Cheat Sheet

Getting a Web Development Job For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Getting a Web Development Job For Dummies

By Kathleen Taylor, Bud E. Smith

Need help with your web-development job search? In the booming world of high tech, employers are looking for qualified web developers to fill jobs. Get ahead of the pack by creating a portfolio site to showcase your great skills and best work. And while you’re at it, explore some tips (including a sample resume and resume template) to ease your online job search.

Creating a Portfolio Site for Software Developers

Whether you’re a front-end developer expert in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, or a more traditional software developer using Ruby or Python to contribute to web projects, your use of a portfolio site will be somewhat different than for designers and user experience people. The primary purpose for them is to bring the look and feel of their projects to life and to show their own style in action. For developers, it’s also valuable to show off working projects, but it’s also extra-important to show the range of tools you’ve used, as well as emphasizing where your skills are strongest. Here are some tips for creating a portfolio site for a front-end or software developer:

  • Get help picking pieces: It’s hard for you, as the person who’s done the work, to know what will impress outsiders most. Describe your projects to friends, technical, and not-so-technical, and ask them which ones they thing are portfolio-worthy.

  • Give context to the nth degree: Most people can’t get much out of reading source code, and much of your work may be proprietary anyway. Give a lot of context for your project work, including what other kinds of professionals were on your team, what the assignment was, what the deadlines and results were, and what you learned.

  • Emphasize the tools you use: Give the whole range of tools you’ve used. Show which ones you’re deepest in. This way, people who contact you about a job are much more likely to not be wasting your time.

  • Make a few interesting comments: Show that you’re passionate about your work by sharing your opinions on things like the state of a given technology or why one tool is better than another for specific purposes.

  • Give credit where credit is due: Web page and software development for the web is always collaborative, so point this out clearly in your portfolio. (Get permission before including names though.) Being generous to others will reflect well on you and your ability to plug into a new team quickly.

4 Online Job Search Tips for Web Developers to Remember

Searching online for web development jobs is kind of fun, like playing a video game with tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. Also, while you’re looking for a job, every new listing has the potential to represent perfection – an easier commute, new challenges, more interesting colleagues, a tolerant boss, and work/life balance. Reality, of course, hits soon enough whenever you actually start a new web dev job.

Here are a few tips to help make your web-development job search easier:

  • Look when you don’t need a job. Looking at job postings online keeps you up to speed with new tools and technologies that employers are looking for, lets you know where in your area jobs tend to be concentrated geographically, and more. If you know what’s needed, you can work the hot new tool, for instance, into your current projects so that you’re ready with relevant experience when it’s time to look for a job again.

  • Get your resume in shape with these online tools:

    Download this resume template to use in creating your own:

    And check out this sample resume for ideas.

  • Search only in places that are easy to get to. Both authors live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there are many jobs that aren’t really practical for each of us to look at. However, it’s very tempting to apply for a job at that hot new startup in San Jose when you live in Oakland. (It’s about 45 miles away, but about a two-hour drive during rush hour.) Just don’t do it; search first in the areas that are easy for you to get to.

  • Use the phone. Job listings are often cut-and-pasted from previous geologic eras of job search, meaning perhaps just two or three years ago. They can be out of date, and things you don’t like — misspellings, confusing job descriptions, out-of-date technologies and tools — may be an artifact of the process, not a true representation of the opportunity. (The same goes, of course, for things that you do like about the job posting.)

    If the listing is confusing, call to ask questions before you respond. And if the listing looks great, go ahead and apply online, but then give the recruiter a call. You’ll avoid wasting very much of your time — and you’ll stand out head and shoulders among people who just send in their resumes.