Landing your first job as a developer isn’t necessarily easy. Like most things worth achieving, it takes work.
However, there are a ton of little things you can do over the course of your job searching process to make it even more likely that you’ll land an awesome new position as a developer.
We came up with 21 things that you can do to hack your way to your new job. And we think that number 17 is probably the most important one of them all.
1. Set up your angel.co profile.
Angel.co has job listings from a ton of tech start-ups that are looking to hire developers. Following the steps to complete your profile and getting it 100% complete is a great first step. You want to be active on a platform where programmers are actively hired.
2. Clean up your GitHub profile.
GitHub is a platform that is used by most developers to collaborate with each other on code. It also allows you to feature the projects you’ve recently worked on.
Future employers will judge you based on the work you’ve put on GitHub. Your code is a representation of the work you’re capable of doing. Employers generally aren’t going to look at every single project on your GitHub. Rather, they’ll look at one or two projects on your profile.
This means that you’re best removing projects that you don’t think adequately your skill as a developer today. You’re better off only featuring your impressive projects instead of featuring things you quickly hacked together.
3. Polish your resume.
If you’re working on a personal passion project, don’t hesitate to feature it on your resume.
The further along you are in the process, the more attention and care you should give to potential prospects. You should spend more time perfecting communications with people who are more likely to hire you.
You should also continue applying to jobs and opening up new conversations with other companies all the time. Don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket. Doing so can force you to start all the way at square one if your one opportunity doesn’t pan out.
5. Craft your personal developer story.
You should have some life experiences that helped push you in the direction of becoming a software developer. Figure out your personal story and figure out how technology fits into it.
Coming up with your web developer personal brand is an important step of landing a job as a developer.
6. Sign up for meetups (right now).
The simple act of signing up for the meetup groups in your area right now will help you by giving you a notice when something happens. And when the event actually happens, make sure you go.
Nervous to attend a meetup? You shouldn’t be. Here’s what you need to know about attending programming meetups and how to act when you’re there.
7. Set up Your LinkedIn Account.
Update your LinkedIn to include details from your personal developer story. Include all relevant experience and your educational background. And feature the projects you’re actively working on. Also make sure to add connections to friends, peers, and other people you meet in-person.
8. Spend time fixing your projects’ README files on GitHub.
There’s a particularly special file that a disproportionate amount of people will see when it comes to your projects on GitHub. Each project has one file, usually called README.md, which is your opportunity to explain what your project is and how it works.
By default there will be a blank, placeholder README file that might look something like this:
If you’re deciding that a project is important enough to keep on your GitHub profile, it’s up to you to include a README that explains what the project does and how it works. You can even include screenshots of the app. Spending a little time to make the README.md perfect can make someone immediately recognize what they’re actually looking at:
9. Volunteer at programming events.
There are programming workshops like Railsbridge or Girl Develop It that help expose people to programming and Ruby on Rails. These types of events are a great opportunity to help out people who are just beginning their programming journey. Even the small things, like helping to rearrange chairs, can help the organizers and can help you get your foot in the door at their companies.
10. Always learn from your failures.
There’s no such thing as a total failure as long as you learn the lesson. You will make mistakes, people will turn you down, and things won’t always go smoothly. So long as you take the time to learn from every mistake you make, the mistake can actually place you one step closer to achieving your goal.
11. Start finding job postings on job boards.
There are so many different job boards for professional programmers. Visit all of them and keep track of positions that you want to reach out to.
12. Don’t overcomplicate things.
Don’t waste time working with advanced systems to keep track of your job search process. Just document the process in the simplest way possible so you can get a feel for how things go. I’m a fan of keeping track of jobs in an Excel spreadsheet, but other tools, like Trello, can get the job done too.
13. Search your network.
Look through your existing network on LinkedIn for valuable 2nd-degree connections. It’s possible that you’re just a step away from an introduction to someone who knows about open web developer positions.
14. Audit your social media presence.
Lots of people have made remarks on social media that don’t represent them in the best way. Clean these up. You can even use a tool like BrandYourself to help you out. You want to make sure that you’re coming across as a responsible, reliable and professional version of yourself to the people who will be considering hiring you.
If you’re active on Twitter (and it’s public), make sure the last 20-30 tweets you’ve made are responsible. Even better if your latest tweets are about programming related topics, too.
15. Start blogging about technical topics.
Most programmers write blog posts about technical topics, They like to help contribute to the collective knowledge about programming that exists on the Internet. Step up to the plate and start producing some content about technical topics yourself.
16. Utilize transferable skills from a previous career.
A big part of writing software involves sitting at a computer and writing code. Writing code is a technical, detail-oriented process that focuses on creating repeatable steps that happen when events happen. If you’ve ever worked to outline or automate repeatable processes in the past, focus on that.
Programming also involves a lot of other skills too. Things like:
- Testing the features you’ve built to make sure they actually work.
- Planning and prioritizing the bugs and features that make the most sense to work on.
- Communicating with managers.
- Working with other people
17. Don’t stop coding.
Continue to code on a project consistently. This is important for a few different reasons.
- First, it will keep your coding skills sharp. If it takes a month or two to land a job as a developer and you stop coding in that whole month, it can be easy to have forgotten much of what you already learned. Keep working and keep your skills sharp.
- Second, it will help you showcase your passion for the craft over the other applicants that you’re competing with. If you’re continuing to work to perfect the craft, you’ll have a leg up on the competition.
18. Don’t undervalue the value of a degree.
If you don’t have a degree from a university, it won’t stop you from breaking into tech. If, however, you have a degree in an unrelated field like:
- Art History
Your degree isn’t meaningless. University is all about learning how to learn, complete work, and demonstrate a willingness to go through a process that is extensive and takes years to complete. If you’re starting school from scratch, a degree in a technical field like Computer Science or Computer Engineering best sets you up to succeed as a web developer. But If you’ve already received a degree in a different field, that’s ok too. Work with what you got.
19. Start applying before you feel ready.
Applying for jobs will pull you outside your comfort zone. It can be tempting to try to wait until you feel 100% prepared. But you’ll never feel 100% ready, and the process of applying, interviewing and communicating with employers will teach you what you need to know.
20. Keep solving coding challenges as you apply.
21. Be patient.
Learning to program and learning how to land a job as a developer are fairly different skills, but they can only be learned one way: from doing.
So be patient as you learn the skill of marketing yourself as a developer. You didn’t learn everything you know about programming overnight. Programming is a difficult skill to learn (which is why it’s so in demand). Learning how to get a job as a developer takes time too.
Be patient with yourself and don’t expect immediate success. It will take time as you learn the ins and outs of the job search process. And it will likely involve a few slip-ups along the way.
Most people have interviewed for a job that they didn’t ultimately get. It’s 100% normal. And if you don’t get a position, it says nothing about you as a person or your skill as a developer.
Stay confident. Stay happy. And stay patient in your job search. If you do so, things will eventually work out in your favor.