As an entry-level developer, landing your first job in the tech industry can be challenging. You might even begin thinking of how you can rise above a large number of other professional developers as the demand for developers is rapidly increasing in many companies. If you want to stand out, you will have to carry out some strategic planning.
According to the contribution made by some tech recruiters and candidates with similar experiences to yours, here are the basic steps you can take to stand out and have the possibility of landing a job as a developer at entry-level:
Keep Practicing and Building
Becoming a successful software developer takes continuous studying. You should do more practice and work on new projects even when searching for jobs. You need to gain more knowledge and step up the skills you have to win more coding interviews when proving your skills through the tests or assessments given.
Sometimes, securing a job can be easier than done for highly qualified candidates. Thus, you should have devoted time to learn new things and work on new projects as an entry-level candidate.
Get updated with new languages, frameworks, and tools, and learn how to use them. As you are doing more projects and learning independently, you will find new ideas to discuss during the interview. You will also help your future team with the skills you have developed.
The project you pick should tie into your interests, and it doesn’t have to be complex. You can build on it when learning different skills. For example, if you love drawing, you can create an app that shows your works. You can even incorporate it into graphic design. With that, interviewers will see your strong interest in this field as you discuss the project during the interview.
Work on Your GitHub Portfolio
Many scholars with little or no work experience in tech do depend on their portfolios to get jobs. For this reason, you can always show your skills and prove that you are on the same level as other qualified developers in your portfolio. With your portfolio, you are already a candidate, even without any industrial work experience.
Carry out new projects on your GitHub page at all times to prove that you are passionate about the industry you have chosen.
More so, include the jobs you have done and the ones you contributed to if it’s teamwork. As you give these details, recruiters will be closer to discerning how best you can solve problems.
Sharpen your Resume
When writing your resume, use job descriptions to fetch ideas on the kind of information you need to include when it comes to describing yourself. With no rush, you will identify some relevant information that you can include in your resume. You carefully notice the patterns used in the job descriptions for a particular position.
List out the most related-to-tech experience at the top of your duties for each role if you have work experience in other fields. Even if it’s a small percentage of your daily responsibility, it will draw recruiters’ attention.
Also, you can create a section on your resume to indicate personal projects, school, or other contributions. It helps hiring managers know that even without formal education, you can still become a software engineer.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has been of great help to many job seekers, and it is more effective than a resume. Most of the jobs gotten today are not on resume reviews but via hiring on LinkedIn.
If you want to optimize your LinkedIn profile for a job search, here are the steps to follow:
Use the “About” (Summary) section to describe yourself as an individual and a potential worker. In this section, include your interests, background, and driving force. You also use the opportunity to write a captivating story about yourself, your abilities, and your reasons for choosing this role even without much work experience.
If you have internships or relevant work history in other fields, describe in full detail your responsibilities in each position. Spell out your exact role and job titles for each company for interviewers to know your job position without guessing and understand what you have done. For example, suppose you have a software development internship in a particular industry. In that case, you should show the programming language you used.
In the “Skills” section, you can input your pre-selected skills to your profile. Many recruiters do search for candidates according to the skills they have on their LinkedIn profile.
Under the “Licences and Certifications” section, add the certifications or any credit you have earned so far. While under the “Education” section, highlight the course you took in a particular language if you don’t have professional programming experience.
Connect with other people (a professor, colleague, or previous supervisor) and ask them for recommendations. They should always have something to say concerning their experience working with you. It is the best way of showing recruiters your dedication, strengths, skills, and work ethic. As the recruiters view your curiosity and toughness through a recommendation from your previous supervisor, or they see your passion from a colleague’s or a team’s review of you, they can decide to hire you.
Show the skills or companies you are interested in under the “Interests” section for people to see what delights you.
Irrespective of the field, there is a possibility of getting jobs within your network. As you meet more contacts within the company, your chances of finding jobs either through people you know or word-of-mouth become tremendous. There are various ways you can network effectively, they are:
Meeting People via Communities
There are many communities to connect with people worldwide and make jobs search. You will always find a tech group that will provide you job searching resources and other bits of help. Here are some popular communities itemized according to the demographics below:
- For Women:
- Coffee and Coded
- Girls Who Code
- Ladies Get Paid
- Women Techmakers
- Tech Ladies
- For Black Women:
- Black Girls Code
- Black Women Talk Tech
- For Black People:
- Blacks in Technology
- For Latinx People:
- For LGBTQ+ People:
- Lesbians Who Tech
- Out in Tech
Have Friendly Coffee Chats and Don’t Ask for a Job Instantly
In reality, you need to engage in face-to-face networking if you want to be successful. Sometimes, it isn’t enough, even if you have the best GitHub project and the best online presence. Carefully observe the people in your current network and see who will accept your offer to meet for some coffee. Even with your little experience in tech, the people you know can surprise you.
