Land Your Developer Role!
You're now ready to find a job - follow the steps below to knock the socks off your prospective employers and land a dev job today!
The first section pertains to the minimum contents that you will ideally have covered before prospective employers will take you seriously as a candidate.
Following is two separate checklists; one for Frontend roles and another for Backend roles. If you're looking at a Fullstack role, then ideally you will have checked off more than 90% of the requirements from each.
GitHub is perhaps going to be your most important online network presence. It's a great place to portray your skillset and employers will definitely be looking here first.
The recipe for success on your Github page is 4 part:
- Regular contributions — From the minute you start working on your projects, you ideally need to be making a minimum of 1 commit per day. It doesn't really matter if it's just adding a commented line, make the commit. Check out the Github GUI if you’re afraid of Git in the terminal.
- Three Pinned Project — These should be your primary projects, ideally on display in your portfolio too. It's great if these projects demonstrate different skillsets and combined, cover a wide array of tech. I like the following combo; a frontend framework + API project, an e-commerce project, and a full stack project with auth and a database.
- Readme.md files — These need to be pretty immaculate. A text explanation / the purpose and intention behind the project, problems you encountered, how you fixed them, and everything in-between. Each should also contain an abstract at the beginning that summarises the project and the technology! The format should be: Abstract, Introduction to the problem, why you want to fix it, how you’re going to fix it *tech used*, any issues you encountered along the way, overall reflection, link to live project.
- A friendly and professional picture and bio stating the same as your portfolio does above; your personality, pursuits & endeavours, and a link to your portfolio webpage and LinkedIn.
As above, a friendly yet professional image is paramount, and same goes for your bio (links to Github page and web portfolio also).
- Your title should state “Full Stack Developer”, or whatever it is that you’re aiming to become.
- You cover photo should be something visually aesthetic, that is also special to you. Think of it as a wall-paper for your page.
- You need to fill out your prior work experience and provide some detail on how any of the roles you have helped historically have developed your communication, team working, self-management and problem solving skills.
- You need to complete the education section as above.
- You need to add your list of tech skills to the skills section — if you can, try complete the quizzes they have to gain a badge for that skill.
- Links to your main active projects and portfolio.
Your portfolio is a great place to really bring all your assets together. You can really personalize it to express yourself and put your best foot forward. Ideally a portfolio has a nice and simple intro page and clear links to your subpages/sub-sections, and also your other socials (LinkedIn & GitHub).
There are two essential sub-sections; one is a portfolio page that displays all your of your projects (3 is the perfect number). You'll want to have links to the GitHub code and the live demo for each of them. The second is an experience page that breaks down all of your prior work experience and how it contributes to your hardcore developer skills.
Best if you can acquire a SSL protected domain for your portfolio :)
Your choice of projects partially depends on what type of role you're looking for: Frontend, Backend or Full Stack.
Select 3 from the below choices depending on what your end goal is; selecting a project will take you to a YouTube tutorial that will get you started:
Full Stack Project Recommendations
- An E-Commerce Store in Next.js + Stripe + TailwindCSS
- A Full SEN Stack Project (Svelte, Express, Node.js)
- A Node.js + HTML + CSS + Firebase Full Stack Poll App
Frontend Project Recommendations
- A Data Visualisation Website (that consumes a data API and presents metrics that the user can interact with, for example a Covid Stats Website).
- A React app that consumes an API, displays data, and has a responsive design.
- Build a React web portfolio that is designed by AI
Backend Project Recommendations
Resume / Cover Letter
All you need to know for your Resume is right here:
And for your Cover Letters:
Job specific cover letters, for free, in seconds.
Now it's time to apply for some jobs; but where should you look? I found that there are four types of platforms worthy of your time and energy:
- The first place is LinkedIn; LinkedIn gets a high volume of applicants but it also has an absolutely goliath quantity of postings - definitely worth 1 or 2 applications per day (or as many as you can while ensuring the quality of each application is still high).
- The second place is the generic job post/board local to your area; in New Zealand it is http://www.seek.co.nz, and in Canada it is https://ca.indeed.com. Some of these may work in your area (like Indeed).
- The third is smaller, more niche job boards such as Angellist/Wellfound;https://angel.co/. If you can find these niche boards you can get quite a good response rate.
- And finally we have intermediary recruiter sites such as Hatchways.
Some other examples are StackOverflow & Indiehackers.
It's worth having a look at all of them and between the lot, you should be hearing back from prospective employers in no time.
This section will be your magical best friend!
Networking is a phenomal way to increase your odds in the job market. There are a number of different ways that professional networking can be leveraged during your job hunt. My favorite ways are as follows:
The first way is to find people who work for companies you like, in roles that you desire; this might be done on LinkedIn. I had a fair amount of success sending connection requests to people with a small note attached that said something like -
I hope this message finds you well.
I am reaching out as your professional experience really caught my eye. I was wondering if you might be open to having a short informational interview with me? I would love to hear more about your story.
These informational interviews are amazing as they can help you understand what skills are needed for the jobs you want, perhaps they can offer some feedback on your projects, and help you build connections with important people (if they like you, they might offer you a referral); it's basically a free interview.
The second piece is equally critical and should be part of your Job Application process. The strategy is; for every job application you submit, you want to find either the job poster, or someone working for that company in a related role (the more senior the better, and I often find LinkedIn good for this search), and send them the following message -
I hope this message finds you well.
I just noticed your job posting for a [insert_job_posting_title] and as a seasoned [insert_your_relevant_role_experience], I feel I would be a great fit for the role.
I'd love to connect and chat about the opportunity.
Once again, if they respond, it's basically a free interview; a lot of the application process is just getting the hiring team to meet you and see more than just a resume on a screen.
These two steps can be paramount in helping you land a dev role.
In this section I just wanted to speak to one skill in particular -
In a world where hundreds of other applicants can probably code just as well as you, have a portfolio of projects, perhaps even more university experience, communication is your single biggest weapon. As far as coding ability goes, employers just want to know that you can code. The person who gets the job however, is often the one who they want to work with the most.
It’s absolutely critical that you’re polite in success, AND IN REJECTION. You cannot hand out enough “Thank you for this opportunity” and “I hope you’re having a nice week”. Friendly sentences, even a smiley face emoji makes a significant difference in displaying your personal affect. If you’re friendly, warm, and maybe a bit of fun, that’s how you’ll land your job. The other critical piece here is that you have to be able to receive feedback. It doesn’t matter how critical or how incorrect/unjustified you might feel it is; be appreciative. Say thank you. Be open minded to their words, acknowledge them, take them on board.
You’re an inexperienced developer and you’re going to be receiving a lot of feedback so it’s vital that you’re humble and you take it like a champ! I cannot emphasize enough, every email and message should have some form of positivity. I like the template:
I hope you're having a great start to the week :)
I wanted to say thank you for your time today. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to get to ......
The Last Step
Be patient. Be persistent. Grow.
If you experience a rejection, take your worst project, and replace it with a new project that’s better than the rest. And when you land your job, you’ll know so much that you’ll hit the ground running and you’ll never look back.