The job market in software development and IT has been flourishing for nearly a decade now. And with rapid growth in machine learning technologies and growing demand for new and innovative software solutions across the globe, the demand for IT professionals— particularly software engineer and developer roles— will continue to rise. The increasing digital transformation across all sectors in the U.S has already created a tech talent shortage today. As such, organizations are increasingly facing considerable difficulties finding reliable and dependable IT talent to fill their positions.
Now, that should tell you that your IT and software development skills are needed out there. However, you should know that not every software development job is right for you. Plus, you aren’t the only one trying to find a job in the IT industry: there are tens of thousands of candidates vying for the available positions.
While the IT industry may be flourishing— and there’s a skills shortage in the market—you still have to put in the work and make yourself stand out. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you find your first role as a developer:
Consider Continuing Education
The technical skills and expertise you possess today may as well become obsolete in a few months or years if you don’t stay up-to-date with best development practices. And no employer would be interested in hiring someone whose skills are outdated. It’s crucial that you regularly assess your technical skills and abilities to not only know the kind of jobs that may be a good match but also so you can determine which areas you need to improve on to remain competitive in your field.
There are many ways to continuously learn and educate yourself as a developer. A 2019 Stack Overflow Survey found that nearly 87 percent of developers managed to learn a new language and teach themselves how to use a technology framework through self-education. Teach yourself new tech trends such as DevOps, cloud security, Git, machine learning, Docker and Kubernetes, etc. to strengthen your knowledge. There are plenty of DevOps online courses to choose from. Other ways to learn include enrolling in both online and in-person training courses, undertaking certification programs, participating in coding competitions, and contributing to open-source software.
Build a Meaningful Resume and Portfolio
Most organizations today aren’t interested so much in how or where you learned how to write code. Therefore, you shouldn’t disqualify yourself on the basis of your personal or educational background. Instead, you need to examine whether or not you’re ready to apply for a software developer job. Are you confident that you can do the job? If yes, what do you have that illustrates your skills and abilities?
You need to demonstrate to potential employers that you have a solid foundation in the basic concepts of IT and computer science. And this is why building a resume and portfolio is very important. Your resume is like your elevator pitch, so make it short, concise, and easy to read. Curate it to focus on the points or areas of expertise you want to drive home. Also, resist the urge to use buzzwords or write long, drawn-out essays in your resume.
It’s also important that you build a simple portfolio site where you can showcase some of your most impressive projects as well as your elevator pitch and contact information. If you’re a new graduate and don’t have any relevant experience, don’t stress about showcasing previous work (which doesn’t exist yet). Instead, focus on open-source projects you might have contributed or are currently contributing to. You just need to demonstrate that you’re capable of doing things in practice.
Ask any experienced software developer and they’ll tell you some of the best jobs in the IT industry are rarely posted online or even advertised on company websites. Instead, those positions are filled through internal referrals. So, while sending your application to advertised positions isn’t really a lost cause, the most effective way to get yourself before an interview panel is through a referral. But this will only work if you let your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances know what kind of job you’re looking for.
Attending coding competitions, conferences, in-person meetups, hackathons, and job fairs in your area is another great way to not only build your network but also connect with potential employers. Sign up on Linked In and join relevant groups to network with other developers as well.
Work with a Recruiter
As mentioned, there’s a huge number of IT professionals vying for the available jobs online. On the other hand, organizations are increasingly becoming highly selective when recruiting tech talent. It’s not uncommon for new developers to send out dozens of cold emails or make hundreds of job applications and still not land their dream job.
The truth is that job hunting— particularly in the highly competitive IT sector— can be a frustrating and long experience. However, if you’re a beginner who’s just starting out, working with a tech recruiter can help you land your first role and get unstuck.
Take the time to search for recruiters from social media, message boards, business news stories, industry groups, and online directories. You could also ask your friends for any recommendations. And once you’ve found the right recruiting agency, be sure to set expectations about what exactly you’re looking for in your ideal job. It’s important that you’re available and responsive when your recruiter contacts you, sends an email or leaves you a message.
Let Every Interview be a Learning Experience
Chances are you’ll start being invited for initial interviews and technical interviews as you begin sending out applications and your referrals forward your contact details to potential employers. Keep in mind that the purpose of an interview is to weed out candidates for various reasons.
Be honest about your expertise and abilities and, if possible, do a mock interview with someone you trust to get yourself together. You want to practice and prepare for each interview stage as this will greatly increase your chances of moving forward.
Online platforms such as TopCoder and Cracking the Coding Interview offer basic challenges that can help you dial in your skills. It’s also crucial that you research the company to understand the team you’re just about to join. And if you’re not hired by the company, treat the process you’ve been through as a learning experience. Get better for the next interview and you’ll soon land your dream job.