Originally published November 24, 2019 on BritishPandaChick Codes. I made tweaks to the original post so it would work for The Practical Dev.
At the end of 2017, I signed up for one of the CNC2018 challenges. I decided to sign up for the Get a Job challenge. The Get a Job challenge was a 9-week challenge with 9 missions.
These missions helped developers get ready to start looking for a tech job. The challenge helped developers prepare for the job search from researching companies you'd like to interview, portfolios, and even dealing with different outcomes during the job search process. I did the challenge as soon as it started in 2018 and made sure to do all the missions.
After the challenge ended, I saved all the e-mails Code Newbie sent me during the challenge since I had a good feeling I'd need it again in the future. I didn't find a tech job in 2018, but the challenge did help me prepare for the job search and let me do some more reflection on what companies and jobs would be the best fit for me. Today I'm looking for a front-end web developer position.
As I put more time and energy into the job search, I pulled out all my CNC2018 e-mails to review all the job searching tips and see what else I can do to improve all the items I'm using in my search. As I revisit these missions, I want to share the information I've learned from the Get a Job challenge to help other developers trying to find tech jobs. Therefore this post is the start of a brand new series that will share all the great information, tips, and resources in the Get a Job challenge e-mails.
This post is starting with the first mission. Mission one has two parts. Mission one is "10 Companies + 5 Job Descriptions". Part one of this mission is creating a list of 10 companies you want to work for. In this post, I'll share all of Code Newbie's tips for creating your list of 10 companies, resources to help you find companies you want to work for, and even some self-care advice to help you while you research.
What is CNC2018?
In 2018, Code Newbie launched CNC2018. CNC2018 was a set of challenges to help new developers start the new year right and begin working on goals. CNC2018 had four challenges developers could choose from. These challenges were starting to code, coding more, blogging more, and get a job. Developers could sign up for one challenge.
Once you signed up for a challenge, Code Newbie will send you weekly e-mails with missions to complete. These missions break down the steps to help developers start working towards the results they want. Each mission comes with tips, examples, resources, and even homework for developers to do. Developers posted this homework on the Code Newbie slack or the CNC2018 Facebook group.
Mission One Homework
Each mission has a homework task for developers to complete for each mission. For mission one, the homework assignment is creating a spreadsheet for 10 companies you want to work for. It might sound odd to make a list of companies as the first step of a job search, but it actually the best thing to start any job search.
Looking for a job is a lot like grocery shopping. You need to have a clear idea of what you are looking for and what you want so you can stay focused during your search. So take your time in the beginning to do some self-reflection. Your future self will thank you later.
Mission one's homework assignment is finding 10 companies you want to work for. Code Newbie provides developers with a Google Sheets spreadsheet but you can create your own spreadsheet with any software you feel comfortable using. If you are creating a spreadsheet, you will need the following headings.
- Company name
- Company size
- Link to career page or job board
- Any open tech positions?
- Do you know anyone at this company?
Once you have added all the headings, you can play with the column sizes so you have enough room to fill in information for each company later. You can even play with the styles on your spreadsheet such as changing the fonts or adding color.
Questions to Consider
Picking 10 companies for your spreadsheet might not sound like an easy task, but Code Newbie provides developers with a list of questions to help them evaluate which companies would be the best fit for you. As you start looking at companies, you will want to ask yourself these questions.
How big is the company?
There are pros and cons to how big a company is. Big companies might be an obvious choice for many developers since bigger companies often mean bigger tech teams. However, Code Newbie encourages developers to be open to small companies. So you want to explore your options and think about what company size you'd feel comfortable working at.
What kind of business is it?
Company size isn't the only thing you want to think about. Working in tech can mean different things since there are a variety of business models with different pros and cons. There aren't just large tech companies.
Developers can also work for small companies, startups, consulting firms or agencies, and late-stage startups. So you will want to think about what kind of business you want to work for and how they operate.
Where are these companies?
Location is important when considering what companies you want to work for. This is where you decide if you are willing to relocate for a job. If you are willing to relocate, you want to think about where you want to move and work.
Code Newbie advises developers considering relocating for a job to see what the tech community is like in different locations. Are you unable to move? You can still look at companies in your area.
You can also look at remote positions. Remote jobs aren't for everyone so you will want to think if you can live the lifestyle of a remote worker.
What role does tech play at this company?
Technology can play different roles for different companies. When it comes to answering this question, Code Newbie identifies three types of roles developers can use to compare companies to see which one the company matches.
A. Technical products/services
This means the products and services are technical and all about technology. Google and Microsoft are examples of companies that fit this role. Their services and products are completely around technology.
