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Job Search Update: 😔

James Cox
Software Engineer | JavaScript | Rails | React | Redux | HTML | CSS | Material UI
・2 min read

Context

Last year I wrote a Dev.to post entitled How long did you have to wait?.

I detailed my job application experience at the time, having applied to quite a few roles and receiving literally zero calls. It was a rough time, and I received a lot of great feedback from that article.

Update

Fast-forward to now, 15 months after graduating bootcamp, and still unemployed:

Yesterday I received a rejection email from a company I had been interviewing with for several weeks. This one really stung.

I even tweeted about it and was blessed with an incredible amount of support, feedback, and advice.

This company had reached out to me. They wanted to hire several juniors and thought I would be a great fit. I was very transparent with my experience and they were transparent with their hiring process. I loved the company culture and thought this would be an ideal fit for both them and myself.

I had to create a todo app for a code challenge, and I went above and beyond their criteria. I had so much fun with it, I even put it in my portfolio. Check out The Matrix Todo app here:

The Matrix Todo with the Matrix green scroll code as a background

Yesterday they informed me they wanted more senior developers and that they appreciate my time and effort, but I was no longer in consideration.

Conclusion

Looking for your first developer role can be incredibly stressful. It is a full-time job itself, and in many cases a mentally-draining grind that can often feel like there is no hope.

I want you to know that if you are in a similar situation, I see you. And I am here for you if you need to talk about your experiences or just rant about anything.

This post is meant to both offer insight and support for anyone else struggling to find their first role.

I believe that a big factor in finding your first role is about being in the right place at the right time.

I want to thank everyone who has been so kind and supportive this entire process. Thank you to my community for always being there for me.

If you feel alone, please know you are NOT alone. Reach out to me or someone you trust and I will help you connect with some great people who will embrace your journey and support you however they can.

Let me know in the comments if you have any specific stories or experiences you would like to share. We need to lift each other up in these moments and realize that we are all in this together.

Thank you for reading. Much love and respect ❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏

Discussion (22)

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andersbjorkland profile image
Anders Björkland

Sorry it didn't work out for you with this company. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I'm currently not job hunting. I have however applied for a handful dev roles, gotten interviews with two of them, being offered a job with one. Ultimately I'm not doing that job since it wouldn't fit with my family life. Instead I'm looking at doing freelance.

With that said. From the two interviews I've had I've got the following to say. For the fullstack position I had done relevant projects that I could show. I told them what were their strengths and weaknesses. I didn't get a job offer probably because I didn't have a solid deployment pipeline. Going freelance this is one of the things I'm focusing on nailing. The other was a frontend engineer position doing React. Again I had relevant projects to show where it also was apparent that I could follow mockups. Each application I treated as a study in UX: "how can I get their attention within 5 second and keep it?". When I got to the interviews I treated them as a way to show my co-op skills. I included them in my thinking when solving coding problems. I asked them questions, not only the one posing the question but everyone in the meeting. I think it was these communication "skills" that got me the one job offer.

It sucks that you didn't get this position. Each interview is another experience under your belt. You'll soon be great at them!

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Hi Anders, thanks for your thoughtful response and support! Your perspective about tailoring your projects for the position at hand is something I think about too. In all honesty, I thought I had nailed this aspect! But, it wasn't meant to be, and that's okay.

In general I know that I need to tighten up my featured projects and just keep showing improved skill and overall finished products. It's something I think I will be able to say forever ...

The truth is I have improved since my last post in August. So I am doing the work, and I am getting better. The other stuff that is out of my control, I can't stress over that stuff. Just keep pushing!

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andersbjorkland profile image
Anders Björkland

Yeah you are getting better 💪 getting closer for every application.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Thanks, Anders!

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hasnaindev profile image
Muhammad Hasnain • Edited

I'm a WordPress developer. I started with MERN stack and got my first position as a browser extension developer. I'd say it was my luck because I got job quite easily. React is a newer and hotter toy, everyone is learning it and are expecting to earn big bucks with it. Tons of tutorials are pushing this idea, the hype is real.

Its reality it quite different though. People want to hire React developer but not junior ones. If you try to be clever, they'd say, you have too much abstraction, if you try to get the job done, they'd say why didn't you use redux instead, there is honestly no way you can dodge these because the guy that is interviewing you is probably a guy with 2 years of experience and is on a "senior" position.

My advice would be to not make React your main focus. You have no experience and nobody really wants a zero-experience React developer. Also, check jobs around you too. See what is in demand + doesn't require 6 years of experience.

EDIT: Another practical advice would be that you should focus on one thing! Become an excellent UI developer. You can do that by just building HTML and CSS projects. When you can make amazing designs, you are really good at one thing and people usually want good people even though they might not have "professional experience."

When you can make amazing designs and get into the field, trust me, you can easily transition to React or Vue depending on what your team is using. The biggest regret in my almost 2 year long career is that I jumped into full-stack development instead of being an awesome UI/front-end developer first.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

I love React. But it's not the end-all, be-all for me. In other words, I don't really care as much that the role does or doesn't use React. I have enough understanding of core programming principles that I could honestly move into any tech stack.

I hear what you are saying about not having enough experience seen as a negative. And that's the point isn't it? How do you gain experience without being given the chance to gain experience?

There are a few options: build out something yourself that has real world users. PROVE that you can make something people want to use. Harder said than done. The start-up life is both difficult and a big gamble. But not impossible.

Freelance. Take on small clients and work for very little or nothing in the beginning. Make simple sites for small business etc. This is more or less what I am doing currently (although I lucked into a few paying clients right off the bat). Prove that you know how to manage clients and create value for businesses.

