How to get a web development job in four steps
Step 1: Find developers to talk to
Finding developers to talk to will give you enormous advantages over people who just submit resumes and hope for the best. The next step will explain why, but for now...
Here's how to find them:
Many web developers seem to love meeting up to code or learn something new. A simple Google search for "web development meetups in [your area]" should give you plenty of places to get started. If you can't find anything in your area, you can still contact various web dev group members online through places like Meetup.com, LinkedIn, or plenty of others.
Step 2: Ask the right questions
Now that you've found some developers to talk to, whether it's through a meetup, a conference, or a forum of some sort, here are some examples of things to ask:
- What sorts of projects are you working on?
- What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
- What are your favorite types of projects?
- What brought you to [company name]?
- What was your biggest surprise about working at [company name]?
There are many more questions you can ask, but these should get you started.
What you gain from asking these questions:
- You'll know what's really involved in the work, so you can prepare better. This is especially important because job descriptions are often vastly different from the actual job.
- You'll know what the company's challenges are, so you're better equipped to answer how you would solve their problems.
- You'll have a contact at a potential company of interest.
- You'll give people an opportunity to tell you if they're looking for developers without directly asking them and making things awkward.
- You'll have inside information, so you can sound far more informed than other people in an interview.
- You'll have an idea of the company culture and whether it will be a fit.
- Even if your contact's company isn't hiring or doesn't seem like a fit, you'll still have insights you can use elsewhere.
Keep talking to developers until you find several that mention that their companies are hiring. This is very common at meetups and conferences.
Step 3: Research and prepare
Now that you've gathered information and made contacts at companies that are hiring, you can make yourself an outstanding candidate.
What to do:
- If your talks with developers have revealed skills you need to improve on, take the time to practice those skills.
- Create a portfolio showcasing the most commonly requested skills.
- Stay in touch with your new contacts at your companies of interest, and ask questions that reveal their needs and how you can resolve them. This is probably the most important thing you can do before an interview because it's like getting all the answers before a test.
- Be prepared to talk about how your previous experience or personal projects align with the solutions they need.
Step 4: Get hired
If you've successfully completed all the steps up to now, you will hopefully have found a few companies to interview with. Use the information you've gathered up to this point in order to establish yourself as someone who understands the company's needs and can fulfill them.
Here are the biggest advantages your preparation has given you:
- Someone at the company already knows you personally. That's really good.
- You know what they're actually looking for, so you don't have to guess what to say.
Remember, credentials don't matter nearly as much as showing you can solve your audience's problems. That's what everyone's really looking for, and that's what will set you apart.