Are you struggling to get your first developer job with no experience?
How do you get that experience if nobody will hire a developer with no experience?
It’s kind of a catch 22, or is it?
Well, in this article we are going to look at how to find a developer job even if you don’t have work experience. I am going to highlight a 7 step process you should take to move from a complete beginner to landing your first developer job in 2021.
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This guide will help you get you first job as a web or mobile app developer.
Step 1. Learn to code
Getting your first software developer job begins by learning to code.
This is what you will be hired to do, to code software and applications. So you should be able to do it, and do it really well.
There are various ways you could learn to code in one of the best programming languages and get really good at it.
But the best way to learn to code, the way that will give you results in half the time is to teach yourself to code.
Yes, teach yourself.
When you teach yourself how to code, you are able to filter out the noise and only focus on the material and content that you really need to get hired as a software developer.
If you teach yourself to code you will reach an employable level much quicker, probably in just a few months.
So how exactly do you teach yourself how to code?
Take an online course…
The most common and fun way of learning to code if you want to get a developer job quickly is to take an online coding course.
Video courses that are well done are a great way to get started learning to code if have no coding experience.
When you interact with the instructor’s authentic voice, it becomes easier to learn. The instructor is able to stress on key points that are very important in your day to day job as a developer.
There are great online platforms for learning where you could take a premium or free course and get started learning.
Step 2. Network with other developers.
The software developer job market has become so dynamic.
You will mostly likely have success getting your first developer job by relying on your network than by frequenting developer job listing websites.
Competition for software developer jobs with no experience has gone high.
Quite often developer job opportunities are not advertised to the public. If you have the right connection at the right time, you might get alerted about an opening at a startup so that you could go give it a shot.
There are two most common ways to network and meet other app developers.
Using a website like Meetup.com will help you locate nearby relevant software development Meetup groups in your locality, like iOS development meetups.
During these Meetups guys get to share best practices in particular software development technologies.
People also frequent these Meetups to find passionate programmers who could collaborate with them on a project.
Some programmer you might meet here knows a startup that is hiring a junior developer.
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that will connect you with other developers regardless of their geographical locations.
LinkedIn makes it much easier to reach out to your connections when you are separated geographically.
You could simply drop them a message or share with them interesting materials and opportunities.
This constant communication will keep you in their radar which might be very useful when the right developer job opportunity surfaces.
Step 3. Build a portfolio of projects.
When looking for a junior software developer job, you should be able to demonstrate your skills.
A portfolio of the previous software and apps you’ve built, well displayed, goes a long way to demonstrate what you are capable of doing.
But where do you get the software projects to include in your portfolio when you are a complete beginner and have no experience?
i. Take freelance projects
Nobody will hire you if you don’t have any previous record of work or tasks that you have successfully accomplished as a junior developer.
In order to get your first junior developer job, you need a way to demonstrate this somehow. Freelancing is the easiest place to start.
These are the projects that you will later include in your portfolio of, say, Android app development projects.
Start from your inner circle of friends and relatives...
They are the easiest starting point, so approach one of your friends or relatives, tell them about what you do and see if you could them a web or mobile app for their business.
In most cases you will take on these development projects for free.
Don’t worry about the pay for the start. These projects are a great opportunity to learn. You are still green and you need something to get your hands on in order to sharpen your skills.
When you build something great, these friends will be able to connect you to your next paying client and there you go: your career just launched!
Check with local businesses…
As for real businesses, don’t seek to work for free as a junior software developer. You could accept to work at a lower price but NOT for free.
You work for a lower price because you want to win them. You are a junior developer and your rates are not established yet because you have no experience.
Once you get accepted for this project, do your best. Apply yourself to learn as quickly as you possibly can and stick to deadlines and schedules.
You will need a great recommendation from this client later on. So prove your competence now. Nobody wants to hire a mediocre developer.
ii. Start your own projects
A great alternative when you are looking to build your portfolio is to start your own custom web or mobile app project.
This could be some simple application that solves a particular problem that people experience.
It could as well be an Android application that automates some manual task that people perform each day.
The key point is to build an something that can actually be run and tested.
Something you can use as a starting point to learn and demonstrate your skills when looking for your first junior developer job.
iii. Contribute to Open Source Projects
Another fun and exciting way how to get your first developer job with no experience is to join a GitHub community and contribute to open source projects.