Get an internship or entry into a company via a non-development position. This is something I've looked into as well. MOST of these companies are looking for people with CS degrees, which I do not have. But it is still possible.

The lesson I have learned is you have to be willing and available to do and try lots of avenues to get in.

Thank you for your POV and feedback. It's tough out there and you just have to be willing to experience no after no after no after....

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hasnaindev profile image
Muhammad Hasnain • Edited

You make great points and I understand that it is indeed very difficult. I couldn't agree more when you said, "Build out something yourself that has real world users." I couldn't agree more because that's what you do on the job.

Have you read about the Pot Quality vs Quantity experiment? I think the best way to move forward for any developer is to just start building. Look at a website and just start replicating it from scratch in HTML and CSS and when done, move on to the next one.

This is what I did and it helped me a lot in landing the jobs I talked about. Anyways, thanks a lot and I wish you the best!

EDIT: Quick tip, if you cannot open the medium article, just open it in incognito mode.

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lucasgio profile image
Iosvany Alvarez • Edited

Causally today I received the same result as you I have 3 years of experience but no working for a company instead this I be working in projects at freelance and local business in my country.My big wish it's working in a company where I can contribute with another teammate and learn from them.But I think I must to wait for another chance.In your case I recommend you a lot practice like I said there is not senior without junior.Thank very much for write this post

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

I hear you. I have been working on building up a client base for a year or so now. I do enjoy building sites for clients with WordPress etc. But my ultimate to goal is to work on a product, in a code base. It's where my heart is. Working for myself is something I aspire to eventually. But I just love being surrounded by other developers, and working together on a project.

Thank you for your reply and I wish you all the best my friend!

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lcalcote profile image
Lee Calcote

If you're looking for somewhere to flex or sharpen your skills while you search, there are a number of reactjs and a cytoscapejs-based projects here - layer5.io/projects - that might be of interest.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Woah! This is awesome. I'm definitely interested in checking this out. Thanks for sharing, Lee!

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lcalcote profile image
Lee Calcote

Very good! It just so happens that I'm in Austin as well. While there are very few other contributors that are, it's nice to bump into another local.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

No way! Small world!!! Well, kind of. Seems like loads and loads of developers are moving here every day lol.

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aliasalan profile image
Alias • Edited

As someone who has peer-reviewed multiple personality trait-driven psychological journals for "hiring the right candidate", you touched on two things this company will undoubtedly regret later on. You took their rejection and exercised your freedom to talk about it on social media which is a very noble thing to do like you did in this situation when you are more or less, vulnerable from most over-arching perspectives. This not only shows the strength of character but it segues and concretes that fact with how you followed it up, you went above and beyond the task at hand asked of you and it doesn't sound like you did so in some vain attempt to sail off on some ephemeral sailboat on an ocean of solipsism. That lends itself to your industriousness, your acceptance and demonstrates the value you hold for your abilities in a multi-faceted position and while being held down by rejection, it highlights your potentiality for being able to persevere through the worst of times which means you're destined to enjoy the best of times.

When a job overlooks such traits, don't feel bad about yourself, you're obviously a talented individual and I have a feeling that you'll start to find things getting better. Nothing of great importance or dejected of value because of its ability to manifest something so amazing words can't do justice to it goes unnoticed for long. Stay strong and never be afraid to share these types of stories. We all face the proverbial wolf at the door, cooperatively, our shadow will always triumph over that of it, we needn't show our teeth so long as we possess the capacity to know our own strength and our potentiality to be greater than the opposition.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Alias, I wish I knew your real name so I could properly thank you! This is one of the kindest and most genuine responses I've ever received. You have brought genuine tears to my eyes as well.

Thank you so much for your kind words and please accept this virtual hug 🤗 and know that you made a stranger's day, and I hope your kindness is paid in full!

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aliasalan profile image
Alias • Edited

I am glad the message was received well, this pandemic has a lot of people blinded by the truth. Life is, I suspect at its primitive core, suffering.

So continue to live presently cognizant of the sacrifices needed for a forthright future to positively exploit your own potentiality towards the future that could be, that should be.
-Alias :)

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tysonpomegranate profile image
tysonpomegranate

ah, that sucks. Last summer I sent over 100 CVs not even kidding. but you know, when I eventually found a right fit - nailed the interview process. bad experience only makes you stronger, keep your hopes up. cheers

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Thanks! I did the same last summer, firing off applications left and right, then sitting back and hoping for a response. Which did NOT work for me at all. Since then I have changed my approach. I look for jobs I'm interested in, and then seek out someone at the company and contact them directly about it.

I haven't landed a job yet with this strategy, BUT I have made some killer connections and legitimate friendships along the way. And more importantly, I have improved my mental health. I feel more in control of my self worth/value and how I structure my day. It's a much better mental state to be in!

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Thanks for sharing never give up you will get your chance eventually. I have seen many developers on social media share their job search. Some had to do hundreds of applications before they started to get offers. It is a numbers game just like dating a match will come when you least expect it.

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

You're absolutely right, Andrew! There is no getting around that is simply a numbers game. HOWEVER, you can learn some additional tips and tricks to get noticed. "The squeeky wheel gets the grease" or something like that. I'm learning to be more bold and direct in my approach. It doesn't always work, and hasn't translated to a job just yet. But I feel more confident and in control of my job search that way. Which is incredibly beneficial for my mental health!

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ofu997 profile image
Oliver Fu

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm enjoying your Matrix app!

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jamesncox profile image
James Cox Author

Thank you, Oliver! I'm a huge Matrix fan (obviously) so I had a ton of fun making this. I need to change the intro message "Wake up, Tonic" (the name of the company I was applying to) back to maybe the original, "Wake up, Neo"