Networking to get your first web-development job
Getting your first web development job can certainly be a daunting task. Never mind trying to learn how to program and the ins and outs of writing the code. Landing your first web development job presents its own unique set of challenges.
I know this topic has been beaten to death in the tech industry, but it never hurts to have another perspective and I'm hoping I can shed some light on my process and hopefully help you too. It hasn't been easy, but I feel like that's not always the case, this is just my journey.
Don't believe the job description
If you've looked at job boards, you've likely seen a job posting that goes something like this:
Junior web developer
Must know React, Vue, Angular, Node, DevOps, DevRel, design systems, UX/UI
1,300 years of experience in being a CEO
Now, that is not a real description, but it's close enough to what job descriptions feel. They usually have requirements that seem unrealistic and taken at face-value, they are.
A lot of the time job descriptions aren't written by developers. Every company is different, obviously, but most of the time it's written by someone from HR without knowledge of what is needed; it's sort of like a perfect scenario type of thing.
Job descriptions can be very intimidating though, especially when you're trying to get your first job. You'll sit there and look at it and think there's no way you could fill all those roles, but you're not alone. Everyone has felt that way.
The important thing to remember is you're not expected to know everything, if you do, you're probably over-qualified and should be looking for something else.
It's also a good idea to apply for jobs where you don't quite know everything because that will allow you to learn something new.
If you ask anyone, they will tell you the same thing: apply anyway.
Networking over applying
I've sent in my fair share of resumes and been through a handful of interviews (even ghosted a few too due to anxiety). Anxiety was a large part of my journey and why it took me so long to get my first job. It wasn't the only reason. I spent a lot of the time learning and building my own projects. One of which is in production and being used by a handful of people.
What did work wonders, however, was networking; especially on Twitter.
Networking can happen anywhere: you could go to a meetup, introduce yourself and engage on social media, blog. Where you can find people to talk to, you can find opportunities to network.
I've seen many, many people, get jobs because they were active on Twitter and networked with developers in their field. Not only do you meet like-minded individuals who share the same interests as you, but you also get your name in front of people.
One of my Twitter friends encouraged me to send in a resume to the company he worked for and that he would make the necessary introductions to get me an interview. I was excited, but a little hesitant because I had been down this road before, so I wasn't sure how it would play out, but wouldn't you know it, it paid off.
I'm incredibly thankful to him for giving me the chance and opportunity to get into the field. However, that would be a post for a different day.
Build your confidence
When you network with other developers and business owners, you give yourself the opportunity to build confidence in yourself and what you know.
I had an interview with a fast-growing company and one whose product I'd used in the past. We had some pretty good conversations, but ultimately it didn't go anywhere and I didn't get this interview by networking with anyone.
What I did get though, is a new developer to connect with on Twitter. Even though I didn't get the job, I asked for feedback so I could increase my chances next time.
He gave me amazing feedback that really helped me out and followed me on Twitter (other platforms) too. From this interview opportunity, I gained a new internet friend - a person to connect with, and another opportunity to network.
So, what's next?
We've sort of talked about the benefits with networking and my personal experience in the matter, but I'd like to layout some practical examples of networking on social media that I believe helped me, and what might help you.
Create a social media presence. I would suggest Twitter or LinkedIn.
Follow people in your space and interact frequently in a polite and friendly way. You don't want to network with the sole purpose of getting a job or making it obvious that's why you're here. First and foremost, you're here to meet like-minded people and make friends - anything beyond that, is gravy.
Create a blog. This gives you content to share with your network and let's them know, you know, what you're talking about (and it's generally just fun).
Avoid hard-selling or self-promoting often. I think it's important to have a healthy balance between self-promotion and genuinely interacting with others. If in every interaction you're trying to push your brand new this or your awesome that, people are going to see that and form ideas about your intentions.
Be on your best behaviour: everything you post online, stays online.
Don't give up
I know that sending in endless resumes can get tiring after a while. And, there are a lot of factors that are at play when you're applying for jobs, but don't give up on the networking aspect.
Let me know on Twitter at @imtyrelchambers if this post has helped you or if networking helped get you your first job.