How to Get your First Job as a Developer Without Having Experience
Getting the first job opportunity is not easy, especially when most vacancies ask for previous experience even for internship vacancies.
Now I ask you: What is your differential? Why would a recruiter choose you from 10, 50, or 100 candidates?
Experience is important, but it is not the only requirement for developer vacancies. There are many other ways to demonstrate capacity. And to help you differentiate yourself from so many other developers I will share with you these 5 ways to contrast yourself in a selection process without having previous experience!
1. Show that you search for knowledge
What are you doing to develop your skills as a developer? Courses? Personal projects? Reading technical books? Participating in IT events? Consuming videos or podcasts? All of these options are great ways to gain knowledge. And if you're already doing that, you're on the right path! If not, let's start?
In another blog post, I talked about "9 Ways a Front-end Developer Can Improve Technical Skills", in this post you'll find the best learning channels for front-end developers. I also have an e-book "The Ultimate Checklist for Front-end Developers", where you'll discover which skills you need to become a high skilled front-end developer with links to the websites you can learn about each skill.
Now the next step is to inform companies, mainly the recruiters, that you are a long learner developer, that you are always looking for learning and news. How? Update your LinkedIn and your resume, add all the courses you participated (even free ones from Codecademy) and the IT events you attended, tell them which technologies you are familiar with, in short, any information you find relevant.
At this point, you have no experience yet, but you can fill this gap in your resume with lots of other information that demonstrates that you are committed to learning how to become a fantastic developer.
2. Show that you share knowledge
Sharing is the best way to learn.
After all, nobody wants to take the risk of sharing the wrong information, right? So you can be sure that you will study twice, or even triple, on a subject before writing a post or recording a video talking about it.
The more you share, the more you learn and the more you deepen your knowledge, and this way you will have more and more things to share. You just need to find the way that suits you best: creating posts, tutorials, videos, talks, answering questions on the Stack Overflow, etc.
This ability to contribute to the IT community by sharing knowledge will show recruiters that you are the co-worker they would like to have: someone willing to help and teach your colleagues so that you can grow together, contributing to the performance of the team and the company.
3. Show what your skills are
You have already shown that you are determined to learn and share knowledge, but how will you show the recruiter the skills you have already acquired? Simple, you need a portfolio.
Every developer needs to have a profile on GitHub with projects that demonstrate their skills. And don't worry about becoming an expert first and then start creating your portfolio, not really, start now!
Every project can, and should, be improved, and that is what you will do with the projects in your portfolio, as you acquire knowledge, you will modify and improve the code of your projects. Everything is constant learning and evolution.
Start by reproducing existing solutions (have you ever thought how incredible it would be to recreate the Facebook or the New York Times website just for fun?) or looking for solutions to everyday problems (maybe a website for your aunt's Petshop?). The important thing is to take the first step. And now it's up to you!
Last action: also add your GitHub link to your resume and LinkedIn.
4. Show that you are interested in
Now that you have become a developer who is always looking to learn and share knowledge and already has your own portfolio to show recruiters your differential, you just need to take the next step: apply for vacancies.
Your CV and LinkedIn are already up to date and full of relevant information about you, so you only need to answer the recruiter why you are the ideal candidate for this position. And when recruiters ask this, what they really want to know is whether you fulfil the requirements of the vacancy. So let's go step by step:
Check the vacancy requirements.
- Do you not meet 100% of the requirements? Apply anyway! Most vacancies are filled by people who do not have all the requirements, after all, nobody is perfect, and every professional will always have the skills to develop.
- Do you not even meet half the requirements? Go back to item 1, study more and update your portfolio.
- Make a cover letter. Take advantage of this moment to say why you are qualified for the job even without having experience.
- In the interview, ask questions about the company, understand what the business is, what the challenges are, what activities you will perform, what support you will receive to continue developing, show that you are interested.
- After the interview, send a “thank you note” to the recruiter. Take this time to thank them for their time and support, preferably by email. Be creative, without losing formality, and use this space to make your mark and be remembered. In this way, you will express your continued interest in the company and the vacancy.
5. Be yourself
It's normal to want to show our best in the interview, but more important than that is to be ourselves. It sounds cliché, but trying to play a character, trying to be someone you are not or claiming to have more knowledge of what you have will only prejudice you.
The recruiters always know when you're being genuine and sincere, so it's okay to say "I don't know". It's unanimous: everyone prefers to hear a sincere “I don't know, but I can learn” than a “yes, I know” only to find out later that no, you didn't know.
So be yourself. Say what your strengths are, but don't be afraid or ashamed to say the points you still have to develop. Show that you are hardworking, dedicated and enthusiastic to learn. This will make you differentiate yourself from so many other candidates and get your first opportunity as a developer.
Now your task is to put all these steps into action and accelerate your career! Only depends on you.
Good luck. 🍀