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One Big Disadvantage Of Junior Software Developers

nickbulljs profile image Nick Bull Originally published at blog.nickbulljs.com Updated on ・4 min read

What is the biggest disadvantage of a junior developer?

That every employer doesn’t like.

That every senior-level developer doesn’t have.

That often becomes the number one reason why junior developers are not invited to the interview.

What’s that?

Nobody wants you without work experience.

Picture this.

You open a job board website, enter the position you are looking for in the search bar, press enter, click on the first job advertisement, look through the job requirements, and find such line:

Looking for Junior developers with 1-2 years of experience

This is the moment when you face reality:

Nobody wants to hire a developer without real-world experience.

Yes, it seems illogical.

You are a young developer who has just graduated from university or finished a programming course, you feel ready to get real work experience, but companies don’t want to give it to you before you get it.

Why?

There are a bunch of reasons, but here are the main two:

  1. Junior developers need to be trained.

    After graduation or finishing the programming course, you won’t know what it is like to work in a real working environment with a typical workflow, you won't know how to work with technologies software companies use for their daily work, you won’t know how to communicate effectively with developers and people from other departments, you won't know thousands of things companies want you to know.

    And where to get it?

    Practical experience. Without it, companies need to spend time, money, and involve other developers to train you.

    It's costly.

  2. Junior developers are risky.

    What you have learned in college, university, boot camps, and programming courses are useful. Still, you didn’t try to fix an unpredictable bug that eats company money every minute until it gets fixed, you didn’t merge the wrong branch into master and crashed production server, you didn’t face a lot of tense situations that can harm a business.

    This is why companies are afraid to hire developers without real-world experience. It can be too risky for them.

And here we are.

You don’t have work experience.

You don’t know where to get it.

You don’t know what to do.

Solution?

Imitate it.

Imitate work experience.

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Imitate with side projects

If you have little or no work experience (that every company wants you to have), you could imitate it with side projects.

Generally, work experience shows recruiters that:

  • You can code.
  • You have worked in a team and know how to communicate effectively.
  • You can do things on your own.

Side projects show recruiters that:

  • You can code.
  • You can do things on your own.

2 of 3.

Not bad.

That’s why side projects kind of replace work experience in the eyes of recruiters.

What side projects should you build?

I suggest building:

  1. Projects that fit your position (backend, frontend, full-stack, etc.)
  2. Projects that fit your position and field (backend engineer working in the AI field, a fronted engineer in the eCommerce field, etc.)
  3. Crazy ideas from your head that you want to put into reality.

To find ideas for side projects, you can use google: "[YOUR POSITION] side projects ideas"

How difficult do the projects have to be?

It all depends on the job market and you.

If 10 candidates apply with a calculator application as a side project, you can stand out with something slightly difficult. But if 10 candidates apply with the YouTube clone application as a side project, at a minimum, you should build a YouTube clone too.

Don’t panic. From my experience, the average level of side projects (that I reviewed as the interviewer) is very low.

Here are some examples of “good” and “bad” projects ideas so you can understand what minimum difficulty level you need.

Example of “bad” side projects:

  • To-do list
  • Calculator
  • Hello world

Example of “good” side projects:

  • Chat application
  • Soundcloud like an audio player
  • Clone of any big website with basic functionality (login, admin panel, etc.)

How much side project should I build?

2-3 projects.

Where to list them?

You should add it to 2 places:

  1. Resume (to the “Projects” section).
  2. Github profile.

Talking about Github, I suggest publishing your side projects online if it’s possible.

Recruiters have other things to do besides pulling your project from Github and running it locally.

Save their time.

Deploy what you have built to a public domain.

In the end…

Thanks for reading!

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Discussion (24)

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gautham495 profile image
Gautham Vijayan

Company needing react devs:

Myself: Mam I am a Junior React dev having done some projects in React.
HR: We want experienced react devs.

'End of conversation'

Really good posts on junior developers.

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sgolovine profile image
Sunny Golovine

Stop calling yourself a "Junior", even if you are. Just call yourself a "React developer". When they ask you about experience, if you did a bunch of react projects then count that as "work experience", even if it's not. It's hard to get that first job but after you've got your foot in the door, the rest of the jobs just come to you.

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gautham495 profile image
Gautham Vijayan

Can you please elaborate on how to showcase my projects as work experience. It can really be a game changer for me!!!

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sgolovine profile image
Sunny Golovine

It comes down to what you tell employers when they ask how much experience you have.

When I was a junior react dev, I would work on side projects pretty much every night after work. When I started looking for other jobs I was asked how much work experience I had with React, while I really only had a year at that point, I told the interviewer I had two years because all that other coding I did after work counts as basically a second job.

Not everyone will agree with this framing, but it's certainly been advantageous to my career.

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gautham495 profile image
Gautham Vijayan

Fake it until you make it!!!

Got it sir!!

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gdledsan profile image
Mundo

It is more like "fake it", you never stop faking.
In the sense of you never stop learning.

It is called being confident and having a little sales skill, sell yourself

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gautham495 profile image
Gautham Vijayan

Thank you for your advice

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

Thanks, Gautham!

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thexdev profile image
M. Akbar Nugroho

If junior devs doesnt have skill to communicate effectively, i think it's a good practice to start writing a blog or article about technical or something like that to increase communication skill. Or you can join in a programmer community in your area and build relationship with its member.

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

Communication is a hard topic. You can't learn it like coding. It's more about practice than theory. And not just more, it's 95% practice and 5% theory. One day I'll talk about it and try to give the most useful advice on how to improve your communication skills.

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thexdev profile image
M. Akbar Nugroho

Agreed. But, im doing that and luckly got my first job 2 years ago. Of course still need very much adaptation at first. I hope you'll publish some advice about that. Can't wait to read..

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nickbulljs profile image
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cchana profile image
Charanjit Chana

Good advice here. I’m hoping I’ll be in a position to help one or two juniors take their first step into the career ladder next year.

Funny enough, the #dohackathon is the perfect thing for inspiration right now. Go off and use their free tier to build and ship something. A blog, a tool, an portfolio. Get feedback, improve and deploy again.

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chideraao profile image
Okeke Chidera

Article legit made my night. thanks for this!

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nickbulljs profile image
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qviper profile image
Viper

Its true "Junior developers are risky."

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tolaseadegbite profile image
Tolase Kelvin Adegbite

Thank you for this article. I find this very useful as an upcoming dev.

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

Thanks, appreciate that!

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chacalonchacaloso profile image
Paul Cortes

Great, I had only worked in one place since get out of the universitie, but this article is very great for me I want change of my work

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Nick Bull Author

Thanks Paul!

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nutterzuk profile image
Stephen Nutbrown

"my deep preparation system based on latest researches that only 0.0000001%" -
That's 1 in 1,000,000,000.

So you are saying 7 people in the world?

Sounds like a load of rubbish. Sources please?

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

It's not about researches, but about my system that only a few people (actually near 5) know about.

Removed it, to not to confuse people. Thanks, Stephen.

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mariocalin profile image
Mario • Edited

There is something called traineeship. It is ideal for those companies that do not want to "risk" ( I really dont see any risk) their money in untrained people.

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gdledsan profile image
Mundo

Well, that is true no one wants someone that read a book or did a course and that is it.

However, experience can be any project, oncluding solo projects.