Junior Developers: Put yourself in the best position

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Junior Developers: Put yourself in the best position

Posted 13 April 2021

Are you a recent tech graduate who is looking for a new job as a junior developer? Or maybe a self-taught junior freelance developer on the lookout for a full-time position? When you’re a junior web developer, landing that first job can be challenging. However, you’re where every software developer once began! Although a degree may help in certain roles, it's not a necessity. What you do leading up to applying for your first role is what counts. You know you’ve got the skills to do the job but how do you even secure the interview in the first place, how do you make a memorable first impression and what sort of things are hiring managers looking for? 🤔

We’ve rounded up a list of top steps to take on the way to landing a junior web developer job.✍🏼

How can I gain experience that will help me land a job?

Lots of employers want you to have some sort of experience, but how do you get experience without a job? For engineers, there are plenty of ways to put your skills to good use and give hiring managers something to be impressed by. Before you’re officially hired, here are some ways to keep developing your skills:

📖 Courses – Online courses are a great way to continue investing in your education and further your skills. It’s all about putting your skills into action and continuing to learn. Learn a new language, take on some machine learning or even learn a new dev tool, all from the comfort of your own home.

👨‍💻 Open source projects - Open source projects are publicly available source code that can be modified by anyone. There’s a huge range of open source projects to get involved in, including well-known ones like Ruby on Rails, Linux, MySQL, and loads of JavaScript frameworks. As well as practicing your skills, open source projects will get you hands-on experience working collaboratively with other developers and expand your network. You can find a range of open source projects of all kinds on GitHub.

💻 Freelance work - If you feel like your portfolio needs some spicing up, taking on projects as a freelancer will help you to build credibility as well as increase your bank balance. Check sites like Upwork and fiverr or try approaching smaller companies to see if they could use your help. Freelancing sends a clear message to employers that you’ve got real-world skills and you’re committed to working in the tech industry without holding a permanent position.

👶 Try and join a start-up company - Whilst a big brand may stand out on your resume, by working for a start-up you will take on multiple responsibilities and work closely with senior members. Here, you’ll be able to prove your worth from the beginning, making it more likely to reach managerial positions much quicker than you would in a large corporate company.

How can I grow my network?

Networking within any industry is key in career development and will naturally open more professional doors for you. Building a solid network and becoming part of a community will provide a great source of support, added mentorship and expand your knowledge. The easiest ways to engage with fellow developers are:

Tech meetup groups – Almost city has meetups for developers to help expand your circle and push your career to the next level. At a meetup you can expect to get advice, find freelance opportunities, or even meet a potential employer. Popular tech meetup groups include RailsBridge, CodeBuddies and Women Who Code.

📱 Chat apps - Communities built on online chat apps such as Slack and Discord are skyrocketing day by day. People from different countries and backgrounds can discuss a various range of topics and get help/advice on projects they may be working on. Medium.com provides a full list of the 1000 best tech Slack communities (https://medium.com/startupsco/the-full-list-of-400-slack-communities-5545e82cf65d).

🌎 Social channels – Channels such as Twitter and Linkedin will not only help build your community by connecting with other developers but also broaden your perspective on certain topics by seeing opinions from different points of view. Engage with content and comment on threads related to development to help stay continuously updated on topics of interest.

How can I make my resume stand out?

It’s important you stand out from the rest of the competition to not get lost in a big pile of other developer resumes. If you are serious a certain role, you must tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for as the techstack and requirements may slightly differ. Important things to ensure your resume stands out includes:

🎯 Include the right skills – In both your resume and cover letter, it’s vital to highlight the skills that match you to the role. Even if you are a fullstack developer and have an impressively broad skillset, employers are only skimming to find the relevant skills so it’s important to emphasise the skills that are required. Pick out the most important keywords from the job specification and optimize your resume for those exact terms

💻 Put your code on Github and include the link in your resume - Many companies want to know that you have hands-on experience before considering an offer, even if you’re only doing imaginary projects. Creating a GitHub account, making regular contributions and keeping your code clean shows potential employers that you’re actively expanding your skillset and you’re able to keep your code organized.

📝 Providing relevant examples – Although you may not be familiar with the entire techstack, employers will appreciate it a lot more if you give specific examples in previous situations on how you’ve overcome a challenge. Examples and statistics can back-up your achievements and strengths.

For a full article on how to make your tech resume stand out 👉https://www.umatr.io/blog/2021/03/how-to-create-a-tech-resume-that-stands-out

How can I refine my job search?

Your job search should be refined to your existing skills and what you want to be working on in the future. For example, if you want frontend roles, you should probably be applying for a frontend focused role rather than a fullstack backend focused position. It’s good to keep in mind the following to help refine your search:

🤔 What specific area of web development suits you most?

📏 What size company would you prefer to work in?

👨‍⚕️ What industries/products are you interested in?

✈️ Are you willing to relocate?

🏠 Would you rather work remotely or onsite?

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Do you prefer a small or large team?

How can I prepare in the best way for my first interview and make a memorable first impression?

So, you’ve completed all the steps and now it’s time for the final hurdle. First impressions count and even if you’ve got all the technical skills, you’ll still need to convince the employer you have a genuine passion for the role. Make sure you stand out from the crowd and prepare in the best way possible by:

🥇 Prepare for a coding challenge or technical test – It’s highly likely that you’ll be asked to take a coding challenge as part of the interview process at some point. It is sensible to always be prepared and fully comfortable with working on a challenge which includes the techstack of the role. As a junior developer you’re not expected to be an expert and employers will appreciate the honesty if emphasise that while you don’t know XYZ, you pick things up quickly and are passionate to learn

🔎 Research the company and role thoroughly – Researching the company and job specification doesn’t mean just scanning and knowing the basics. Employers want to see that you truly know their mission and where your role fits into this. Extra research can include checking the companies social media for their latest news, looking up the person who is interviewing you and what they do within the company and researching any challenges they face.

📰 Follow industry news and learn relevant, new skills regularly – Relevant material should be your new best friend and you should be investing time every week to read blogs and articles. Reading regulary will keep you up to date with latest industry trends, new technologies, potential opportunities and employers will love that you have a genuine interest outside of the workplace.

Once you've followed these tips and secured yourself your dream engineering role, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, check out Joe Karlsson (https://www.joekarlsson.com/) for tips on what you should make sure you do/gain within your first year as a Junior Developer.

Are you a junior developer looking to take the first step into your career? At UMATR we are committed to helping you find your dream role Because You Matter. Get in touch with nicole@umatr.io 💙

☁️☁️☁️☁️🚀☁️☁️

Resources:

https://medium.com/startupsco/the-full-list-of-400-slack-communities-5545e82cf65d

https://www.educative.io/blog/junior-developer-survival-guide

https://skillcrush.com/blog/land-junior-web-developer-job/

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