The job market for junior developers has never been harder.
Because of the current markets and world situation, companies are prioritizing hiring more experienced developers instead - sometimes even freezing hiring all together.
At the same time, the amount of new bootcamp and university grads is increasing. So with fewer jobs to go around, the competition is crazy for less experieced devs.
Knowing and accepting the fact that it will be difficult to land a job is a good first step - because it allows you to focus on a few key things that might actually make a difference:
1. Apply to more "traditional" or "boring" companies
Tech companies get a ridiculous amount of applications, so the chance of you making it through are slim to none. But if you instead focus on more traditional companies in your area, the competition will be way smaller by default.
It might not be the most exciting work. But for your first job, the only goal should be to get started somewhere. You'll improve a lot faster this way - and you'll have some practical experience to use when applying for your next job.
2. Focus on local companies instead of remote ones
When you apply for a remote role, you're competing with every other junior developer in the world. But if you instead apply for local companies close to you, you're "only" competing against people in your area.
Companies hiring locally and requiring time in the office are also more likely to hire juniors, as they can better guide and mentor them (compared to remote where companies will always prefer experienced devs that can manage themselves).
3. Improve your resume / profile while applying
Regardless of where you decide to apply, you still need to stand out of the crowd. That's why it's crucial that you don't spend all your time applying - but at the same time work on improving your profile to make you a more attractive candidate.
This can mean building your portfolio, updating your online profiles and cleaning up your CV. It can also mean writing blog posts or creating educational content on social media. It all adds up when companies are looking for the right candidate.
4. Do whatever you can to gather experience
The biggest concern companies have when hiring juniors is that they will require too much help before becoming productive. Aka, they are worried about your lack of experience.
But you can offset that by building side projects, contributing to open source or even take on some real-world client projects for free or cheap while applying. That'll show companies you know how to ship real things to the world. And that you're a passionate go-getter willing to invest time and energy to improve your skills.
5. Join a community
Another thing you can do to help yourself is join a community of people in the same boat as you. That can be on Reddit, Discord, Twitter etc. Take the opportunity to learn from likeminded people - what is and isn't working for them when applying, what types of companies are they applying to etc.
It can also serve as a motivational boost just to have others in the same situation as you.
I know it can be tough and demoralizing when you constantly apply to hundreds of companies and keep getting rejected (or worse: never hear anything back).
That's why I hope these tips can help you on your journey to landing that first coding job.
Because I promise you: it's all worth it in the end - and coding is an incredibly fun, interesting and lucrative career.
You just need to get started.
I'm Mads Brodt — a developer, author, teacher, creator and blogger. To keep up with all of my writing, follow me on Twitter or sign up with your email above 👆