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I hold back on job applications, compensating with tech dev blogging and ongoing side projects – this ain't effective innit?

Retiago Drago on September 15, 2023

I am a Python programmer. I consider myself a jack of all trades, but I tend to work on data-related or AI projects over software engineering. The...
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wraith profile image
Jake Lundberg

Let me start by saying, you are not alone. Many people looking to get into this industry feel very much the same way. It can be really intimidating when looking at a job description and realizing you only have a fraction of those skills. So let me first offer some generic advice before getting to your question...

Many job descriptions "shoot for the stars hoping to land on the moon". What I mean here is that a lot of job descriptions describe the company's "perfect" candidate. More often than not, that candidate doesn't actually exist. What they are usually hoping for is to find someone that meets most or at least some of the criteria. So if you find that you meet maybe 75% of the requirements, there's really nothing wrong with tossing your hat into the ring. You never know. If you can show them that you can and are willing to learn the other 25%, you probably have a pretty good shot at landing the job.

Now in order to answer your question, some more information would be helpful. So here are a few questions:

  • What are you most afraid of when you decide to back away from applying for a job or seeking freelance work? Is it rejection? Putting yourself into an unfamiliar situation? Something else?

  • Have you reached out for help? Have you looked at finding a mentor or program that would be willing to coach and/or help you?

  • Have you considered alternate work to support you while you continue to learn?

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Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

You are too generous with job descriptions.
Truth is most job descriptions are poorly written.
Then people who don't know how to hire look at existing poorly written job descriptions for inspiration how to write one.
And the circle goes on and on.
Until they get proper training on how to hire.
But they usually won't

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Jake Lundberg

Would you mind sharing some examples of what you consider to be common poorly written job descriptions?

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Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

Most of them !
Writing a good job description requires dedicated training

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Jake Lundberg • Edited

I’m gonna have to disagree with you here friend. There are certainly ways things can be better…just like everything in this world. but to claim that most job descriptions (insinuating what, 90%, 95%?) are poorly written is a bit too opinionated for me without some clear examples and explanations of what makes them poorly written.

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Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev) • Edited

Yes something like 95% sounds correct.
The paradox is easy to understand, if people are not trained for a difficult exercise and only take inspiration from other people who are not trained either, what kind of result do you expect?

Instead of bad examples, it would be more useful to show examples on how to do it right.
I'm learning my new craft in France, and here Shirley Almosni Chiche is a reference.

build-rh.com/job_offers/developpeu...

Easily 2-3 orders of magnitude better than the average job offer description
You read it and either you learn soon it's not for you, or you already know you want to work there before you reach the end of the description.
I would like to go in that direction, but give me some time, Shirley is doing this since 10 years :)

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Jake Lundberg

This is very interesting, thank you for sharing! Do you have a sense of how long it would take someone to go through the training and to write a job posting like this? Assuming an HR person who is unfamiliar with the technical details of a job.

I love this idea, and will definitely be looking into it more!

The challenge I see with it (at least here in the US) is the financial investment. Hiring a new person is already a very expensive endeavor, considering the time it takes to review LOTS of resumes, the time for multiple people in the company to interview and assess multiple candidates, the loss of productive, work hours while this all is being done, and then of course the cost of benefits and salary for the new hire and their onboarding. Adding an additional cost could be a "hard sell". Have you encountered this? And if so, how have you seen it addressed?

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Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev) • Edited

The issue is more that the incentives to do a good job aren't great.
If the market is hot enough, it's like you are trying to rent a flat in Paris, you will succeed no matter what.
Or if you aren't doing a qualitative job, you spam a lot on LinkedIn, you have a great timing, and that equalizes things out.

But on the merits I'm now convinced that there is huge difference between average and great recruiters, the training I'm doing at lecoledurecrutement.fr/ is 2.500€ and provides lots of values on a large range of topics, it's a pretty unique ressource

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Retiago Drago

Thanks for taking the time to write all of that.

What are you most afraid of when you decide to back away from applying for a job or seeking freelance work? Is it rejection? Putting yourself into an unfamiliar situation? Something else?

It appears I lack confidence in my own abilities and skills, possibly for fear of not meeting the perceived high standards of employers.

Have you reached out for help? Have you looked at finding a mentor or program that would be willing to coach and/or help you?

I haven't. The mentor I can afford at the moment is either ChatGPT and BingChat, LARPing certain work or interview situation.

Have you considered alternate work to support you while you continue to learn?

I would try to do another kind of freelance job than I did last month.

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Jake Lundberg

Thank you for replying 😃 That helps me to understand your situation a little better.

Now, to answer your question, what would I do in your situation.

First and foremost, you gotta put food on the table. So I would look at getting a job that is not tech related just to make sure I have money coming in. There is nothing wrong with flipping burgers, driving people around, or answering calls while you work to advance yourself.

