Hello dear devs (and newbies 🐣)! 👋🏻 Good to see you here!
Today we will be looking at ways to make yourself more employable as a junior (or newbie). Note that most (if not all) of the tips I'll share here, are based on my personal experience. I do hope that regardless of this, you'll find value in this post.
Without further ado, let's get into it! 🙌🏻
Disclaimer 🚨: By more employable I mean more "job-ready". This means that you have the right (most in demand) skills and knowledge you need to get hired. By the way, you don't need to be a coding god to get hired, but at least be competent and aware of what the job market demands. Lastly, getting hired in this context means anything from getting your first job, first freelance gig or even an internship or apprenticeship. Hope that makes things clear.
What I mean by this is, that you should see what job listings for junior roles look like and how they are presented. When browsing job listings, ask yourself the following questions:
- What skills are they looking for?
- What tools and technologies should I be acquainted with?
- What skills am I missing from this list and how can I improve?
But why does this even matter?
In my experience this has been crucial and extremely helpful, because I could acquire the skills that I knew were in demand and would ultimately make me more employable. For example, I noticed that many job listings asked for knowledge of agile methodologies (especially Scrum). Therefore I made sure to pick up at least the basics about this agile methodology.
Another example is version control. After looking through various listings, I picked up a pattern: knowledge of version control (especially in Git) is highly valued by companies out there. And rightfully so! Any respectable company (or individual in this space) should be familiar and use version control in their projects. Period.
So use the wisdom you gain from dissecting job listings to your advantage and make sure that what you learn, aligns well with the demands of the real-world.
Don't underestimate the power of this one! By networking events I mean anything from conferences to meetups, and even hackathons. The key here is networking. Put yourself out there. However, as we all know, that has gotten increasingly difficult recently. Face-to-face meetups and conferences are all a thing of the past; covid killed 'em all. Now, while we may mourn about that, we can rejoice because we took the party online instead! 🥳
I know, I know. It is NOT the same, but it still counts. I personally lost count of how many conferences and meetups I attended in the past 3 years or so (those were the days 🤪). I literally attended every last (tech) event on the island! At one point people even started asking me: "Have we met before? Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"
Despite not being the most bubbly person in the room and not having the best networking skills, I was still able to leave an impression by merely attending. (I give all the merit to my curly hair. It's basically my business card! 😂)
So put your game face on and go network with others! It will help you somewhere down the line.
💡 P.S. being young and a student is just about enough to get you noticed by others. Don't hide the fact that you are a student though; people can just tell you are one! 😂
This one is pretty obvious, I know. However, it doesn't hurt to give a friendly reminder, right? 😉
Now, I'm not one to talk, since I have no portfolio website and all (and that's fine too), but let me say the following: focus on building projects and forget about certificates and perfect scores. Yep, I said it!
Now, don't get me wrong; certificates matter and are quite desirable in some instances. However, as a junior you should be far more concerned with building tangible things that showcase your skills instead of hoarding (digital) certificates. You can get all these shiny certificates as you progress through your career. But for starters: BUILD 👏🏻 THAT 👏🏻 PORTFOLIO 👏🏻!
💡 P.S.: Make your portfolio your best work yet. Pay attention to details, accessibility and responsiveness (among another zillion things like performance and such). Don't go claiming you make responsive websites when your own portfolio looks like 💩 on mobile. Just saying...
Yep. Despite being the most boring (and at times toxic) social network out there, LinkedIn has its value. I think of it as an easy way to keep my resume up to date without having to step inside of Microsoft Word all the time. (Fun fact: LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft...).
But why LinkedIn?
In a previous point I mentioned networking, right? Well guess what? Most working professionals have a LinkedIn profile, hence it is one of the top ways of keeping in touch with connections you made at conferences and the like. (There's Twitter too, but that's a topic for another time.)
In addition to this, LinkedIn makes for a pretty decent job hunting tool (yet it is not the only one, as you may know). You decide how active you want to be on LinkedIn, but if anything, try to keep in touch with the folks that interest you most. And don't be afraid to ask them to introduce you to others in their network or to keep you posted on job openings at their company.
Many folks land jobs on LinkedIn via referrals, so keep your friends close! (and you enemies closer? 😈 JK!)
The tech space is arguably overflowing with opportunities. Staying in the loop is tough, yet crucial. Try to get involved with the community early on and build an online presence while you're at it. Also consider contributing to open-source projects or otherwise. Open-source projects are a good way to expand your skills and get some "work experience".
Another great way to get involved is to co-organize events and workshops (even if online). I did a little of that in the past and it was quite helpful in landing a spot at the company I'm currently at. The events and workshops my peers and I organized were sponsored by them, so we had something in common! 😁 (I live on an island the size of a peanut (that's not true, but it is small), everyone knows each other around here. 😂 Keep in mind that this may work out differently for you.)
Don't be shy, put yourself out there! Add value in the best way you can. It doesn't have to be related to programming in order to matter.
The importance of soft skills is immensely overlooked by some. Let me break it to you: you need to AT THE VERY LEAST know how to talk to others. Mind you, talking and communicating are two different things. 😬
The point here is: technical skills are great, but soft skills are even better! Cherry on top: many job listings out there list these kind of non-technical skills (a.k.a. interpersonal skills). Why do you think they do that? Well, because they matter! Some of the most commonly listed soft skills include:
- Communication skills (verbal AND written),
- Teamwork and collaboration,
- Attention to detail,
- Critical thinking,
- Eagerness to learn and many others.
Make sure your soft skills are somewhere near as good as your technical skills. It will make a world of a difference in your career!
That's all folks! 🐷 I hope you learned something from this post and that you got some valuable tips you can put to use right away! Drop your questions and/or thoughts in the comments below 👇🏻 I love to read 'em all!
Yours truly signing off... See you soon! 👩🏻💻👨🏻💻
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