Evan Genest's Learning Log

Web developer notes emphasizing LAMP, Symfony, PHP, Javascript, Drupal, and Node.

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How to find a job as a Junior Developer in Web Development

junior developer

I recently found myself between jobs as a web developer with two years of professional experience. I sent out resumes and got a disappointingly low callback rate. Most companies it seemed didn't seem to recruit totally green devs and say "here's the keys, you drive for awhile". Eventually I got much better at being called for an interview. Here are some things that I have figured out the hard way mostly.

Don't search for Web Developer positions

A lot of folks overlook jobs that have customer or even sales in the role title not realizing that those jobs are sometimes extremely technical. And they can be satisfying if you are a more extraverted engineer.

For me, specifically, I have found that rather than full time web development, I like customer interaction while solving web development problems and I like multiple small engineering projects rather than a long slow build of a single huge site. Once I realized what this job is called I saw there are many customer facing roles that are looking for people with junior level web development experience. All of these jobs gave me callbacks and a lot of them require varying amounts of web skills .

These are all client facing. Make sure you like that because have to be relatively extroverted in these roles. This is a whole legit career ladder you can climb at a larger company. Customer support has juniors and seniors just like full time web development. And you can move on up into managing, training, and recruiting the other tech support folks if the company is large enough.

Start finding these by searching one of the job titles above along with a tech term, like javascript or gatsby or cypress testing. Not all job websites can filter like that. I found LinkedIn was pretty good for this kind of filtering.

Positions for Full Stack Developer

This is never a junior position. When someone says Full Stack, they mean at the very least someone who has professionally, at a paid position, worked on web development for 4+ years, including working in a team and merging different people's work.

Recruiters are cool

I'm not talking about the fake recruiters. This type of faux recruiter spams all of our inboxes with wildly inappropriate job openings. (Not getting spammed? Curious? Just put your resume onto Dice.com and click the "okay to contact me" options.) These folks are just bounty hunter matchmakers -shotgunning out semi-personalized letters on Mailchimp. They are like bots but dumber.

No, the real recruiters are at places like Teamsoft, Robert Half, or Tek Systems. They are much cooler. They make the whole experience feel more like you are with a career counselor who can show you genuine opportunities.

Recruiters like this sometimes have jobs that aren't being advertised. The last place I worked hired 100% through recruiters and never placed ads. This would help explain the statistic I heard that only 30% of the web developer openings ever get written up into an ad for a site like Linked In. (For more on that check out Gergely Orosz, the Uber engineer who wrote The Tech Resume: Inside Out.)

Try searching without going to a jobs site

Click the careers link at the bottom of the tech you use. You already go to the pages for Node, Next, Github, Postman, Wordpress to read the documentation. All of those sites have a careers link at the bottom of their footer. All of those places hire developers.

The 3rd parties that make web development tools have jobs. Bloomreach, TaxJar, BrightPattern, FontAwesome, Button, Stripe, Shopify, Listrak all have a careers link for their open paid positions.

Well-designed sites may be an attractant for you; investigate the sites that get ranked for good design by the Trustpilot web reviewer community.

Companies that are receiving venture capital are often growing and hiring. Try looking up startup lists at Crunchbase. Or discover companies that are the leaders in their sector by browsing the many lists at the bottom of Owler

Do you love Rust?

If there is a certain technology you love (Go, Rust, Self driving cars), find nice sounding roles that are too beyond you now ("Senior Dev Needed, 8 yrs experience"), then go to that company's LinkedIn or their careers listings and research where you could get a foot in the door there, doing what you know now. If you get in, you have positioned yourself for the next step on the ladder and have a leg up as an internal hire. Example: The senior dev jobs posted at Drupal.org are beyond me, but I can do testing there. Drupal.org is even a case where a foot in the door could be making free contributions to their open source repository.

Testing jobs

Learning to write reasonable tests can be picked up in a couple months, and it is a good alternative foot in the door if you prefer a role where you just see your team and a machine and no clients. Look for these job titles:

Testing is its own thing. If you want to interview for those positions take a few days to at least make sure you know the specific terms and skills (such as P.O.I.S.E.D. if you are testing APIs). Install and watch a tutorials about Postman, Insomnia, Cypress, Selenium, PHPUnit, Mocha, Cucumber, et al.

A lot of tutorials and boot camps don't have time in their curriculum to cover testing. If you want to hear an intro to QA stuff there's a wise, wide-ranging conversation about testing with Andre Young on Episode 143 of the Web Rush podcast called Old Man Yells at Tests.