Second, I would talk to some people and grow my network. I would start going to local developer related Meetups, getting involved in some online developer communities, and if you're able, go to a conference or 2. I've seen this do a number of things for people:

  1. Having people to talk to who understand what you are going through can be really beneficial to mental health.
  2. This is a great way to find people to work on projects with. Whether it's a hackathon, some side project, or freelance work, this could be a really good way to help that lack of confidence, show you can work with a team, and get some interesting stuff on that portfolio.
  3. You would be amazed at how many jobs out there are filled by internal referrals. So building your network will provide you with more of these kinds of opportunities. I personally have gotten more jobs for this reason than jobs I applied to in my life.
  4. It will put you in front of people with experience, and give you an opportunity to find a mentor.

Lastly, as intimidating as it can be, I would start applying. There are going to be rejections. There are going to be jobs and people that don't respond. But there may also be good things to come out of it. Go after those jobs you may not be completely qualified for, but that you are confident you could learn the rest quickly. You don't know how things are going to go until you put yourself out there. It's time.

These are just my opinions, and what I would personally do. But I hope they help you.

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Retiago Drago

Thanks, hope the good wishes will come back to you as well

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tq-bit

I feel you.

Imposter syndrome's very common in the industry.

My suggestions for you are:

  • Be frank with your employer if you don't know whether you fulfill all 137.302 requirements in the job description. If you've got the basics covered, you can very much learn everything that's required for the job
  • Most folks are looking for great attitude as much as for great talent. When in doubt, I would always hire the person I vibe with above the person who has raw tech skills but no social skills
  • If it looks really dire, fake it till you make it. If you're lucky, you'll run into an HR associate with no idea what your job will be. Practicing conversation with a friend or relative helps. Practice speech in front of the mirror, it works wonders.
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Retiago Drago

Thank you, I really like the fake it till you make it mindset you suggest here. As far as I understand the idea here is not to lie about our skills but to present ourselves confidently. If we're up against an HR person who isn't familiar with the technical details of the job, our confidence could make a positive impression.

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tq-bit

Most HR people might not even be interested in technical details but more about your CV. If you've got projects or a blog on the side, that's great. Speak about that in greater detail and how it makes you stand out from other candidates. There really is no need to hide yourself. And if you can convince yourself of it, you can convince others as well :-)

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Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev) • Edited

There is absolutely zero correlation between having imposter syndrome and your skills level.

If you were lacking skills in a particular area important for your programming life, say unit testing, then that problem could be solved straightforwardly by a good training in unit testing.

Imposter syndrome is something else entirely, it's an inner voice in your head that chats badly about you all the time

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Retiago Drago

also, there'ss a typo for syndrome in the title

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Retiago Drago

Thanks for the reply. I will give myself time to learn effectively.

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RAM PANDEY

This is my initial assessment of why you may lack confidence in yourself. Please note that my perspective may not be entirely accurate, but it appears that you're comparing yourself to individuals with superior skills and concluding that you're inadequate for the job. This approach is counterproductive. Instead of assessing your skills against others, consider comparing the effort you invest in your development.

Rather than measuring your skills, focus on the dedication and time you allocate to honing them. If you constantly allow yourself to be influenced by others' expertise, you may find it challenging to make significant progress in your field. When interacting with individuals who possess extensive knowledge in specific areas, such as three.js or TensorFlow (relevant to your field), remember that their insights are the result of substantial time and effort invested.

For instance, they might offer valuable insights and information that you weren't previously aware of. Why? Because they have dedicated more time to mastering those subjects. I hope this message resonates with you: compare your efforts, not your skills, as skill acquisition is impossible without putting in the necessary effort.

Regarding the concern of whether you're a good fit for the job, it's essential to stop dwelling on self-doubt and start taking action. By actively applying for positions, you'll gain valuable insights into your strengths and areas for improvement. This proactive approach allows you to identify precisely which skills you may be lacking.

Avoid falling into the trap known as "tutorial hell," where you focus solely on learning without practical application. Instead, take the initiative to interview for positions. If you face rejection, use it as an opportunity for reflection. Ask yourself or seek feedback on what specific skills could have led to your selection. Then, take a systematic approach to acquiring those skills that are in high demand.

However, it's crucial not to overwhelm yourself by trying to acquire too many skills at once. Focus on the most critical and relevant ones that align with your career goals and the positions you're interested in.

By following this approach, you'll not only build your confidence but also develop a clear path toward professional growth and success.

Best of luck

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Retiago Drago

Thank you for the kind words you put here @rampa2510

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Arnaud Dagnelies

Just apply for the right job. Not all jobs require a senior with tons of experience. In many junior positions, the company is willing to "invest" in you and takes some learning curve for granted. Often, it takes time to understand their software, their ecosystem, etc. What's more important to be honest and to get along with the people.

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Retiago Drago

Thank you for the courage, I'm in the middle of applying for job right now

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Retiago Drago

This month, I barely got by. Next month is the last of my savings that I can spend, and if I don't have a source of income by then, I won't make it this year I'm afraid.

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Rhema

As someone who is also in this messy state of mind, I understand you.

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Retiago Drago

Thank you, Rhema for being compassionate in this community.