Cheat Sheet

Getting a Coding Job For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Getting a Coding Job For Dummies

By Nikhil Abraham

Code runs the applications you use daily. With every day, more employers are looking for people who know how to code. Despite all the demand, you can’t just walk off the street and into a company’s offices. You’ll need to spend some effort finding the jobs that are out there, interviewing at companies you like, and getting an offer. During the interview and application process, don’t get discouraged, and learn from each experience. These tips will make your search and interview process a little easier.

Searching for a Coding Job

After you’ve learned to code, it’s time to begin your job search. Whether you’re an undergraduate looking for your first full-time job or a professional with work experience looking to switch careers, your search will take time as you learn what you want in a company and as companies learn more about you. If you just learned how to code, and especially if you’re self-taught, use these tips to make your job search easier:

  • Squash imposter syndrome: Sometimes you might feel as if you don’t belong, or that you don’t have enough coding knowledge. These feelings of being an imposter in the industry can negatively affect your search and interview process. Squash these feelings by recognizing that others experience these feelings, you know more than you think, and companies are talking to you because you’re qualified and your skills are in demand.

  • Network intensely: While it might be tempting to be shy, now is the time to talk to as many people as possible about your goal to get a coding job. Contact family members, friends, and former coworkers, and ask if they know anyone who has a coding job. In addition, you’ll need to cultivate new contacts by reaching out to people who have coding jobs to see if they can provide advice or connections.

    Use LinkedIn to find connections through people you already know, including contacts with whom you share a mutual connection, as well as through people you have no connection to that you’ll be contacting for the first time. You can also increase your ability to be found on LinkedIn by completing the skills section and having those who know you submit a public endorsement of your skills.

  • Stay flexible: Ordinarily when job hunting, you might specifically target all companies in a certain location. Be open to job opportunities in cities you haven’t previously considered working and with companies you haven’t heard of before. You want a technical position on your resume, and you may need to be flexible to get it.

  • Keep coding: If you’ve just learned how to code, especially at a boot camp, you’ve worked hard. You may be tempted to take a vacation and stop coding. Don’t stop coding! Keep your skills sharp, and increase your portfolio by continuing to code projects.

  • Set up your portfolio site: When considering your application, a potential employer will want to know what you’ve built. Create a portfolio site to showcase your projects and skills, and make sure to include links to your GitHub, LinkedIn, and social media profiles.

  • Brand yourself consistently: Your resume, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio site all tell a story about you and shape your personal brand. These materials should complement each other and project a consistent story. If your personal brand tells an inconsistent story, it could raise red flags with prospective employers. For example, if you’re applying for a front-end web developer position and your resume highlights your use of database tools and your portfolio site lacks any front-end website examples, an interviewer might question your desire and commitment to be a front-end web developer.

Performing in a Coding Interview

You’ve filtered coding job postings, networked with dozens of people, created a great portfolio site, and finally landed one or more interviews. Use these tips to maximize the chances of turning the interview into an offer for employment:

  • Prepare diligently: Review the company’s website, blog posts, news releases, tweets, and any other social media to learn more about the company’s culture, technologies, and past clients. For public companies, browse annual reports to get a sense for past performance and future strategic goals.

  • Advocate for yourself: You know what you want and why, so make sure you communicate that to your future potential employer. Think about why you want to work at the company, which product you’d be most excited to work on, and what you want to spend the next few months and years learning technically. If you don’t have any preferences or thoughts, it can be hard for an employer to believe that you’re excited about the company and that you’ll have the motivation to keep learning on the job.

  • Sharpen technical skills: Assessment of technical skills are the big part of any coding interview, so review code for programs you’ve already built and make sure you understand why you made certain decisions and used certain technologies. A big part of your job will be deciding what tools to use and when, and employers want to see as soon as possible your thought process on how you choose your tools.

    If you’re asked a technical question and you just don’t know the answer, be upfront that you don’t know (no one knows everything). But then do your best to reason and think out loud to drive to the best possible guess.

  • Show your fit: Many candidates are technically competent but fail the fit interview. Make sure you understand before the interview the company’s culture and values so you’ll have time to see whether you’ll fit in.

  • Ask questions: Demonstrate your passion by asking questions that are not answered on the company website. Your interviewer has likely just spent thirty minutes asking you personal questions, so feel free to ask some personal questions of your own about the role, the work, or the company.

  • Follow up: After the interview is over, your interviewers will categorize you as a definite hire, possible hire, or rejected candidate. Many people fall into the possible hire category, and following up with your interviewers can increase your chances of receiving an offer. After your interview, send a short email thanking your interviewers, reinforcing your key skills, and addressing any weak areas that came up during the interview. Additionally, include a brief reference to any personal interests you shared with your interviewers to help them remember you.