B. Tech-enabled companies
These kinds of companies don't give something technical users can use, but technology plays an important role in how they operate and getting the customers what they need. Companies that fit this type of role are Uber, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron. These companies use technology to get users their products and services.
C. Product/services supported by technology
Companies in this role use technology to support their products/services. They are different from tech-enabled companies since technology is kept to a supportive role. It is used to help these companies stay relevant.
A company that fits this kind of role is Domino's. Domino's uses technical teams for their website and app to support what they do.
What industries are you interested in?
Technology has disrupted every industry. Therefore you will want to think about what industries you want to work in and what industries you don't want to be a part of. There are pros and cons to every industry so make sure you do lots of research on the industries you are considering and what challenges happening in each one.
One of the things you can look for when you research are the tech teams. Code Newbie encourages developers to start looking at their favorite organizations and non-profits in industries they are curious about.
Who works at these companies?
Culture fit is something many developers are considering when they are looking for jobs. The work environment is something developers need to consider when deciding what companies to work for. Work environments will vary depending on the needs and circumstances of each developer.
As you research companies, you will want to see if you can find any testimonials or reviews from people who have worked at these companies. This information will give you an idea of what working at this company will be like and if you will be able to thrive in the company culture. You will want to read both the positive and the negative testimonials in order to put together a complete picture of what these companies are like. You can find these testimonials on websites like Glassdoor.
Another good way to get a sense of the people who work for a company is the blog or Medium account. Code Newbie encourages developers to check out the company's website to see if there is a blog on their website since it gives clients and potential employers a sense of who they are. You will want to read some of the posts to get a sense of what their values are.
Are they hiring?
This question is all about gathering data on if a company is hiring technical talent or not. You can see if a company is hiring on their website. Companies will have a jobs page or a careers page somewhere on their websites. LinkedIn is another great place to look to see if companies are hiring.
Hiring can offer important clues about the company. For example, startups that just raised a round or announcement of a high profile hire are positive hiring signs. Startups that raised a round will be getting more money which will often go towards hiring. High-profile hires mean the company has big plans for hiring and will be hiring more.
You don't want to be on the lookout for positive hiring clues. You will also want to pay attention to any warning hiring clues. Some examples of hiring red flags are layoffs, hiring freeze, and any other company troubles. If the company is struggling, that means there will be a slim chance of getting a job.
What should I do with a company that isn't hiring?
When it comes to companies that aren't hiring, you don't want to rule these companies out. Although the CNC2018 challenge wants developers to look at companies that are hiring, Code Newbie still wants developers to keep an open mind about companies that aren't hiring.
Although job openings can tell you a lot about a company, no openings shouldn't prevent you from keeping companies on your spreadsheet. Code Newbie encourages developers to stay open to companies not hiring and see if they building exciting things. It might sound odd giving space on your spreadsheet to companies that aren't hiring, but the secret to getting these jobs is through networking.
Long-term relationships and informational interviews are your best way to learn about job openings at these companies. So casual conversations you have at work or school are your way to find a job at the companies you want to work for. Doing these things will help you learn about job postings that aren't advertised, job titles that are beyond what you normally focus on, and companies you never heard of.
How can I find 10 companies for my spreadsheet?
There are tons of things you can use to help you put together your spreadsheet. Some of the things you can use include the company's website and social media accounts. In the CNC2018 challenge, Code Newbie concentrates on two things developers can use to help them find companies.
The e-mail shares information on job boards and using your network. Regardless of what you use to put together your spreadsheet, Code Newbie suggests developers use 2 hours to find your companies.
There are several job boards you can look at to find your 10 companies. Code Newbie suggests taking a look at job boards such as Indeed, SimplyHired, and Dice. Another good place to look is your local Chamber of Commerce. Chamber of Commerce often has local listings and events for all the companies in the area including ones in the tech sector.
Do you want to work at a startup?
You can find startups by looking at local startup communities or job boards specifically for startups. Some local communities mentioned in the CNC2018 challenge are Built in LA or NY Tech Meetup. If you are looking for job boards for startups, Code Newbie suggests looking at job boards from VC firms such as Y Combinator jobs and USV jobs.
If you are looking for a remote job, you will want to look at job boards specifically targeted for remote jobs. Some job boards to look for remote work are We Work Remotely, Remote Ok, and Remotive.io.
Update August 8, 2021: One of my readers suggested a great remote job board to help job seekers with this mission. If you want another great remote job board to look for remote roles, look at Remote Tech Jobs.