There are various ways you could contribute:
- By improving the software documentation
- By translating the documentation to your first language
- By participating in software testing, or
- By submitting code to build features or fix bugs
Open source contributions add a great deal of credibility to your portfolio.
As a developer with no experience, getting started with open source projects will prove a great challenge because most projects require quite technical skills that you might have yet developed.
However, it is really worthwhile because you will have a great opportunity to network, learn great coding practices, learn team collaboration and improve your communications skills… which are key to getting a junior developer job.
Step 4. Get recommendations.
You have learnt to code and honed the skills you need to get a junior developer job.
It’s time for you to start thinking of getting your first real developer job, right? It’s time to collect those recommendations first.
This is where your previous clients really come in handy.
Approach your previous clients who you worked with and see if they can write you a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Add your previous projects too on LinkedIn. It will be easier for someone to counter check your recommendations against your projects to ascertain the validity of your recommendations.
A recommendation on your profile will add a great deal of credibility to your portfolio as a junior developer.
Make sure that the person who is writing you the recommendation is willing and able to give you a good reference.
That’s really important because your references can be what makes the difference in getting – or not getting – a junior developer job offer.
Step 5. Apply for developer jobs.
If you want to find a junior developer job, you must know where to find and how to apply for these developer job vacancies.
In this step we are going to learn how to find junior developer jobs as well as a better process to follow for your job applications to be more successful.
i. Start With Your Inner Circle
Before you reach out for the developer job ad boards, start with your inner circle of friends, connections and family when looking for a job.
This is the time the connections you made earlier really play a big role.
Check with your connections if they know a startup that is hiring for, say, an iOS developmet position. Or better still… check if they know someone who knows someone who is hiring a junior developer. Sounds funny, right?
Recruiters always have two piles of resumes while recruiting for a position.
The huge pile of job applications unsolicited from the internet, and the smaller heap handed in person by someone they already know or worked with before.
The smaller pile is considered more favorably!
ii. Check job boards
After checking with your friends and connections, the next place you will find developer job opportunities advertised are the job listing sites.
This could be online listings or listings in your local town, probably in the physical notice boards.
Always take your time to read a junior developer job ad carefully to understand the requirements fully and any additional information that may be required.
Some junior developer jobs might require you to have skills in specific technologies like Swift or Koltin, so upgrade your skills first by taking these Swift tutorials on Udemy.
This will also help you when crafting your developer job application to ensure you include all the information that may be required and that you meet the bare minimum of the requirements.
iii. Follow up
After you send out your developer job applications to a number of companies, probably you are not going to hear back from any of them.
This is the time you want to check back with them to see if they really received your job application.
Many a time a follow up email has evoked a positive response from the company.
An ideal time to follow up would be after 2 weeks from the time you handed in your application.
Don’t get offended if a company does not respond to your email even after a follow up.
This is why a stress a lot on networking beforehand as having the right connections will play a great role in making your junior developer job search a success.
Step 6. Pass the technical interview.
The most terrifyng hurdle that stands between a junior developer and a job offer is the technical interview.
In this step, we are going to learn how to approach the technical interview feeling confidence and prepared if you want to get your first junior developer job.
After you’ve applied to a couple of developer jobs and done it the right way, you’ll luckily land a developer job interview.
A developer job interview might begin with an acceptance email, then phone screening to assess your language ability or personality, then either an online or onsite interview.
Often than not this might follow with a technical interview if you passed some of the previous tests.
Most junior developers overthink the technical interview process and approach it feeling unprepared and nervous.
Confidence is key to having a successful developer job interview, even if you have no experience.
Here are a few technical interview tips to put you on your best game…
Before your developer job interview, start preparing.
Working through a preparation book will not only refresh your algorithms and data structures knowledge, but it’ll also put you in the right problem-solving mindset.
Most technical interviews will not test specific technologies like Xamarin app development or React Native, they’ll instead mostly test your general programming skills in languages like Java, Python or C++.
I personally use and recommend Codility.com to brush up my algorithm and problem solving skills in either Python, Java or C++.
Practice beats panic. So start white-boarding whenever you can, even with really small problems, if you really want to land your first developer job.
The more comfortable you are with marking up that white board at home, the less hesitant you’ll be at the job interview.
ii. Ask Questions
During your technical developer job interview, when you’re presented with a problem, think it through and make sure you fully understand what you’re being asked to solve.
