How To Stand Out As A Developer In Your Job Search
Finding your first developer job is a difficult task. First of all, it is challenging because of the number of candidates you are competing with. Secondly, there are the high requirements from the job descriptions.
However, there are ways you can make it less challenging and improve your chances of getting a job. Thus, in this article, you are going to see how to do that.
I want to mention that the advice from the article is not mandatory. Do you have to do them? Absolutely not. Do they help? Absolutely yes. Everyone has different circumstances, and not everyone can do all the things. Use common sense.
Create a GitHub account
The chances are that you already have a GitHub account. If not, I highly recommend you to open an account. However, there is more than merely having a GitHub account. Many developers have a Github account without a profile picture, with incomplete projects or with no projects. I want to emphasize that having a GitHub account, with projects, is not mandatory after a while in the industry. Nevertheless, it can help a lot when you are trying to enter the industry.
Thus, let us see how can you improve your GitHub profile. You can do the following things:
- add a profile picture (preferably one with your face)
- remove incomplete projects (or if you can justify them, leave them. For instance, you wanted to learn a concept, and you did. Thus, there was no point to complete the project anymore)
- only publish complete projects
- use branches to add different features (you show that you understand branching)
- use meaningful commit messages
- add information in the README on how to run and test your project
- add a preview link in the README (most people are looking at the application, rather than the code)
Why should I do all of this? Having only complete projects proves that you can commit to finishing things. It also demonstrates that you know how to use Git, and you understand concepts as branching.
The essential point is that potential employers can see what you are working on or what you built in the past. A GitHub account is like a portfolio for a developer.
Improve your README
Another thing which I see that is missing from many GitHub profiles (mine included) are properly written README descriptions. First of all, you should write a short description of the project. What is its purpose? How to run it? How to test it?
Additionally, you can add extra information if you want. For example, what you did and why you did it that way. Or, perhaps, you can save that information for a blog article.
However, it is essential to include a preview link to your application, if possible. It is not only the developers that look at your profile. Recruiters look at your profile too, which are more interested in seeing how the application looks, and works. They might not even look at the code due to time or knowledge constraints.
What are the takeaways from this part? An active Github profile, with complete projects, shows that you can:
- collaborate with other people
- take initiative
- complete projects
- use Git
- deploy code
- the quality of your code
A Github profile, with complete projects, can be more valuable than a resume.
Open a blog
Another useful thing is to document your journey and projects. If you learn new things, why not share them with other people? By doing so, you deepen your knowledge, and other people might learn something new as well. There is an excellent quote by Joseph Joubert regarding teaching:
To teach is to learn twice.
The reason you deepen your knowledge is that it takes you out of your comfort zone, and you have to research a lot when you write an article. Besides that, if you run into the same problems again in the future, you can come back to the articles and see how you fixed them. Moreover, you demonstrate to prospective employers that you can communicate.
Another point I want to touch on is the blog metrics. Do not be bothered by visitors and your blog performance. At least not in the beginning. In the beginning, your sole purpose is to document your journey and to deepen your knowledge. If others learn from you, that is a bonus. Though, if you are consistent, people will find your blog and read your articles.
But now there is another question - what should you write about. Have a look at two title suggestions:
- How I solved [insert problem] or Solution for [insert problem]
- Today I learnt about [insert subject] or Learn about [insert subject]
Another question is - what platform should I use? There are many platforms you can use. However, if you want to focus only on the content, and nothing else, I recommend HashNode. They are inclusive, and a very welcoming community.
In the beginning, your sole purpose is to document your journey. Therefore, that is all about blogging. Do not underestimate the benefits of having a simple blog. You do not have to write ten articles every week, writing one or two articles every week is sufficient. Once again, it is not a requirement, but it does help if you have one.
In any job, you are working in a team. Thus, knowing how to work with other people, and being able to do so, it is essential. To demonstrate that, you can pair with other people to work on the same project. Even if it is only two of you, it helps. You want to demonstrate you can work in a team.
Also, if it is a bigger group, try to lead the group. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to work in a group and to lead a group, if possible. In almost all the interviews, they asked me about my group projects.
Therefore, these are some steps you could take:
- Find a person or more
- Decide on a project
- Upload the project on GitHub
- Start working on it
- Lead a project in turns (each person leads a project)
Building projects with other people is going to help everyone involved significantly. Not to mention that it is a lot more fun.
There is a quote saying "it is who you know, rather than what you know", which is, more or less, true. Be aware, the main point of networking is not to benefit off someone and to get something. The main point of networking is to meet new people and create genuine friendships.
However, meeting people and create genuine friendships can bring you opportunities as well. For instance, when you are looking for work, a friend can refer you to their company. A referral is more likely to get you an interview than a typical application through the company's website.
Though do not forget to pay it forward when the tables turn. If you are in a position where you can help others, do it. It is a nice feeling when you are helped, but it is an even better feeling when you can help others.
Once again, it is not mandatory to follow the advice from the article. However, if you do, it is going to help you, and make you stand out in your job applications.
Thus, some of the things you can do to improve your chances of landing a developer job are:
- Open a blog
- Take care of your GitHub profile
- Build some projects with other people
- Network. Meet other people
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