Web development is still a lucrative career in 2020. More companies are realizing the need for an online presence and are investing in websites hence creating more web developer jobs.
You have taken your time to learn how to code but you are struggling to get your first gig as a web developer. Job searching as a junior web developer can easily turn into a frustration if you do not know what to look for, what to accept and what to reject.
As a junior developer, your easiest point of entry is in web development.
You will start by building websites for
- businesses and
before you can work your way to a full time developer role at company X.
But more surprising would be to find that even landing that first web developer job with no experience is a real pain in the ass.
In this article I highlight 7 reasons why your job search up to now has not been successful.
These are mistakes that you are probably already making in your developer career that keep you locked out of the opportunities you are actually looking for and in need of.
1. You are not confident
Self confidence is key when you are starting out.
Probably you even feel like you are an impostor when you call yourself a junior web developer.
The truth is that there is no time you will feel completely ready for a job.
In your career as a developer, everyday is a learning opportunity. You will always have to work with new technologies, APIs and you will learn them on the go.
Be confident in your skills.
Your lack of confidence will come out in the way you communicate with your clients, peers or seniors while talking about your competence.
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How do you be confident when you know that there is so much you don’t know yet about what you do?
Every one single senior software developer started out as a junior, just as you are now.
No one single web developer knows all the technologies and frameworks in the world. And when I say ‘know’ I mean that you have built something in it, not that you have heard of it or have some surface level knowledge of it.
2. Nobody knows you
Most junior web developers spend their time honing their skills in the particular stack or language they are studying, thinking that after you are done, your excellent skills should speak for you.
This is where you are wrong.
There is no experience that is of greater value than real world experience
Build software that people are actually using.
So as much as you are studying, your focus should be on how you can then apply this in the real world.
The connections you build with people before you need a developer job will be very helpful in assisting you land your first job.
Don’t wait to make the connections when you are in need, you will end up being pushy and this is a big turn off.
As much it is the truth, people want to feel that the relationship you are building is beneficial both ways before they commit to help you.
Connect with your peer developers who could be in relevant positions to help you when you are in need, long before you need that connection.
Find a coding buddy with whom you can share ideas.
Join local meetup groups in your locality. These meetups are particularly a great place to network and hook up with code monkeys… as well as learn a few ethical hacking skills.
It is at these meetups that you could as well find a software developer who knows a startup that is looking to hire or that might be in need of your services.
3. You don’t have a portfolio
More than a couple of times have I met developers looking for web development gigs without a proper portfolio to show off.
Having a portfolio helps to demonstrate what you are capable of doing.
You’ve probably been told that having a personal domain puts you a mile ahead in your search for clients.
But if your domain is not filled with useful content placed in the right manner, it will be a automatic turn off for the client you are seeking to woo.
If you are venturing into web design, you need a domain.
Your client will ask himself why you want to build a website for others when you don’t even have one for yourself. If you are seeking a real client, outside your inner circle, who is ready to spend money on you, then you need to have a portfolio domain to show off.
When starting out you probably don’t have much money to spare in buying hosting space and a domain.
But remember you are competing against a multitude. There are probably a dozen other developers approaching the same client for the same service you are seeking to offer.
You need to stand out.
4. You apply for jobs through Indeed.com
This is particularly a common career mistake among 90% of junior web developers.
It’s so easy and passive.
The thought of just sitting at your desk, launching your web browser and firing CVs at every job posting in the internet and finally landing a developer job is very exciting!
When you are a junior web developer, you’ll hardly get noticed by applying to jobs purely through the internet from job listing sites like Indeed.com.
Use the job boards to get to know
- what job descriptions look like and
- what technologies are hot in the market.
Most likely, the technologies that are frequently mentioned in the jobs are the trending skills you should focus on acquiring. And that should be it.
Before you begin looking for a developer job with no experience on the internet, start from your connections and friends.
Then expand from inside outwards.
Check with your friends if they could be in need of your services or if they know someone who is hiring. Or better still if they know someone, who knows someone who is hiring.
The job market has become dynamic and companies would prefer to hire someone they can trust.
Having someone who can speak for you and give you a reference helps you pass the ‘vote of no confidence’ test.
Recruiters always have two piles of resumes. The huge bulk received unsolicited from the internet and the smaller pile brought by people they already know and have worked with before.
Breath a sigh of relief if your resume is in the smaller pile.
5. You are too much in love with your stack
Being flexible with the skills you are willing to acquire when starting out will play out to be a key asset in your job search as a junior web developer with no experience.
I wouldn’t recommend being a jack of all trades, because being mediocre would work well against you.
Don’t specialize when you are starting out.
Broaden your net for higher chances of success.
Some people might tell you to narrow your search. To be specific in what you want to work with so that you save yourself a pain. But the truth is you need to be flexible and daring at the start.
Say you only know WordPress then you get a client that already had their website designed in Joomla.
Your client to be is seeking to integrate social media feeds on their website. You should be able to take on that client. Both CMS’es are based on PHP. Finding your way around won’t be so hard.
Take it as an opportunity to learn.
But you will need to set a clear time frame that will allow you ample time to learn and build it.
The more you learn the more employable you become and your subsequent job searches won’t be a frustration.
6. You don’t want to give first
How do you feel when you meet a new friend who starts asking for favors from day 1 before you get to benefit by anything form them?
Or before you get to establish that they have actually helped other people before? You need to give away a couple of your efforts for free before you can receive.
As a junior web developer with no experience take some time and build something for free e.g. a WordPress plugin or contribute to an open source project. It much depends on where your expertise is.
In whichever software skills, language or development framework you are good in, find a way to serve the community somehow with it.
I recommend building a simple plugin, widget, library, package or a simple application that solves some problem people face everyday. That way you can be sure to get people to use it who will later give you feedback.
These little acts will get you in front of potential clients who didn’t care or know anything about you before.
Let your generosity and passion speak for you.
Building these open source projects will also bring you into the radar of people who might want to collaborate with you in their projects.
You have to attack your job search as a software developer from all corners and angles.
7. You don’t have a plan
Your job search might have reached a dead end because you probably should not be looking for a job in the first place.
Job hunting might seem exciting and inviting.
If NOT done at the right time and in the right manner, it could turn into a frustrating ordeal with not end in sight.
This might even hurt your future chances with your searches.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Developing career goals and returning to them over time will pay you back in the long term.
There is a
- a time to study,
- a time to network and
- a time to go out and look.
- a time for training for new skills
You probably could be networking while studying.
However, spare your job search for a time when your skills are well baked and your network well wired.
You do it too soon and you hurt chances of benefiting from your connections in the future when the time is right.
Focus on forming relationships as opposed to simply piling 3000 business cards on you desk and never getting in touch.
Get a career planner and let your actions be guided by a clear road-map.
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What has your job search been like? Please share the challenges you faced in the comment below.