Congrats! You have finished your X-week program and now you’ve been released into the wild to fend for yourself. Of course, you kind of need a job to fend for yourself, so cheers to the beginning of your job hunt.
Job hunting is a full-time job and it can definitely be daunting. I should know, it took me three months of job hunting before I could find a place to call work.
I was fortunate enough to have an amazing mentor/friend during my journey and I encourage you to reach out to old contacts, friends, and family for help, too.
However, if you don’t know anyone, don’t worry. Here are a few tips I’d like to share to help you with your post-bootcamp hustle.
Part One: Getting an Interview
ABC (Always Be Coding)
If you haven’t read this article, go read it now.
It’s really easy to slow down after your immersive program, now that you have all of this free time, but I really encourage you to keep the momentum going and to continue writing code.
Plus, the learning never ends. Try going through more online courses like Codecademy, Code School, Khan Academy, Egghead, etc. I also recommend reading more technical books for things that might not be covered in those courses, like design patterns. If you have time, document your learning in blog posts.
And honestly, a lot of interviewers will ask, “What have you been working on since you finished your program?” So be prepared to talk about something you’ve been working on, whether it’s taking online courses or building something.
Where You Do and Don’t Want to Work
I think it’s important to consider where you want to work and what you want to do. I understand that some people may not care since they’re just trying to get a job ASAP, but if you can, try to think about it.
I knew that I absolutely did not want to work in finTech and I knew that I really wanted to work at a company where their technology was the main product. I also wasn’t really interested in working in a back-end position and I really wanted to work in a front-end position.
These are some of the things that will help you narrow down your list so that you can focus your effort and energy on the companies that you’re really interested in.
It’s okay if you’re not sure now. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted initially, but it became clearer as I talked to more people and companies.
Resumes & Cover Letters
The dreaded resume and cover letter for any job hunt.
I’ve actually grown to really enjoy redoing my resume because I like designing it. If you’re applying to non-corporate jobs, I think it’s okay and even better to have a creative resume. It really stands out among those Microsoft Word resumes. Don’t fret if you’re not good at design, you can still make a pretty swanky resume at Creddle.
However, when it comes to cover letters, I am absolutely awful. I tried my best and wrote a new, specialized cover letter for each job I applied to. I don’t think I got any responses from writing a cover letter (yikes). On the other hand, a fellow Dev Bootcamp graduate of mine, who is an excellent writer, got a lot of interviews from writing them, so it’s worth putting effort into.
At the minimum, you should have a GitHub profile with your projects. Hopefully, your commit messages are better than these, and if not, hopefully the interviewer won’t check your commit history. It’s also good to go back and fill in each project’s README.md with information about the project and how to run it locally.
You probably should consider building a website to brand yourself and showcase your work. You can host your website and most of your projects on GitHub pages for free. Your website can be swanky like my good friend Ricky or simple like mine. The most important part is to make sure you have your projects listed and your contact information.
Yes, you can “spray and pray” your resume to as many online applications as you want, but it’s really not very effective.
In my experience, and from what I’ve heard from my peers, the majority of our interviews come from people we already know or people we meet.
To put this in perspective, I submitted around 20 online applications and out of the eight interviews I had, only one of them came from an online application, while four of them came from people I knew or met.
Get Involved in the Community
So, you tried asking everyone you know if they’re hiring for a junior developer role and you’re out of leads. That’s fine, because there’s a large community out here full of amazing people for you to meet.
I think one of the best ways to meet people is to attend a meetup/event (or even better, give a talk at one of these events). You get to learn more about a certain topic, you get to visit cool companies, there’s free food/drinks, and normally at the end of a meetup, people will make announcements if their company is hiring.
While meetup.com is a solid starting point to find events, there are often location-specific newsletters. If you’re in New York, like me, you can sign up for Gary’s Guide, Digital.NYC, and Inside Startups. There’s also a slack channel.
Twitter is also an amazing tool to find out about events and connect with people in the tech scene. I’ve even gotten an interview from tweeting at someone.
Job fairs are awesome. This is not only a great opportunity for you to make an impression on companies, but it’s also a good way to learn about each company’s culture and values.
Job fairs will generally have a list of attending companies available before the event, so do your research and map out which booths you want to stop by. I should also mention that it’s really important to bring a resume. Each company probably talks to hundreds of people at each event, so it’s unlikely they’ll remember you. Be sure to drop off a resume so that they have a record of talking to you.
Follow Up and Give Thanks!
After every job fair, every interview, every job application, and every coffee/lunch where I get career advice, I always follow up and send a thank you email or sometimes a thank you card depending on the situation.
This is especially important after job fairs, because like I said, they probably talked to hundreds of applicants, so you need to stand out. If you didn’t get their card or email, find them on LinkedIn or Twitter and give them a shout.
While I did not find my job through a recruiter, I had a lot of friends that did. They all found one way quicker than I did, too. The tricky part is that not all of them will have junior positions or some of them are hard to keep in contact with.
Part Two: The Interview
Woo hoo, you got an interview!
Culture is Important
Before I get into the technical parts of an interview, I want to talk about how important culture is. If you haven’t heard, “more than 80 percent of employers worldwide named cultural fit as a top hiring priority.” If they don’t like you, they most likely will not hire you. It also works the other way around. If you don’t like the culture there, don’t feel pressured to take the job.
I think as programming bootcamps get more well-known, companies will have a general idea of what to expect from a graduate’s skills, and let’s be honest, our skills are pretty junior-level. With that in mind, while what we know is kind of important, employers will probably care more about our willingness to learn and how easy we are to work with.
Depending on the company, there may or may not be a phone screening. These calls are generally from someone in HR, but could also be an engineer/developer, who is verifying some information and making sure you’d be a good culture fit.
This phone screen could also include coding challenge done over the phone with some sort of screen sharing app. These are things you should ask and confirm when you’re confirming the interview.
Either before/after the phone interview, the company might send over a coding challenge. To give you some idea of what to expect, I’ve had everything from building a movie CRUD app in Rails, building a movie app in Angular, using the company’s tools, to this. It really depends on the company and what position you’re applying for.
Yay, you’ve finally made it to the in-person interview! If you’ve made it this far, you probably know what you’re doing, so I won’t say too much. There is a good possibility of there being an in-person coding challenge of some sort, but that’s fine, because you’re a rockstar. Just be sure to be humble, sincere, and be willing to admit anything you don’t know.
Be sure to follow up after the phone and in-person interview to thank the person for their time.
Lastly, I have a list of resources here for job boards and interview questions. Hopefully, you’ll find a job soon. Keep your spirits up until then, I’m sending good vibes your way.