You can also tap into other networks from the people in your current network ─ past managers, colleagues, or professors. This strategy has helped many candidates get jobs.
To begin, search for someone you know through your LinkedIn contacts and see if they are working in the industry you like or presently have the job you choose. You can also check if there’s anyone connected to other people that have criteria similar to yours. If you find one, kindly ask your contact to introduce you to them so you can meet.
However, asking for a job when searching for prospective recruiters or connections is awkward. Note that you are not asking to get jobs. You are searching for people to connect and chat with so that you both can learn tangible things (ideas) from each other.
When reaching out to potential recruiters, your goal should be to learn new and future opportunities through successful connections. Become a potential hire on their radar, so avoid asking for jobs directly.
On the other hand, you can also look for a remote network if you can’t find someone through your current network.
What you will do is send a reasonable message telling them that you are trying to learn more about their company and the work they do while they are out of your network. Tell them you are trying to build your network and are interested to know them more. Then, give an experienced colleague or mentor to review it before you deliver the message to them.
Make your outreach logical by asking a specific question like, “I’m interested in learning more about what it takes to be a developer at (Industry).” With this, it’s more likely you get feedback when they see your passion and purpose in connecting with them.
When they are willing to chat with you, there are some questions you can ask about the particular company or role you want. At least, they should be able to explain:
- Why they join the company
- What kind of problems they solve at the company
- Did their expectations of the company meet their experience so far
- Who their customer base is
- The nature of their day-to-day work
- What they dislike about working in the company
While you are asking these questions, you will have a better understanding of what’s challenging about working in the company.
Make sure you remain unbiased in this process because people have different perspectives. You might luckily meet someone that will make you happy about the work he/she does. You can even connect with someone that will make you conclude that the company isn’t the right one for you. Whichever way it is, know that you can never tell how opportunities will come into your life. Engage in exploratory meet-ups to understand what’s happening outside your network.
Join Several Tech Events
Attending tech events is a natural way of growing your network and connecting with potential recruiters. You can create time for panel conferences, discussions, and seminars. Tech events help to reveal the leads of companies and jobs you want. If you are an introvert, you can bring a friend along if you can’t resist going to tech events alone. You will feel more comfortable going alone after attending a few tech events with a friend.
Be Confident in Who You Are
Understand that your story ─ your passion for the chosen career, personality, and past work experiences matters to hiring managers when you have a limited tech work history. Devote time to create a fascinating story and how to put it into writing.
Before you start, think of your interest in tech, what draws you to this particular role, and why you have chosen to work in this industry. Also, your little work experience in tech does not affect other experiences you have gotten. Most entry-level candidates are nervous to talk about their previous education and work experience.
Many jobs require communication, teamwork, and time management. You have the opportunity to show your school, previous works, and volunteer experiences. Be confident to demonstrate them during interviews or highlight them in your resumes. Besides, most top companies have announced that they are always looking for candidates with soft skills.
Lastly, Don’t Be Knocked Down By Imposters’ Syndromes
Many entry-level candidates feel like they don’t meet up or are not good enough, especially in tech, when they have little or no experience. Some think they will be referred to as fraud if interviewers later find out that they don’t have any work experience. If you know your purpose and care more about what you do, you won’t get tricked easily by imposters.
Well, you may still get worried even if you have gained experience. Try and help yourself out by moving on, and don’t be discouraged. You will eventually find out whether you are still on the same spot or you have made progress.
In most cases, searching for jobs can be stressful and frustrating, and you may want to give up. You may even want to find another job and find something else to do.
Do not relent! Keep going!
Though it will take some time, things will work out successfully in the end. Keep in mind that you likely won’t get your dream job immediately. You will make long-term planning and a few steps throughout your career, which you are just discovering the first step to take now. Be true to yourself and be patient as you are about to search for jobs with reasonable expectations.
These tips provided above will help you get started even though it’s not easy landing your first job as an entry-level engineer. They will guide you, make you feel more confident in yourself, make you have a purpose, and develop connections within and outside your network. Think of this, since many people have applied these tips and it worked out successfully for them, what will be your story?