Ask questions to understand what the interviewers are looking for and what your constraints are—for example,
- Is there a specific language you’d like me to give you my solution in?
- Can I assume I have access to any Java library?
And don’t make assumptions.
Even if you’re pretty sure it’s safe, mention out loud what it is you’re thinking so the interviewers can let you know if you’re missing something.
iii. Take Your Time
Once you understand the question you’re being asked, don’t be afraid to take a minute to think and process before you start solving the problem.
As long as you aren’t being bombarded with quick, knowledge based questions, pausing after being asked the question is a good thing.
The point is to use your time up front to structure your approach, not to try to write all the code in your head before you touch the marker to whiteboard.
As a junior developer, it’s fine to pseudo-code the overall structure, as long as you tell the interviewers that that’s what you’re doing and that you intend to go back and actually code it later.
It’s a good way to offload the organizing of the problem so your brain has more room for processing.
iv. Talk It Out
Bring your interviewers in the room along with you in your problem solving during your technical developer job interview.
Talking through your thought process gives your interviewers a window into how you think, and that’s ultimately the point of the technical interview.
Even if you think your solution is amazing, it’s better for them to know how you approached the problem and got to your answer than to see the full-fledged answer and not have a clue about what led you there.
It also gives the interviewers a chance to help you along your coding interview if you’re stuck or are going down a path that’s a dead end.
v. Have Fun
The thought of failing the developer job interview while job hunting makes most junior developers go through technical interview feeling the pressure, as if it was a matter of life and death.
This makes you to forget about the most important experience for yourself… the learning and the fun involved.
Hopefully, you will learn something new in each interview — you’ll acquire a new idea or new tool, or get some insight into interesting products and technology.
The more you think about your developer job interviews in this way, the more valuable that time will be to you in the long run.
Step 7. Perform on the job.
After a couple successful technical interviews you will finally get your first junior developer job even if you have no experience.
But what next after landing your first, say, React Native development job? Are you prepared to walk right in there and deliver?
You might think that getting your first developer job is the only thing that matters but you are wrong.
If you walk right in there and fail to deliver on the job, you will be kicked out faster than you can utter the words “I am sorry”.
So, in this step I am going to give you a few tips on how to perform at your junior developer job and become a great software developer.
i. Build things
Being a professional software developer is about building things… you build apps that solve problems.
You should enjoy the process of getting something to work.
In your entire career as a software developer you are either going to be
- Building software from scratch or
- Maintaining & debugging code that was built by another developer.
If you don’t find fun in getting stuff to work and then putting it in the hands of people, your profession as a junior developer will suck.
This might also mean you go out of your way to learn other trending technologies like augmented realilty in order to deliver stunning apps.
ii. Embrace team work
Invite other developers to work with you on your project. Trying to go it alone will pile pressure on top of your head.
I always wanted to do everything by myself in the early stages of my career as a junior developer BUT it’s a path I DON’T frequent anymore.
If you want to succeed as a junior developer you should be open to learning from others. Depending on the size of your company and the budget, you might not be able to work as a team on a project.
That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for you. Consult with your peer developers when you are stuck.
I use QA sites like Stackoverflow.com and see if there are similar solutions to my problem before I go all out to code the solution myself.
iii. Accept Criticism
After getting your first software developer job, many a times your code will be taken for review by other senior developers.
Taking offense from negative code reviews, will hurt your chances of being happy at your job and your chances of growing and getting better too.
Look for something positive in the negative code review from the panel room, even if you are not experienced in this.
If it’s got to do with code indentation or variable naming conventions, whichever, make it right.
It is important to note that no code is ever perfect. That is the main focus of this point. Take criticism positively. Don’t let it get into you.
There is no magic push button on how to get your first junior developer job without experience.
However, with a proven strategy executed with diligence, getting a junior software developer job will be an easier and fun experience, even if it is in iOS game development.
Often than not you will have to put in the hours of hard work, but consistency is key to getting the doors open to you… and landing your first developer job.
I hope this guide has helped you create a plan that will help find a developer job that you’ve dreamed of and worked so hard for, even if you don’t have experience.
By following these steps, you will better your skills, expand your network, grow as a person, reach the audience you were meant to serve and grow your developer career.
Are you intimidated by the amount of work that you have to put in to land a junior developer job?
Are there some steps that were not clear and you need more clarification on how to get your first developer job?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll be glad to give you more insights into how to get a developer job without experience