Whether it’s front-end, back-end, mobile or web, every professional software developer started somewhere. If you’re straight out of University looking for your first job in the field, trying to make a career change, or transitioning to work with new technology, there are a few things you will probably need to do before even applying for jobs.
Where do I start?
It's important where you start—it may and probably will shape everything that happens next! You don't want to look back and think "It was a waste of time" or "I regret I didn't choose another tech/team/industry to work with".
However, it is difficult to have a very specific plan, especially at the beginning of your venture. We all get excited about new opportunities and these motivations are a good place to start when we want to narrow down the roles and companies we will be targeting.
1) Research the market!
If you're thinking of working with particular technology, find out which companies are hiring lots of specific developers. LinkedIn is a good start for this, even with a basic profile you can search and determine which companies hire for specific technology.
2) Make a list
If you don't have a particular company in mind start by finding out about industry leaders—search engines are your friends, you can check and find out about more industry-specific rankings. For example, for top ad agencies, you'd probably go to Campaign's Top 100 agencies, or see who won Cannes Lions or D&AD last year.
Great, now you have a list of companies you’d love to work for, what’s next?
Practice makes perfect
Applying for your dream job first may work and your first application might be successful, however applying and interviewing for jobs is a job within itself. And you get better at it along the way.
We all dream about the perfect situation where we can pick and choose our next job from an array of good offers. So since you’ve made a list of companies and job ads you want to prioritise start from the bottom and:
1) Customise your application for each role.
You don’t have to write everything from scratch each time but have a core CV that matches your LinkedIn profile and website. You can then edit and add to your application making sure that each time when applying you meet all or majority of requirements listed in the job description.
Your CV is your core application document in the UK so it really should be clear but detailed enough. Often the first person to look at it is non-technical. Ask friends and family to check it to make sure that somebody from a completely different background could understand your previous roles and experience.
2) Follow up on that application.
If you’re using LinkedIn to apply for a role, you’ll usually be able to see who posted the job, you can connect with them and drop them a message to follow up on your application. By connecting with them, this will also keep you in the loop about any further opportunities that might be available.
“It’s not about what you know...but who”
This might still be true for some industries but tech is different. You will get hired because you have the skills that others don’t. Best way to show your future employer the level of your skills and commitment is to:
1) Get involved,
Go to meetups or get active on forums. The digital world is constantly evolving, if you’re serious about starting a career as a software developer you need to stay in the know. Make sure you network at those events, sometimes…
2) Show your work to the world!
Make a website to showcase your work and your skills. I know this is super basic but make sure that it WORKS – check how it looks and opens in different browsers and on different platforms.
Keep your most precious work on GitHub to share the love. Perhaps start contributing to open source projects? Once your work gets recognised by the community, you most likely won’t need to apply for jobs ever again ;)
Feeling a bit stuck? Get in touch with a recruiter
At Handle, we’re specialists in our field. We’ve built very strong relationships with our clients and can advise on your next move or help to make that first introduction to your dream company.
Get in touch with a consultant from our Digital and Tech team today.