Your network is a great way to find companies for your spreadsheet. Social media is a great place to start reaching out to your network. Some platforms you can use are Twitter, Github, and LinkedIn.
You can see what companies other developers are working for and contact members of your network to find great companies that match your needs. Developers can use Github to look at their favorite tools and repositories to see who made them and what companies the maintainers work for. You will want to use a variety of resources to help you put together your spreadsheet.
Another great place to find companies is starting with things you use daily. Look at your mobile devices to see what apps you use. Then search the apps on the Google Play Store or the App Store to see if there is a developer description on the app page. Many apps include a developer section users on these apps can use to learn about the companies that make these apps and have links to their websites.
Another great place to look for companies is coding bootcamps. Bootcamps often post companies on their websites. These are companies they either work with or ones that hire their students.
You can find these companies on the alumni pages on their websites or blogs. Many bootcamps will often list these companies on the home page of their websites. You can also learn about companies bootcamp grads for from webinars bootcamps host or publish on YouTube.
Let's review your 10 companies!
Now that your spreadsheet is done, the last thing you need to do for this mission is to review your list. Code Newbie suggests developers take an hour to review and reflect on your completed spreadsheet. The goal of this part of the mission is to get a sense of how you feel about the companies on your list and make any edits.
Pay attention to what your list of companies has in common with each other. Are there any similarities you notice? Do any companies make you feel excited? These are things you want to be on the lookout for as you look at your companies. You can write down these thoughts and feelings in the notes section of the spreadsheet.
Code Newbie Podcast Corner
Finding a job isn't a one size fit all. Every developer is going to have a unique journey to getting a tech job. Some will have a straightforward path while others will have one with lots of curves.
Code Newbie's podcast is proof of this. All the guests featured on the podcast have different stories and journeys to getting a tech job. In this CNC2018 mission, Code Newbie recommends developers revisit the "How to ace a technical interview" episode featuring La Vesha Park and Tiffany Peon.
This episode doesn't just share tips for having an amazing technical interview. Park and Peon share their stories of how they got tech jobs as well as the process it took for them to get there. The moral of their stories is that every journey is different so there's no right or wrong way to find a job.
Code Newbie suggests searching the web for awards that recognize outstanding employees. A good resource to look at is The Timmy Awards. They honor LA's best workplaces in the tech sector, rated by employees.
If you are looking for companies that hire bootcamp grads, many websites have lists of companies that hire bootcamp grads. You can look at websites like SwitchUp and Course Report to see lists of companies that hire bootcamp alumni.
Code Newbie suggests looking at "8 Companies that Love Hiring Code Bootcampers" since this article lists companies that hire graduates, roles they hire graduates for, and what they love about bootcamp graduates.
Another good resource to use is Quora. You will want to search for questions or even post your own. You can even search to see if there's a post similar in your country. One of the posts they recommend is this one for "Which U.S. cities would be best for a junior developer to relocate to?
Time for some self-care!
Each e-mail in CNC2018 Gets a Job challenge includes a self-care tip developers can use to help them take care of themselves. The first self-care tip is all about "eating the rainbow" or getting more vegetables and fruit in your diet. Vegetables and fruits don't just help you stay healthy.
Specific fruits and vegetables have nutrients and compounds which will help you do your research and be more productive throughout your coding journey. In order to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet is by eating the rainbow. Different colors of fruit and vegetables have certain nutrients.
For example, vegetables that are orange have been shown to have lots of vitamin A while dark leafy greens have lots of potassium and folate. Vegetables that are purple have anthocyanin. Anthocyanin helps lower inflammation, fight cancer, and heart disease. It also has been proven to improve brain health.
If you would like to learn more about what fruits and vegetables to eat, Code newbie provides a link to a PDF from heart.org. This PDF includes tips for eating well and a table of fruits and vegetables organized by color. You'll also find one of the articles Code Newbie cited in this mission on purple fruits and vegetables on anthocyanin.
Take a couple of days to find your 10 companies. Once you've got your list, share your 3 favorite companies in the comments below. You can also share 3 companies you were surprised that ended up on your list.
Don't forget to share your list with Code Newbie. You can share your companies on social media using the hashtag #CNC2018. Are you doing the CNC2018 Get a Job Challenge? You can commit to this challenge in the comments below.
Now that we've got 10 companies, it is time to move onto part two of this challenge. Part two is where we'll be taking a look at the job descriptions. This is where you'll be looking for 5 job descriptions you'll be using for this challenge. You'll learn more in the next post and get tips on how to find your 5 job descriptions.