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Eliot Sanford
Eliot Sanford

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Try this one thing

​​Struggling to find work as a junior developer?

At least try to get one client. Work for yourself as contractor on a client work opportunity. Give it a shot. It can be an unlock.

Well, you might say, “Well where do I find clients?".

To find leads for client work, volunteer and bring people value, build relationships, offer your services to people who don’t have websites or apps for their business. Offer your skills to people in need of your help. You don’t have to be an expert. You just need to have some sort of confidence in your value that you can offer along with your time.

Again, you might be saying, "Well it's still COVID times or I'm just not that well connected. What then?"

Try the people in your family and friendships. Go to your email and phone contacts. You could try to message people in your network like literally one-by-one phone contacts and message or call them. Just touch base and start a conversation where y’all left off. Don't be all sales-ish. Call them out of a genuine desire to talk with them and find out how they are doing, especially if it's been a while.

In the conversation or at least towards the end of the conversation weave in and let them know about your bootcamp completion or self-taught path. You could share completed projects, your resume, and/or your current job search with the list of interviews that you've done so far.

Without asking directly for a job, let them make the next move whether they have a development contact who has work or client work.

Be polite if they know nothing about tech and suggest something unrelated to your path. Just remember that people want to help you. It's not a small thing that they've suggested something, even if it is not helpful.

Be ready to reach out to share your resume and contact information and reach out to those leads immediately that are connected to those contacts. They will talk with those people. It reflects poorly on your desire to truly find work if you flake on reaching out. Plus, it really shows them that you're not serious. Be serious. Make a good impression. Go get what you want.

Well, again you might say, "But, I'm shy, what then?"

Don't overwhelm yourself with it. Set an achievable goal. How about you reach out to one or two contacts a day for five days a week. Start with people closest to you, or the people who've helped you in the past, or better yet the people who've said, "I owe you one." That is doable. Build confidence from the easy wins.

You might discover some tough project and say, "It's just too much what this person needs done. What then?"

Saying "No thanks." is an ok answer. Especially, if the person ends up being a toxic person or leads you to people that are taking advantage of you. You should certainly decline those opportunities. Don't do anything illegal either.

If interest but the work is a lot, there's another option. Invite bootcamp friends or experienced devs to join your client project. Ask mentors for advice, what you should do. Find referrals for people that are also looking for work. Distribute the work responsibility. Find others who are strong where you are weak.

You might say, "Well, that's a lot of work. What then?"

Think through whether it's worth it to you. You could still decline the project at any point still, or you could get creative with how you want to continue. You've got more in you than you want to believe at times.

You also might say, "Well, we verbal agreed. What then?"

Get the contract in writing. Find a template or ask for advice from successful contractor friends. Don't start the work until you get paid a portion upfront. Negotiate something fair, but at the end of the day, give yourself the ability to walk away and have gotten paid for some of your efforts.

After that first payment, focus 100%, everything you've got to crush that project. Resist the urge to add a lot of clients all at the same time. Focus everything on just the one for now.

Carve out the needed time. Reduce your interviews or other activities if needed. Put in at least 20 and up to 40 hours if you can. Try it like it’s your job because at that point in time, it is your job. Be professional and put in the work to get the desired outcome for the client. Be patient, it could take time to finish the work depending on the scope of the job.

Having a production app or client MVP out there is huge in terms of gaining experience. Like I said it can be the unlock since it’s created your own junior experience.

Returning back to referrals for work, sometimes people don’t have work at the moment but because you broadcast you’re searching and/or you're volunteering in the tech community and bringing value, then you’re top of their mind when opportunities are there.

Think of it your way of building relationships to gain recommendations from established developers and successful friends.

Hope this advice is helpful. Would love to hear your feedback and additional thoughts. Please drop them in the comments.

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