Julia Undeutsch
Welcome, I'm Julia ๐Ÿ‘‹

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Welcome, I'm Julia ๐Ÿ‘‹

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Am I Ready To Apply For Jobs?

The hard parts of finding a job and how you can prepare yourself

Julia Undeutsch's photo
Julia Undeutsch
ยทSep 5, 2022ยท

8 min read

Featured on Hashnode
Am I Ready To Apply For Jobs?
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Table of contents

  • Having A Plan
  • Setting A Time Goal
  • Ready to apply for jobs
  • Conclusion

We all get into that situation at one time or another where we think: "When should I start applying for jobs? Do I know enough to get a job?" The thing is, there is no right answer to that. Start applying and you will know where you stand.

Hello, my name is Julia and I'm a self-taught front-end developer in my thirties who switched career into tech after studying Japanese and Musicology while working part-time at a casino.

When I learn something new, I always need a plan to track my progress. This makes me feel confident and aware of my progress and small accomplishments I make throughout my learning journey. In this article I would like to give you some tips and insights to better prepare you for your job search.

Having A Plan

I like to think everything through, stick to a plan, and be able to adapt (be agile) when things go in a different direction to achieve my goals.

When I started studying Japanese Studies, there were about 180 students who started with me, and only 33 finished in the minimum time. The study was no bed of roses: if you fail a course, you have to wait a year to repeat it, and you lose a lot of time.

I knew it was going to be hard: All those Chinese characters that all seemed to look the same, a grammar so different from my first language, German ๐Ÿคฏ. So I made a study plan not to fail any course and to graduate in the expected time. That plan seemed to work, so I created a similar plan when I started learning coding. Again, it worked.

Setting A Time Goal

When I first started learning to code, I wondered how I would know that I knew enough to apply for jobs. When will be the right time? I started joining Twitter and looked at many accounts that were also self-taught. And the ones that seemed humble were all saying the same thing.

You can do it in 9 months, but the average takes 1 - 1.5 years, and some take longer.

It's important to consider all the facts and be aware of where you stand. Since high school, my grades have been average, so I assumed I'd be back to average, so I'd make it in 1-1.5 years. I applied for my first job almost a year after I started programming, and luckily it worked out and I got a job in the time I expected.

However, there are a few factors to consider when doing this kind of calculation.

So as you begin your journey and set goals for what you want to learn, who you want to follow, who inspires you, when you know enough to apply to jobs, keep the following things in mind.

Career Switch

Please stop listening to people who brag that they changed careers within 3-6 months. I see a lot of people talking about a career switch when they actually mean: I was a UX designer and I made it to frontend developer within 6 months. I mean, c' mon, these people already know so many things about frontend, teamwork, and workflow.

To me, a career change is when you did something completely different than tech, like me. Follow and listen to people who have been in a similar situation as you. That will tend to motivate and encourage you.

Time Range

Don't get nervous when others say they did it in this or that time. Everyone is different, everyone needs their time to memorize code patterns, and everyone has a different life and work situation.

The way I've always understood it, the time period above is for people who can dedicate themselves fully to programming: No one to take care of, no full-time job, just learning how to code all day long.

Like me. I don't have kids or a dog to take care of. I didn't have a job while I was learning coding, so I was able to focus on coding full time. I spent an average of 6 hours a day for almost a year - sometimes more hours a day, sometimes not at all.

So please be aware of your personal circumstances and give yourself the time you need. Again, it would be best to follow people who were in a similar life situation when they learned to program to adopt their motivation and daily schedule to help you get there.

Staying Focused

I was most focused and productive when I was working on a project with a small team of 4 for 2 months called Smart Shopping App, as well as when I participated in 2 Hashnode Hackathons, the Clerk x Hashnode Hackathon and the Auth0 x Hashnode Hackathon, each lasting 1 month.

At those times I had a specific goal in mind of what I wanted to accomplish, what needed to be done, and it felt structured.

Also, I'm someone who needs a little time pressure so I don't get distracted or feel lost. Those were also the projects that got the most attention on job applications, and I was able to be very confident in the interviews.

Ready to apply for jobs

At some point, I didn't know what else to learn. I felt exhausted and finally wanted a real job. I needed a structure, a purpose, a team, a real project to work on. But after several coffee chats, meetups, and an interview or two, I realized there was still so much to think about.

Now was not the time to get lazy. That's why I made a list (I'll share in a bit) of all the important things I wanted to work on before presenting myself and my code, that really helped me to get interviews and finally a job, and I hope this list will help you too.

Because there is one important thing to always keep in mind ๐Ÿ‘‡:

If you don't get interviews you should work on your CV. If you don't get a job you should work on your appearance while being interviewed.

Get Interviews

To get an interview, your resume, projects, and online presence must be outstanding. The recruiter needs to find a good reason why they should invite you, of all people, for an interview.

You can be as good a programmer as you are. If it doesn't show on your CV, you will never get the chance to prove your skills.

CV and Online Presence

I've written a few articles on personal performance that you should definitely check out. These tips have already helped other people get interviews that no recruiter had noticed before.

Portfolio: yes or no?

I didn't have a personal portfolio, and I don't think it's necessary if you have a good structured GitHub profile showcasing your projects and skills. Take a look at my GitHub profile to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Something that I think is necessary is that you present your projects at the highest level. I know you're thinking now that you're happy with your projects, that you've put so much effort into them, and that they're ready to be published.

But there are still a few things you may not have thought of, and I want to help you double check everything before you present it. Your code should be clean and consistent, each project should have a readme file where you describe what the project is about, add a thumbnail, fill in the about section on the right side of the repository, and more.

Here's the checklist I mentioned above you can work through for each of your projects to make sure you've even considered these things. Of course, no project has to be perfect, and no project will ever be finished. But it's still a great feeling to know that you've done everything you can to get the most out of each project. If you follow these simple steps, you'll have a lot more to talk about in job interviews.

Get the job

If you get interviews but not a job, you need to work on your interview skills, how you interpret things, and how you sell yourself.

Every time I've been job hunting I've had a few interviews like that and often got to the second round because people liked me. But there was always someone with more experience in a certain area, so the other person got the job. I knew I had to improve my selling skills.

Find here an article of how I got my first job as a developer by making simple projects seem big.

Keep track of your applications!

It would be a good practice to keep all the application information in one file. This is where the Notion template for job applications comes in. You can add the companies you applied to and the job description to be up to date when the final call comes (every job description is different, so preparing for it is sometimes very different).

To help you prepare for the interview, I've put together a collection of questions I'm often asked in interviews that you might want to know, like what company inspires you in tech. There are so many collections of interview questions online, so I personally prepared only for the personal questions and acquired the necessary knowledge to talk about my projects, which seemed sufficient. (Otherwise I would have gone crazy ๐Ÿคช)

Hopefully it's self-explanatory that during the interview you have stable internet, code to show (GitHub, live view and VSC) and are in a quiet environment with appropriate background and clothing.

Conclusion

As you can see, even when I thought I was ready for the job search, I still did a lot. And it paid off.

When I officially announced that I was looking for a job, I applied to seven companies, got four interviews, got to the second round twice, and was offered a job another time. So I strongly believe that I did a good job in creating, planning, and sticking to my plan to switch to the tech industry and that helped me find a job quite quickly.

I hope some of my tips and insights help you get a sense of where you are right now, what you need to think about to get an interview, and get the confidence for your next interview to finally land your first job in the tech industry.

Good luck ๐Ÿ€.


Thank you

Thanks for your reading and time. I really appreciate it!

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