Can you elaborate on the jobs included in this hunt? If you are getting rejected due to lack of experience, my advice would be to apply to jobs that expect no prior experience (junior or entry level positions). It'd be helpful to know more details about these jobs though. What are the titles on the job posting? What are the industries?
Entry level developer, entry level software engineer, entry level devops engineer. Primarily in the finance industry. Most everything where I live that is C++ is trading/finance and not hiring for entry level, python and java are generally finance as well. I tend to avoid entry level/junior postings that require 5+ years of experience
Its my impression that the finance industry has an especially "corporate" culture. Those companies are probably going to place less value on freelance work, open source work, or side projects, and more value on the number of years you've spent working at another corporate company. That's not to say there aren't exceptions to this rule, but I think you'd have more luck if you applied to a company in the tech industry. Those companies are more likely to value self directed work (freelance, open source, side projects, etc). You're going to get a lot of advice telling you to build this portfolio of self directed work, but make sure you're applying to positions that value that portfolio.
I hope this helps, I really wanted to provide better advice than just "keeping doing work, keep applying." It is really hard to get that first software dev job, so just know that you aren't alone in this struggle.
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