If the tech community is a forest, I am but a sprouting sapling.
Here’s what I did:
For some reason, I was resistant to LinkedIn at first. While I understood what it was for, I didn’t fully grasp its scope or the concept behind it. The power behind LinkedIn is the concept that getting hired isn’t about what you know but who you know. A lot of times if you’re out there on the job search it’s because you lack the necessary connections in the industry you want to enter. That’s sums up the general barrier to entry. The only way to get connections is to make connections, and that’s where LinkedIn comes in. Once you finally update (or make) your LinkedIn profile, don’t just leave it and expect it to land you in the interviewer’s seat. Make sure you’re on there connecting to everyone you know or kind of know. I’ve heard arguments on both sides for adding people you don’t know too, but I chose not to do that. I would also recommend getting LinkedIn Prime. It’s a pricey $30 a month, but the first month is free. I canceled before the month ended.
I used them all. Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Dice, Monster. I applied to at least 5 posts a day, usually around 10. It seems like a lot, but it becomes addictive after a while. A lot of listings asked for an amount of experience that I didn’t have, but I didn’t let it stop me. I got a few responses here and there, but nothing of substance until I started using them in conjunction with LinkedIn. Out of the 10 or so that I applied to, I chose about half that I felt I had a real shot at. I took to LinkedIn to do as much research as I could on them. One thing I took a particular interest in was the employees that worked there. My goal was to contact one person per night and build a human connection organically (this is where making connections comes in from #1).
At the end of the day, you have to remember that on the other side of that job listing is a person, and people hire people they know, people they like, and people who have been referred by people they know and like. Your goal is to become more than words on a resume, even if its just slightly more.
I would choose that one person based on this priority if there are multiple in the category, I'd chose the person I was least removed from (chose the friend of a friend vs the friend of a friend of a friend, it’s the number that appears next to their name):
Already established connection
(doesn’t matter if you loosely know them or if you’re best friends)
Someone from HR
Someone with the same job title you’re applying for
Someone in the same general field as you
Anyone who works there, preferably the one least removed from you.
That initial message can be tricky, maybe even a little awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is the general template I used to follow for myself, obviously switching up depending on who I was talking to (some say its most important to customize the cover letter. I’d argue that this is the step requiring the most of your attention):
I'm reaching out because I saw that your company ________was looking for a [job title], and I was considering applying. I wanted to see if you could give me more of a feel of the company culture, as well as the culture of the development team. I also wouldn't mind hearing a little about your experience working there. I noticed that we both went to a coding bootcamp (I went to 4Geeks Academy) and now I'm in that "applying" phase, but I really want to make sure the places I apply to are a good fit. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your reply.
[Name, email, phone number]
If it was someone from HR or a CEO, I’d add that I had been following the business for a while because of [some random quality of their business] and I jumped when I saw they were hiring. Regardless, I made sure not to make it sound like I was begging for them to get me an in, but rather that I was just looking for a conversation. I want to say I had about a 60% response rate. I got the majority of my interviews from those conversations. This is the message that got me in front of my to-be employer.
As soon as you can, do what you can to throw your best work together into a portfolio. If all you have are some tutorials followed along with throw that on there. Just make sure you personalize it a bit. The goal is to not make them look like you ripped it off of YouTube. If you are using tutorials, though, I’d avoid posting the generic beginner projects (calculators, to-do lists, etc). One day I had gotten tired of continuously getting turned down because I didn’t have one and I just spent a weekend piecing it together. Ironically, it’s the first thing my to-be employer asked me for when we sat down for our interview. Believe me, the sigh of relief was audible. Here is my portfolio for reference: http://williamboakye.surge.sh
No matter where you are, there’s probably a dev slack channel in your area. Many of them have a specific room for jobs, or people just throw them into the main channel. Keep an eye on those. I managed to find a (short-lived) internship that way.
Once I managed to get myself in front of an interviewer, I did everything I could to charm their pants off. Remember, people hire people they like. Person A might be more skilled than person B, but if the interviewer felt more of a connection with person B, human nature is going to play a roll in person B getting the job. Most people don't see themselves as charming, but everyone has their own personal brand of charm. Charm doesn't necessarily have to be charismatic, wide-eyed, and chipper. Personally, I'm anything but that. Stay authentic to yourself and your charm will be deafening. As soon as I could, I tried to tactfully introduce some (appropriate) humor into the conversation. An interview is a very human interaction and, your biggest opportunity to build a necessary connection. People like people who can break the ice, and relieve the tension in the air. Make the conversation memorable and enjoyable. Don't forget to smile, an definitely don't forget a thank you note. The thank you note (email) is your last opportunity to solidify the connection you just made.
Above all, I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay persistent. If you thought the bootcamp was uncomfortable, the job search is uncomfortable AND lonely. There were many times that I thought I was in over my head. Don’t get discouraged by the inevitable “we decided to move forward with a different candidate,” email, or the “We think you might be a little too junior for the position,” response. They will come and they will sting, believe me, but you’ll instantly forget about them as you look forward to other opportunities.
I hope this helped. I tried to write what I would have liked to have read before starting this journey. I’m planning to write a bit on my first two weeks at the job, as well as about my bootcamp experiences. I love to share so please if you have any questions feel free to message me or reach out to me on Twitter: @BoakyeTweets.