yes, and there are jobs that you can start applying for. The only important thing you will be getting out of it is building something real users are using. You've probably guessed that I'm referring to non-profit organizations. You can include that into your resume and start applying for jobs again as you're working there. The difference now is that the recruiter or an employer cannot say, "you don't have working experience".
I remember when I applied to 10 jobs a day minimum, which would lead to a lot of rejections. I had no idea what I was doing because it was my first time, but I would ask for feedback on what I did wrong and see how I could improve. The fact that I was applying to many jobs per week helped me fix many mistakes much-much faster than I anticipated. So by the time I was reaching the end of the month, I was able to get several offers to choose from.
There is the say "repetition is the key," and it's there for a reason.
These are the seven tips that I hope can help some get that junior developer job much faster than you thought.
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