Last year some junior developers which I have worked with in the past asked me for some job hunting tips. I decided to post the advice that I gave them to hopefully help somebody else.
Pick Your Target Job
The first of the job hunting tips is to pick your target job. There are so many different types of development jobs out there, pick a job that you feel passionate about or already have some experience in.
Make a Plan
Now that you have picked the development job that you would eventually like to do, start making a learning plan. This might include the following steps:
- Make a list of the development stack that you need to learn. You will have to research this, try stack overflow for instance.
- Make a list of resources to learn about the technologies which make up the development stack. For example books, blogs and online training. A good online training provider is Pluralsight.
- Join a Meetup group where you can learn from people that are already where you want to be. Also you find people in a similar position and you can learn with and support each other.
Execute the Plan
Schedule in some time with a planning tool like Kanban flow or your diary to make time to learn the material. Make it a regular thing in your day so it becomes a habit.
Use you time Effectively
For instance I used to buy technical books and read them in my lunch breaks and spare time. The spare time could be time travelling on public transport, waiting for public transport.
While you are learning, it is a good idea to put into practice what you have learnt. An excellent way to do this is build and example application, that way you will challenge what you think that you know. You also have something to show for it at the end. You can use the same technique to learn in on other development stacks in the future.
Create a stack overflow account and see if there are any questions which you can answer. If you have questions from building an example application, ask them here.
Create yourself a curriculum vitae to highlight your skills and experience. Get other people to proof read it and give you feedback.
Prepare For Techical Interviews
Look for interview questions online and test yourself to see what you do and don’t know. Be patient with yourself and fill the gaps in your knowledge.
Find coding tests on the web and attempt to do the tests, again this will show you what you know and what you don’t know. List what you have struggled with and work to fill the gaps in your knowledge.
Find people who are willing to review your code and tell you how you can improve. Ask people that you know who are already experienced. Or if you don’t know anybody, use online forums. You may find it surprising how willing people are to help. People tend to respond well to enthusiasm.
Also search for common interview questions and practice talking about your experience.
Find job boards and post your CV on the job boards. Schedule in some time each day to search for jobs. Apply for the jobs and keep searching. Eventually you will get an interview, keep practising and preparing.
Technical Screening Test
You will most likely have a technical screening test over the telephone to determine if you should be brought in for a face to face interview. At the end of this take time to note which questions you struggled with and fill the gaps in your knowledge. If you did not succeed, don’t loose heart, keep trying.
Face To Face
In the face to face interview, the interviewers will want to delve deeper into any experience you have and have more technical questions. They will probably give you a timed programming test. This might be sorting algorithms, data structures etc. So make sure you are comfortable implementing these under time pressure.
You will get interviews, some you might fail at, but keep note of this things you fell down on and make sure you fill the gap.
At the end of the day they want to get somebody in with skills that they already have and potentially train you with the ones which you don’t.
Hooray, you have a job offer in a company that you want to work for. All that hard work has payed off, you feel elated and on top of the world. You have achieved your goal.
But what you must realise is that you are embarking on an exciting career. One which is very creative and rewarding. But more importantly you have chosen a career where technology never stands still and you have to be constantly learning and improving. This is what makes a career as a programmer exciting. I wish you the best of luck!
Finding a new job is not always easy, depending on the economic climate that you are in at the time and the skills that have. I hope you found these job hunting tips useful. If you have any other tips that may help other people, please share them below.