A Developer’s Guide To Getting Hired

During a trip to New Orleans I had an interesting conversation with a transplant from New York. He talked about how differently people communicated with each other and networked in NOLA. It was more about your place in the community and the substance of your character. Whereas in New York you’re a name tied to a product. You were a part of this one gallery. You made that one app and know this venture capitalist who’s angel investing everything thats blowing up lately. The field of Web Development is very much like networking in New York. Who are you? What app have you worked on? And if you aren’t established: well, how do you find yourself relevant? This is something that’s pivotal in career progression.

After speaking with the faculty and several alumni I’ve come to the conclusion that your experience is not a golden ticket. And your lack-there-of is not necessarily a hinderance. I had to ponder this for a bit. What do I personally have going for me that can raise some eyebrows?

  • I’m a part of a very well connected school.
  • I’m learning in-demand tools to build a portfolio.
  • I keep up-to-date with news of any and every trend in my field

Establishing a name for yourself

It’s essential to find your place in the community in order to build yourself out. Do you want to work for a startup? Enterprise? Freelance? What companies inspire you? Building up a resume is the least of your worries. There have been students from previous classes here who received jobs and offers without sending out a single resume. What matters is specifying what section of your field that most interests you and gaining attention. Even a vaguely familiar name or face to a recruiter is important. It sparks an interest.

Getting that spark is a daunting, task but immeasurably important. You have to start somewhere, and you have to genuinely be excited about investing in yourself. My instructor at General Assembly has pointed out to me how important it is to go to meetups and events. Don’t worry if you see a meetup for something and aren’t very familiar with the topic at hand. Look for a scheduled event that is an introduction to the subject or has speakers from the industry. Chances are that several other attendees are in the same inexperienced boat as you. I personally plan to attend every meetup I can if it’s relevant to something I want to learn or better understand. I’ve been told that some companies actually give out information on what they’re looking for and how to contact them!

If you want to seem a little more competent in striking up conversation then do some research beforehand to at least know the basic concepts and buzzwords. Follow some blogs or people that are very active in the field and then follow who they follow. Pay attention to unfamiliar words or concepts they use and be able to broadly define them. Read the articles they read. Companies are always attending meetups to find dedicated people. meetup.com is a great resource for getting connected.

Reach Out ASAP

Never sleep on an opportunity. Talk to anyone and everyone you can in the field. I got some excellent advice from some very kind Alumni to just find a company you like and make some calls. Even if they aren’t hiring, you can call or email developers expressing your interest. Try and arrange something with them to discuss the company or pick their brain a bit. This could get your name out there and at the top of their list for future job candidates. It also helps to get comfortable discussing the topics you’re interested in at a business/professional level. One of the co-founders of Clique spoke to my class today and that really helped me level out what companies might be looking for in a developer and how their workflow goes. It reinforced the benefit of getting out there and striking up conversations with anyone who’s willing.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by and endless supply of talented and resourceful people and it drives me to improve each and every day. I’ll be attending my first ever hack-a-thon tonight here in Chicago! No idea what to expect, but I’m counting down the minutes.