Find your first tech job by being first

Recently I graduated and went searching for my first developer job. Like many others, I found that applying in bulk finds little success. After sending out hundreds of applications I found little success and although I had many callbacks I was not always standing out in the interviews. Here are my recommendations for getting callbacks.

1. Every time you apply to a company, bookmark the career page for the company in your browser in a few folders called “Applied” or “Interested”

Some advertising sites(indeed, glassdoor, hired, etc.) show the postings as newer than they are. Aside from being misleading, they are often old stale applications. So keep a list of career pages so that you can easily keep track.

2. Every morning or afternoon, set an alarm and go to each of these career pages and apply to jobs that are newer than 3 days old

Applying first is the most important step. By applying directly on their career page, you can be sure that the listings are new, and that you are in their list before they start interviewing. I can’t tell you how many times I followed up with a company to have them inform me that the jobs listing was stale and they had already done interviews.

3. Study the basics

As a developer, you should know OOP concepts, some basic patterns, and the basics about the language you want to be hired for. Just search something like “basic programming questions in python” in Google and read some every day.

4. Use a site like codesignal, hackerrank, or leetcode to practice your white boarding skills

I used code signal for a few months and was able to get Google to fly me out to California without any other coding practice. These questions are small enough that you can accomplish one medium difficulty problem per day. In the end, these really help keep you sharp. No, I don’t recommend using these as your main source of getting jobs. See steps 1 and 2.

Here is a list of acceptable sites for this:

codesignal hackerrank leetcode coderbyte codewars

5. Select the job

In the end, I was offered 3 opportunities with similar salaries. However, I ended up taking the one with the big company and the friendly team. The interviewer was the lead developer on the project and I was able to see that the community was good. Horror stories about first dev jobs often talk about how the environment was toxic and noone wanted to help them learn. Big companies also have big teams that can afford to teach junior developers so that can help too. Some big companies are bad too though so be sure to meet the team and follow your gut.

6. Negotiate your salary.

I am not an expert on this and am still learning. Google this for tips from experienced devs who know the best methods. Never accept the first offer and don’t underpay yourself because you are scared. If they want to hire you, you have value. Focus on steps 1 and 2. These are the most important factors I saw that helped me get multiple offers.

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Good luck to all my fellow developers out there.


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