7 Things You Can Do Today to Help Land Your First Tech Job
Even in an industry as hot as tech, which has roughly 500,000 job openings nationwide (a number that is only expected to grow), we understand that it can still be a little daunting to seek out your first job.
BoiseCodeWorks prides itself on doing everything possible to prepare our students for their first leap into the industry. We take a number of measures to do so for all our students, from interview prep, to resumé guidance, to networking events, but we wanted to share a few simple, concrete steps that anyone can take.
1. Build up your GitHub profile.
GitHub has quickly become an incredibly important resource for developers to showcase their work. Many hiring managers will review GitHub accounts to get a sense of candidates’ technical talent, and your profile can also be indicative of other important factors, like your ability to collaborate well with others. If you’re new to GitHub, here’s a quick primer.
“Yes, having a GitHub account can be the difference between candidates. If I see you regularly writing code, especially contributing to open-source projects I think are cool/useful, I’m much more inclined to give someone with lesser experience the benefit of the doubt.” — Randy Zwitch, Data Scientist at Comcast
2. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to your advantage.
Although it’s possible that simply adding your skills to LinkedIn will get you approached by recruiters, we recommend a more proactive approach. The same goes for Twitter. It might sound counter-intuitive, but it can help to be shameless when it comes to reaching out to people or organizations that you’re interested in. As long as you stay respectful and professional, we’ve found that almost everyone will respond positively to a mention in a tweet or a LinkedIn connection request.
3. RSVP for a Meetup. We know networking can be rough, but it’s worth it.
Don’t be afraid to attend tech or startup-oriented meetups. BoiseCodeWorks just launched a sister-site called CodeBoise that lists tech events in the Treasure Valley (anyone can add their own events for free). Some say it’s best to attend as many meetings as possible, but we recommend limiting it to the events that you are genuinely interested in. You’ll make friends that share your interests, and job opportunities will likely come organically (and there will be less painful small talk).
4. Ask someone to meet with you for 20 minutes.
Again, shamelessness and persistence can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your dream employer(s), even if you feel wholly inadequate. Making that personal connection is the first step. Be polite and honest about your abilities, then just ask them to join you for coffee — you might be surprised at how willing people will be to chat with you.
5. Start blogging.
Blogging (if done well) can have several benefits. For one, it can require you to do a fair amount of research to make sure your posts are accurate, so you’ll learn a lot. It also shows potential employers that you are passionate about this new field — passionate enough to put your name out there and express your thoughts publicly.
6. Don’t get stuck on Craigslist.
Craigslist, Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster…. they have their place. But there are some pretty cool resources out there you might not have heard of. CrunchBoard can be great for programmers and developers,and Coroflot is awesome for designers. We also recommend checking out Stack Overflow. They have great job listings, and if you really want to get involved, you can post your own questions and answers on tech forums.
Also, don’t forget about your local resources. Many cities have location-specific newsletters for job openings, and even your Chamber of Commerce might have a helpful job board.
7. Build something!
We’ve seen this work many, many times. By going through the process of building a relatively simple website or application, employers can learn a lot about how you think and what your skills are. It also displays your commitment to learning about your new craft, and it gives mentors/employers a framework for instructing you as your skills develop.
Regardless of which steps you follow, stay confident, persistent and patient, and good things will happen! Don’t be deterred by rejections, by being ignored, or by a negative comment on a blog post. It can take courage to jump into a new field, but we strongly believe you’ll be glad you did.