Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Strategies for Finding Your First Job in Web Development
5 min read
Struggling to get your foot in the door to start your Web Development career?
Less than a year ago I was in the same spot.
Two years into switching careers from being a personal trainer I was unsuccessful in finding even 1 company to take a bet on me.
Juggling work and raising 3 kids - it was beginning to feel impossible.
Finally, I was hired for my first role in 2022!
It can be daunting navigating the job market and a job in itself.
Not only are we up against seasoned professionals but there have been massive layoffs throughout the industry.
What if I told you there are still more jobs in tech than good devs to fill them?
FAANG are not the only companies out there.
What I've learned is with the right strategies, you can still stand out, get past the gatekeepers, and land your first job.
You just need the right approach.
Do Your Research
"If you're just pressing apply, you might as well throw it in the trash."
Most people are just pressing apply and moving on with their lives.
Want to stick out? Don't be like most people.
If you fail to do research you won't be prepared and the hiring team will know.
Learn about the company you're applying to. Keep a simple record in Notion or Google sheets.
What do they do?
What is their mission?
What about their culture?
Know this information before even speaking with a recruiter. Refer to it in your Cover Letter.
(You are uploading Cover Letters, right?)
Research current trends in Web Development - keep up to date with a general knowledge of the latest technologies.
Having this background knowledge will help you stand out and give you an "edge" in interviews.
Need help with that? Follow me on Twitter. I write about the best content and people in Web Development to help you filter the noise, get a job, or start your own business.
Networking is the Secret Sauce
If you're busting your ass looking for a job and not networking, it's time to have a talk.
85% of jobs are acquired through networking.
The majority of them are never even posted online 🤯
Almost always, they're filled internally or through a referral. This is what makes networking so powerful.
Get involved with the community by:
joining online forums and Discords
being active on social media and interacting with other developers (more on this)
Building relationships with other developers can often lead to job referrals and insider information on upcoming openings.
There's a major incentive to refer you as referrals are often paid!
Pro Tip: No one is going to refer you if they don't know you.
Get out there and make some friends!
I've had a lot of success with this by talking about my journey online and sharing what I learned along the way. It was scary, but the more I shared the easier it became.
Something I majorly love about the dev community is how welcoming and supportive most people are.
"...introversion isn't about being anti-social. Being social is a skill, not a personality trait, yet people hide behind their 'introverted' identity to avoid the unavoidable discomfort required to see any form of success."
Good. That means you really needed to hear this.
As an introvert who spent 30 years of my life painfully shy and hiding from anyone new, I promise you can learn how to be more social without sacrificing who you are.
You can also really lean into this next strategy.
Update Your Online Presence
How people see you online can make or break your job search.
Make sure your:
LinkedIn profile is up to date
portfolio website is well-designed
best projects are showcased
It's a good idea to Google yourself. What pops up? If it's anything you wouldn't want an employer to see there are steps you can take to remove those things online.
Unless it's your criminal record.
You probably shouldn't have gone full Karen on the pet store employee. We live and we learn.
And please, keep your accounts professional.
Have a spicy Twitter account?
Time to make a new one - don't forget to switch your phone number over.
Some employers may search your number directly from your resume and find your hot takes on Nikki Minaj's 'WAP'.
Always assume employers will check your socials to get a better sense of who you are and how you communicate.
Your socials are potentially a goldmine for networking as well so don't overlook the power of cultivating your image online. Twitter is epic for this.
And while you're at it, take "aspiring" out of your bio.
You're not aspiring.
You're a developer even if you haven't landed that first job, yet.
Put some respect on your title!
Saying the job search can be a long and difficult process is an understatement.
There will be days when you feel like it's never going to work out and that's completely normal.
Don't give up if you don't hear back from employers immediately.
Follow up with a polite email or phone call after you apply, and follow up again if there's been no response.
Remember that record you're keeping in Notion or Google Sheets? Use this to track your follow-ups.
Showing that you're dedicated and persistent can go a long way toward demonstrating you really want to work there and are the right person for the job.
Finding your dream job in web development is possible - it just takes some research, networking, and persistence.
With the right strategies, you can get past the gatekeepers and land your first job as a Web Developer.
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Thank you for reading 🙏