Published on Sep 14, 2016
How do you get hired as a programmer?
DON'T just send in resumes.
DO build your skills, make friends, and make yourself a less risky gamble for employers.
- Make Cool Stuff
- Meet programmer friends
- Show your cool stuff to your programmer friends
- Repeat until hired
This is a crash course on how to get hired as a developer. So if your first contact is a resume, then you’ve already failed. That’s because people hire people, they don’t hire resumes. Specifically, junior devs are risky, and you need to do whatever you can to reduce that risk. And if you send in a resume, especially one that shows that you’re a junior dev and not a senior dev, then it’s just going to be a bunch of red flags. Risk, risk, risk. You don’t know this tech knowledge, you haven’t worked in a team before, that sort of thing. You need to do whatever you can to reduce that risk for your employer.
So here’s your 80% plan, the things that you can do, the simple things you can do that will get you 80% of the way there. So first, you make cool stuff. Then, you meet programmer friends. Then you show your cool stuff to the programmer friends, not in a ‘here stuff, please hire me’ sort of way, but as in like ‘hey, here’s the stuff’. And if they mention that someone is hiring, be like yeah, I would love to be hired. And then you repeat that until you’re employed.
What I like about this plan is that it’s fairly simple, and everything you do while on this plan is increasing your skill as a developer, your hireability, and your value to the company once you’re already hired, in addition to reducing the risk for the person hiring you. It’s also flexible depending on what sort of situation you’re in. So if you’re in a tech hub, that’s amazing. You can meet programmer friends in person at meetups, and you can show them the cool stuff on your computer. But if you’re living in a place that doesn’t have as many programmers, then you can still do this online. You can put up your code on GitHub, you can write the blog posts, you can interact with people by helping fix bugs and commenting on things, being on Twitter and Slack and things like that.
So there you can make the cool stuff, show it off to people, and meet new programmer friends. And online the etiquette is a little bit different. It’s fine at the end of a blog post or in your GitHub README of a project you make to say by the way, please hire me, because that’s a different type of interaction model. It’s weird if you say it to an in-person friend, because that’s a more personal interaction, but it’s okay to say it at the end of a blog post or in the README of a GitHub project because that’s a more transactional interaction. Plus when you’re talking to someone in person, it’s likely that they’ll ask you where you work, and then you can say oh, I’m looking for a job.
Anyways, that’s the plan I recommend. I call it the 80% plan based on the Pareto Principle which says there’s always something you can do that for 20% of the effort, you’ll get 80% of the way there. And this is 20% of the knowledge about how to understand the job market that will get you 80% of the benefit. But if you want to know more, then I do have a career podcast called CAREER.JS that I cohost, and we’re not super experts on careers, no one’s a super expert on career, but we’ve been around for a while and we interview people who know even more than us, so this could be helpful for if you’re trying to find your first job or upgrade jobs or trying to figure out what to do with your career.