How to get a Job in Tech

How do you actually get a job in tech? I’m going to try to tell you, because I’ve just been through this journey and this blog post was written over the last couple of months where I left my job as a teacher to write code every day. I also believe most of the things in this article apply to most fields and not only to tech.

I’m a Web Developer (BA), but I’ve worked as a teacher (on how to make web sites) the first two years, because it was a really cool job and I got to work with young adults with ADHD or ASD, an autism spectrum disorder. (Still miss you guys, if you’re reading this!)

You’ll need friends

You’ll never know who you’ll meet on your way to the top
You’ll probably see them again when your fame starts to drop
Down down, I’ll meet you on the ground

Amy MacDonald – This Pretty Face

To know about the right jobs for you and for them to know you’re looking, there’s nothing better than your network. Also if your peers consider you a nice guy or even a friend, they’ll not hesitate to tell you about an open position or even pitch you to the company.

Before I decided to change jobs I actually had a company invite me over, because literally four different people told them about me, a network I had built in another city, with another company, doing other work. Everybody over there knew me through my photo- and videography, but they also knew I was the guy running the website for said company.

Your reputation will matter, but you shouldn’t do stuff for it. Just be nice to people, don’t screw anyone over and work hard. The best things people have said of me, I had not expected or just thought that everybody would do things like me or better. Turns out just not being a dick actually gets you good rep.

Skills on CV/resume and Portfolio

Knowing more or having more experience always is a good thing of course, but you’ll need to focus on the things that are most important to the jobs you’re applying for. This does NOT mean you should have a different CV for all of them! You’re still the same person, no need to re-invent your history! (It’s actually quite important that you don’t)

I think I didn’t have the best CV in the world, both what I had done with my life so far and how I presented it, but I had help from some very smart people who looked over it, found typos and told me what they liked about it.

You can still see it here: http://jonathanmh.com/resume and it’s built with jsonresume which is a super awesome project to structure this stuff, it’s like a data format for resumes. I can only urge people to keep a resume online, because it is easier to be viewed on every device than a PDF that is built in a certain format. Websites are the most universal documents you can present to people and also they are the easiest to share.

As for example projects, this was one of the times that the financially not rewarding open source projects you have released in your life, finally can shine. I had just written a bunch of WordPress plugins and done some examples to show that I can write some JavaScript with different frameworks. To make all that less boring to look at I made a small page with screenshot of the respective things and put that in with every application: http://jonathanmh.com/projects. Of course I have made sure that the source code is visible or the respective thing is on github, so my future employers can get an impression of what I write code like.

coding-as-a-hobby

Having something to show, actually especially things that you have done in your spare time, show passion for your work and represents your engagement in the field. Many of the things I’ve coded in my life were purely for fun or out of curiousity. If you do something for fun, getting paid is just a bonus.

Job Interviews

Stranger, I just came to get to know you
Just to sit next to you for a bit
Stranger, I just came to get to know you
Wouldn’t it be a shame if no one never did, did, did?

Tina Dico – Get to Know You

I’ve had the most amazing job interviews over the last couple of months. One thing I made clear to myself before being there was that I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be there and get the chance to talk to them. I’m not impressed by nice offices or towers made of metal and glass, but still, if you’re sitting around with a CTO for an hour and you know they’re probably making 120$ an hour, you know that they are investing time in you, the minute you walk into their meeting room. Now that I’ve said that I appreciate that, don’t feel intimidated by it. They are there to explore a business opportunity too! You are not the only one! A job interview is the first physical step to figuring out if you’re a good match.

keyboard-coding-programmer-developer

I was lucky to be able to say that I actually liked my former job and work environment a lot and that I was not in a rush or would have to have a contract from next month, so everything felt like a friendly negotiation for me and everybody was very curious on why I was teaching young adults with autism.

Once I accidentally got into a job interview. I actually just couldn’t figure out what the company did and shot them an email if we could meet, which then immediately was a job interview. When I told one of my friends their reaction was:

Oh my god, I would have died! Were you prepared?!

I was as prepared as I’d ever be I think. If I spent hours researching something or not, it doesn’t significantly change me, my pace of learning or my experience, so just being you is probably what matters in a job interview.

What I learned is probably that I don’t regret meeting with anyone during this time, but that it’s nice to meet people. When you think of job interviews, drop your mindset that it’s a trial by fire entirely.

Job interviews exist to figure out if both parties are a match. If you’re not a match, that’s fine. Think of it this way:

Would you eat a salad with and only with two steak knives?

If no, then you understand that there are dishes that match some cutlery better than others. Job interviews are making a little more sure that you’ll not both end up unhappy and dissatisfied. It’s not a test or exam, both parties can afterwards decide, they can hire somebody else or you find another place you’d rather work.

Also after you are hired, at least in Denmark, they have a trial period of three months where you can quit from day to day and your employer can fire you with a 14-day warning. If you’re in doubt something is the right job for you, getting hired there is actually just a more extensive test.

Conclusion

We can go wherever we want ’cause we’re free yeah we’re free
We can do whatever we want ’cause we’re born young and free
We’re born young and free

Marmozets – Born Young And Free

I’ve been happy in my jobs as a developer so far and I’ve tried a ton of different tools and tasks. I also got very lucky I guess. I hope this post is valuable to some readers :). If you have any question or comment, feel free to shoot me an email (public at this domain), ping me on twitter of even make use of facebook!

If you think you’ll do this some day, just close this browser tab and get on it. There is no point in working in anything else than your dream job, you are good enough and there is no loss in trying.

Recently I was approached by an aspiring developer, to teach and to help him find a job in the industry and I’m super excited how that will go! It still seems crazy and absurd that of all people I should be in a position to guide, but maybe that makes a little sense.

Further Reading

If you want to know what some developers have been asked in multiple interviews, have a look at the following list: Ten questions I’ve been asked, most more than once, over six technical JavaScript / Front-end Engineer job interviews. : javascript

The JavaScript Jabber Podcast has an episode dedicated to finding jobs: 180 JSJ Finding a Job, that I quite liked.

2 thoughts on “How to get a Job in Tech”

    1. Thanks for your comment! I don’t know about that, for me being me is kinda natural. Most notably, since I’ve done an IT apprenticeship, everything seems like heaven, work wise 😀

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