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Dealing with Rejection as a Self-Taught Dev

connorgladwin profile image Connor Gladwin ・2 min read

The field of software and web development is one of the few in which a person can join, and even thrive with only self-taught knowledge. There is no shortage of success stories to prove that this is true. But even though there are these success stories, the sad reality is that there are far more where failure is a constant.

When asking those that have succeeded how they did it, the most common thread is that it's a numbers game, throw enough at the wall and something is bound to stick, another is that they were able to get the ear of a dev or hiring manager at a certain company and that was their way of getting their foot in the door. I'm not trying to dismiss these, or deny that they are viable ways of getting into the industry, but they are far harder than they're made out to be.

For most who are in a position similar to mine, rejection is a common occurrence. We've played the numbers game, we've spoken to recruiters and other devs, but the prevailing answer at the end of the day is this: "You don't have the level of experience that we're looking for."

This line of reasoning becomes a vicious circle of "I don't have enough experience to get a job but I need experience to get a job but I don't have enough experience to get a job etc...". And so, the rejection continues. This rejection comes in another form, which is no answer whatsoever, you send through your CV in eloquent and well thought out email and after weeks of waiting nothing comes back. This, in my opinion, is the worst.

The rejection hurts. The resulting headspace is one of a deep demotivation and reconsideration whether all of the time and effort you've sunk into learning this new craft was worth it. If you're worth it.

I can only speak for myself here, but I have applied for, through the most popular job search platforms available to me, over 100 jobs, and I have managed to get two positive responses: a phone screen and a tech interview. Both unsuccessful because I was too too junior.

The way I personally handle these feelings, and motivate myself to keep going is this, a single sentence: "I'm better than this". In the grand scheme of things this is just a tiny blip on the timeline that is my career, and I will overcome it. I remind myself of the success stories, and of my love of creating things, because no matter what, I still sit down and write code and keep learning whenever I have the time to. And you should too.

Another way to keep yourself up is to learn something new, find a new technology that excites you and build something. You can even go as far as starting to contribute to an open source project. Even if its something that the market isn't looking for in a candidate, do it for yourself.

Never stop looking for opportunities, because you only lose if you stop playing the game.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Agreed what does not break you makes you stronger.