How To Get Your First Job

as a Web Developer

Your stressing yourself, applying for job after job and no one replies. Your wondering if maybe you should have gone to college and become a lawyer like your Dad told you to..

You don’t have any experience, or so you think.

Tip 1: Web Developers Create. So Get Started.

Quit waiting for somebody else to give you the experience you need to qualify for that job you're about to apply for. Applicants must have 2 to 3 years of professional experience. That’s you buddy!

Get involved on Github if you are not already and publish something. Publish anything. Publish your homework. Publish anything! Don’t waste your time trying to come up with a cool project that people might be interested in, or a new enhancement to someone elses repo.

I might get shot for this but let me make it simple for you.. If your fresh off the shelf brand new and are registering a Github account for the first time think of Github as Dropbox. It’s free online storage for anything you want. The point is, just use it! Don’t think about it.

Its far easier to gain momentum by moving than waiting

Try getting a few contributions on other peoples projects as well. Again, screw trying to come up with a new feature to contribute, it’ll take forever and I guarantee your merge request is going to be rejected just like all those job applications you submitted. Rather, look up some popular projects your already familiar with (have you ever heard of Bootstrap?) check out bugs other people have reported.

Bug fixes is a major responsibility of every developer in the world. I can’t speak for other people but every developer I know works based on a ticketing system (Redmine, Jira, etc..) and a significant part of every day is maintenance and bug fixes so this experience directly correlates to real world experience.

Also, don’t undervalue the social aspect; follow some interesting people and tag your favorite projects with a star. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard employers or recruiters interested in none other than seeing that you follow some interesting people and projects. Validation by association .. I guess :/

You can follow me, I don’t mind ;) and I have a few projects that you’d likely find simple to contribute to.. By all means.

Dedicate some time building up your Github account so it looks active (fake it) and so in the process, the next thing you know, you have become an actively (make it) involved member of the open source community.

Having that experience will make you more valuable as a candidate in the eyes of employers and in reality than the majority of junior candidates with 3–5 years of professional work experience but no real code to show a potential employer. And it will also tell the employer that you are passionate about your skillset and constantly striving to be an expert in your profession.

Tip 2: College is For Dummies

As far as having a degree.. just be glad you didn’t waste your money or time on college! In my experience, no one has ever thought twice or cared in the least about whether or not I had a degree. Do you really want to get your first job as a web developer and hide in a cubicle for 20 years doing something that will make you miserable? Those are the jobs that require you have a college degree.

Any job that you will be glad to gain, will be one that didn’t give a damn that you didn’t go to college. The only thing people care about your code. When they ask for a resume they’re really saying ‘Show me the code’. When they ask for references, they’re really saying ‘Show me some CODE’. When they say they’re going to get back to you.. they’re really saying ‘You better show me some code, and quick!’ And when they say, ‘Show me some code’, congratulations, you’ve got the job!

Personally.. If I were in a position to hire a developer I would be more inclined to hire a good coder with no college education over another candidate with similar skill level and a degree because the guy who never went to school but is able to demonstrate the same competency as someone who had to pay $50k+ to learn it has proven, as soon as they walk in the door, they are a hard worker, dedicated to their craft, and they must love their profession to have taught themselves so much.

Nowhere is this more true than web development because to be a competent developer you must continue your education every day to keep up with changing technologies.. Web development is one of the only professions I know of where you can find an entire culture of people doing what we get paid to do just for fun. The guy who had to go to college to become an expert .. Maybe he is a developer because he figured he’d get a good job and make lots of money or perhaps it just sounded better than being a lawyer. Is he going to keep his education up to date? Is he going to have the passion to do not just mediocracy but the drive to want to create great work? I’m not too sure. But the other guy probably will.

Tip 3: Web Developers Don’t Have Virtues, We Have Addictions

If you aren’t already; get involved on StackOverflow. StackOverflow is hard, yep. StackOverflow is mean, damn right. But points are addictive and StackOverflow has lots of those.

Here’s the plan.. login and answer 1 question per day for 1 month, 7 days a week. I don’t care if its a question somebody asked 5 years ago. If you’ve got an answer that hasn’t already been posted, post it. Your answer should be a complete and thorough response to the question that you can not elaborate on more thoroughly.

I forget where I heard this but somebody told me the tendency of a body in motion is to keep moving; the tendency of a body at rest is to sit still. In other words, it’s a lot less work to keep moving once you have some momentum than it is to start moving when you’re sitting on your ass watching tv.

By the end of the month you’ll have built up a nice ripe addiction and you’ll be well on your way.

Remember these tips.. Don’t be a dick after you get a few thousand points and don’t even ask a question until you have at least 2000 points. That amount of points took me a few months. I can’t remember. I have a pretty bad memory.. I dunno how I ever got anybody to hire me!

Until you’ve got 2000 points your a genius with all the answers readily available for you to figure out on your own. Don’t ask a new question no matter how badly you want to. The people who think StackOverflow sucks are the people that use it just to ask questions because they want other people to learn and think so they don’t have to.

Every question is stupid to someone

StackOverflow does not exist to do your hard work for you. If you can’t intelligently ask a question with details of your efforts then you obviously didn’t try hard enough or its just plain gibberish that’s a mile over your head and why in the world is this guy who doesn’t know the difference between a hashbang and his weewee asking me how to iterate over a multidimensional array in a bash shell.

I’m a jack ass. I’m not sorry. But your welcome to laugh at me.. I do.

Tip 4:

(The secret to StackOverflow.. Don’t tell anybody I told you.. Most answers can be found by searching old questions or in the first page of Google. Shh..)

Tip 5: There’s No Such Thing as a Junior Developer.. Your a Mid-Level Developer Already

{Job Title}, {Company Name} — {Start} / {End}
Replace {Job Title} with the word Contractor or Independent. Replace {Company Name} with the words Various. Replace {Start} with the date you wrote Hello World. Replace {End} with the word Ongoing

Keep that on your resume forever or at least until you find yourself needing to delete something because your resume is about to wrap to the 3rd page. Nobody likes a bragger! 3 pages is a little excessive.

Check out my 3 page resume here if you need an example.

Contemplate all the personal projects you’ve done, all the favor projects for friends, school, whatever.. Whats the difference between that and work? The only difference is you did it in exchange for an IOU or a ‘Thanks’ or for the education you gained why doing the exercise.. all of which are more valuable that $. So put them on your resume!

Tip 5: Hello World!

And last but not least. Remember this .. “Fake it till you make it”. Oh and shameless self promotion doesnt hurt. ;)

If after all that, you still don’t know how to and are unable to get a job. Well, you probably should’ve listened to your Dad.

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