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Stand out when applying for jobs

Mads Brodt • May, 2021

3 min read

One of the questions I get the most is how someone can go about landing a development job, especially their first one. It's an amazing question, and the correct answer differs a lot based on the situation of the person asking it. There's many things to take into consideration like education, skills, location etc. that makes it hard to answer generally.

On top of that, one of the coolest things about web development is that it's very accessible. Anybody can download VsCode, create a file, and start programming. This makes it great for beginners to break into the field, but it also means that competition is fierce for any development position.

Fortunately, I've compiled a few key tips that will greatly improve your chances of standing out and landing a development job:

  1. Make sure you have a portfolio of work. It doesn't matter for how long you've been working in the industry... The best way to show companies that you are capable of doing the job, is to actually show them projects you've worked on. It doesn't need to be large projects. Small, but completed side projects that you've created entirely by yourself, and put online for the world to see, is more than enough. It shows your drive and your ability to stay focused on the end-goal of releasing software. 2-3 projects on a portfolio is ideal, just make sure they're polished.

  2. Spend time tailoring your application and making sure it's free of errors. I can't stress this enough. Sloppy, unfocused applications riddled with spelling mistakes are guaranteed to get discarded immediately. Try to put yourself in the company's shoes: Would you hire someone who sent the same, error-filled resumé to 100 companies, or would you hire the person who went the extra mile to create an awesome application specifically for your open position? It's a no-brainer. And since you only need one company to offer you a position, the extra time investment is well worth it.

  3. Be proactive. This one comes entirely from personal experience, as I've always had great results being proactive in the application process. For my first job, I had a chat with the company before applying, telling them I didn't fit all of the requirements but was super passionate to learn. They told me to apply anyway, so I did it on the same day. Whenever they emailed me, I'd respond right away. I had questions prepared for the interviews, because I genuinely wanted to learn more about the company and the position. When I got the job, they told me a big part of it had been my drive through the entire application process, rather than my technical skills (which were lacking at the time).

As mentioned earlier, landing a development job can be a difficult task, and there's many external factors at play. But there's also lots of stuff you can do to increase your chance of getting hired 10-fold, and these 3 tips are just a few methods you can apply in your own job search.

For more tips, I recommend an episode from one of my favourite podcasts, Full Stack Radio, on standing out when applying for jobs at a small company. The episode is hosted by 2 people in charge of hiring at their own startups, so it's a great look into what happens "on the other side".

Check out the podcast

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 👆

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