So, you’re thinking of getting your first job in coding. You could just start applying, but you likely won’t get anywhere unless you set yourself up, first. Setting yourself up involves quite a lot in the beginning and it could even take a week or more. But eventually, once you get it all said and done and start your job search in earnest, you’ll have given yourself a much greater chance of success.
I figured I’d make a blog detailing the most important things to do and detail how and why you do them.
So let’s begin, shall we? We’ll start with the easy(ish) stuff.
First you should start or have already made a few accounts.
GitHub is an essential. It is a platform that provides hosting of users’ code and version control. You’ll likely already have an account on here if you’ve been doing any significant coding. I doubt many employers would give you second look if you did not have a GitHub account. Make sure you have a few of your projects or work on there and have at least one that you regularly update to show that you’re on there doing stuff quite a bit.
LinkedIn is a social media platform designed specifically for professionals, both employees and employers. It is an important tool for connecting these days and it is imperative that you make a LinkedIn profile to connect with other coders.
Medium is a popular site where users publish blogs. It is essential to have a website where you are writing blogs. Medium isn’t really essential in and of itself, it just so happens to be free and widely used, but you can use any blog site or create your own blog site. Which leads me to:
Blogs are an important step in both finding employment and increasing your own understanding of code. When potential employers see that a canidate has a blog where they write about what they learned or are interested in, it shows them that this is a person who is excited and invested enough in coding to spend time writing a blog in order to share their knowledge with others. At the same time, writing a blog about some new coding practice you’re learning will force you to understand it enough to be able to explain it properly.
Blogs don’t need to be purely about some new coding language or practice either. It can simply be code-focused, i.e. “How I Started My Coding Journey” or “5 Funny Things Coders Do”.
Blogs can be really important and I’ve heard lots of stories of people getting jobs just because of them.
Next, you’ll want to set up your CV/Resume (CV for UK, Resume for US). You’ll probably already know exactly how important this is as it is used for all jobs, not just coding-specific. BUT you can, and should, tailor your CV for your specific field, which is coding in this case.
If you have attended a coding bootcamp or even have a degree related to coding such as Computer Science, be sure to put in your Education section. Similarly for work history, if you have any coding internships or small contract work you’ve done, you should draw attention to that in your Work History section. If not though, don’t worry about to much about it. I don’t have any related work either.
You should also make sure to make, and draw attention to, a skills section. Here, you’ll list out all the skills you have, which is the first thing the person recruiting will look for to see if you have skills that gel with their position.
As an aside: This usually comes up in tandem with a submitting a CV, but you should make a good Cover Letter to send out with your application. I personally use a template format and leave spots for the company name and position that I can quickly tailor for each job. So spend a fair amount of time on your Cover Letter because you’ll be using it a lot.
An extra aside: You really want to have a CV that stands out. Mine kinda has cool brown/cream color scheme with dashes of color, but you do something that speaks to you. Just do it with style. A CV is allowed to be a little fun. I used the site Canva to make mine, which was really simple, but whatever works for you is great.
Lastly, you’ll absolutely want a section on your Projects:
This is one of the most important things that will stick out to employers is your personal projects. These are the products of your applied knowledge. It shows people your skills aren’t just theory, but are able to be used to create something. You don’t need 20 projects under your belt just to get an entry-level position. Just a few, two to three (hell, even maybe one) well done projects that you’ve clearly put a lot of work and heart into is more than enough.
Once you have made these projects (or already have them done!) you want to provide the links to the projects’ respective GitHub repositories, demos that you’ve put on YouTube, and, if you are able to host the project, urls to the working project itself. Where do you put those links? Everywhere! LinkedIn, your CV, and, if you got it, your personal website:
A personal website can be a great, and some would say, essential (there’s our buzzword of the day again), way to market yourself. It doesn’t need to be extra flashy. A single page website that provides a little insight into who you are and your interests, skills, projects, and a link to download your CV. It can be a quick, fun way to put something together, and kinda counts as a project in its own right.
If you’re already done with all the other stuff, why not give it a go?
And that’ll conclude this blog on setting up your first code-focused job search. I wish you all the luck. Don’t get demotivated, getting that first job is the hardest part, but once you get it all the work will have been worth it.