Being active in the community, people often ask me for help in their job search.
Can you help me find my first developer job?
People struggling to find their first developer job, often miss going through some fundamental steps, and the most severe cases miss all of them.
But even as an experienced developer, you might want to improve on some of them, especially when the job market is changing or you want to go on the exploration tour again. And if you want to set yourself up for the best.
(from most important to less important)
- missing/invisible portfolio
- missing to communicate intention
- missing usable portfolio product
- missing team and work experience
- missing communication experience
- missing strategy for applications and job search
- missing brand and USP
- missing time
- missing location benefits
The first thing a potential employer needs to see is an overview of your projects. If you don't have one it probably means you haven't set it up yet, but most importantly, you probably don't have meaningful projects yet.
Working on projects that have 1 or more users will give you the biggest boost. It can be either your side projects or open source! You decide.
Once you have a portfolio, it needs to show your focus and your most stellar projects.
I know there's an awful lot to learn and to be excited about in the tech industry. But if your profile lists data science, Ruby on Rails, blockchain and Machine Learning as your skillset, I think your first bet would be to decide on one of the many things you are pursuing and stick with that one thing for a while.
Create a roadmap to focus 100% on it. Make also clear in your profile that this is the only type of engineer you are at the moment.
missing to communicate intention
There must be a reason why you are taking your next step. Why you chose this company to spend your time on. Where and why you want to improve the most in the next time. Imagine you'd be hiring someone, you will want to know the drivers of this person to be able to trust them.
missing team and work experience
OK, it's your first job. But you can get real-world experience before getting employed and sometimes this is the only way to get into the tech industry.
You will need to find relevant living open-source projects with a considerable community in the focus area that you've decided on in the previous step and give it a lot of attention, making good contributions and communicating with real developers (getting mentorship from them at the same time as a byproduct).
missing community and guidance
There are tons of welcoming communities to get you started and startled by your favorite technology. Here you'll find a couple of examples for ruby:
Contributing there and being a valuable member of those will be crucial for you to get guidance and mentoring.
missing communication experience
Employers are really keen on a dynamic and alive style of communication, making sure you don't disappear for 2 weeks if you hit a problem.
You can show your style of communication (and practice it at the same time) if you share what you've learned publicly and practice communication in your side (open-source) projects.
missing strategy and tactics for applications and job search
Your strategy should define your purpose and goal.
Your tactics can be divided into 3 categories: passive search, active search, and networking. There are different job searching platforms and different ways to tackle them:
missing brand and USP
What will make you stand out is a certain way of communication, a particular focus on a methodology or framework, and showing what you stand for in one sentence or two. If you can formulate how you provide value to potential employers, you will be ahead of 95% first-job-seekers.
A lot of times, you will have a non-developer full-time job and are looking for a remote developer job. You need to calculate well and make time every day despite being pressured on time.
missing location benefits
Once you are not from North America or Europe it's more difficult to get a job with companies there. I think going freelance is the best bet if you are looking for a remote job in a developing country.