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How to get your first job as a Software Engineer

Jordi Enric
Hey, I'm a self-taught senior Frontend Engineer + UX Designer. I'm writing about frontend, software, career advice and building things. Follow me on twitter if you like it @jordienr 😁
Updated on ・4 min read

If you believe you have the skills to become a junior software engineer and have started applying to jobs let me help you out.

First understand that getting the first job, specially if you don't have a degree, will probably be the hardest part of your career.

Resume

  • One page.
  • Includes the technologies you're comfortable working with, frameworks too.
  • Includes relevant experience to the role you're applying for.
  • Includes relevant education.

If you're self-taught include the list of resources you used to learn.

If you don't have any real experience add some personal projects with links to the project, technologies used, etc.

Tips

  • Don't use skill bars or % to represent your skill level (Ex: 65% JavaScript). If you're comfortable using a technology add it, otherwise don't. No one expects you to be an expert.

  • Don't make it too colorful or graphic, it will make you look more professional. Keep those things for your personal website.

  • Make it easy to scan

    • Use headings for each section
    • Use lists
    • Make short paragraphs

Kinda like I do in this article 🤠

This document will help you get past the first filters which will probably be recruiters that are not experts about technology. They will have a list of job offers and will check this document to see if you fit any.

Pro Tip:

Google Junior Software Engineer CVs and check examples online, copy their designs and structure.

Personal Website & Portfolio

I recommend you create some content like blog posts about the things you learn. This will look good to recruiters and companies and will also help you solidify the things you're learning.

Being able to explain things clearly in a document is a really valuable skill for most businesses. You can practice that by writing on your blog. You can then share it here in dev.to.

Sections you could have in your website:

  • Blog
  • About me
    • Who are you
    • What do you do
    • How did you learn the things you know
    • What are your hobbies other than programming
    • Picture of you, try to look happy
  • Contact
    • Email & LinkedIn
    • How long do you usually take to respond
  • Projects
    • Things you've made
    • Pictures of what you've made
    • Links to what you've made
    • Why did you make them

Somewhat Pro Tip:
You can create a static site, completely free with Github Pages, Netilfy or Vercel.

LinkedIn

This one is important. Many Software Developers like shitting on LinkedIn. I don't particularly love it, but I find it really useful to network, keep in touch with old colleagues, find job opportunities, etc.

I got my last 2 jobs thought LinkedIn chats. Not even applying to jobs. Just connecting with people and talking.

Here's what you should do:

  • Complete your LinkedIn profile.
    If you have a Resume and Personal website this will be mostly copying and pasting.

  • Add a picture, make sure your face is covering at least 60% of the space, has good lighting, you don't look like a serial killer, you're the only one in the picture, try to look happy.

  • Search "recruiter" + city you want to work at.

  • Connect with some of them. Try to send notes saying something like:

'Hello NAME, I'm actively looking for jobs in the X industry and would like to connect with you. Have a good day!'

Other searches you can do are:

  • IT / TECH Headhunter (Yeah this is a thing)
  • HR
  • Talent Acquisition

Now connect with other developers like you, in my experience most developers will accept if they see clearly that you're a developer.

Build your network.

Applying to job offers

Now here LinkedIn has something that other job-boards don't. You can see who posted it, connect and message them.

When you see an offer you could fit in. Connect with whoever posted it. Talk to them, share that you're interested and you think you could be a good fit.

This usually works because you're doing the recruiter/poster job for them. Every job offer is different than the others, so recruiters have a hard time finding developers that fit their offers. You want to help recruiters help you, recruiters are your friends.

Be nice to recruiters

They are not Software Development experts, they don't have to be, that's your job not theirs. If a recruiter contacts you with an offer that doesn't fit your profile say thanks and decline. They are trying to help people find jobs, don't be an ass.

Ask for feedback to recruiters

They know what works and what kind of profile companies are looking for. They can help you tailor your resume. They can give you info on salary in case you have to discuss that on the interview.

Hang on

As I said, getting your first job is probably the hardest part. If you don't have experience going to interviews and some of them go wrong don't worry too much about it. Treat interviews as learning experiences specially at the beginning. Always be nice and ask for feedback.

You will probably go to 100s of interviews throughout your career so some of them will go wrong, it doesn't matter. Try to learn and improve.

Free resources

https://capd.mit.edu/jobs-and-internships/resumes-cvs-cover-letters-and-linkedin

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/careers/applications-and-interviews/cv/

Follow me on twitter for more.

I'm also working on a website & newsletter with resources, tools and cool stuff for frontend developers, you can find it here: https://zerotofrontend.dev/ it's currently on "soft launch" mode and I haven't started sending the letters yet. Subscribe now to get the first one in May!

Discussion (1)

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Some great tips here thanks for sharing them.

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