Last week I spoke to the Galvanize Full Stack program at Golden Triangle about getting a first full time software development job after completion of the 6 month program. Michael Herman is the lead instructor for that program and also helps run the Node.js Denver/Boulder/Ft Collins meetup, and is overall an awesome guy very involved and helpful in the local tech community. I'm always more than happy to give advice to his students, a lot of whom I see regularly at Code attending various meetups.
Here's some advice and tips I gave that class, which should be more or less applicable when looking for a first tech job after another development course, a 4 year Computer Science degree, or for a self-made coder.
- Make yourself visible
- Online - Be sure a company can find you if they're looking for someone with your skill set. Take time to complete your LinkedIn profile, ask/answer on Stack Overflow, post code to github, even deal with mostly irrelevant spam by posting a resume on Monster, Dice, Indeed and Career Builder
- In-person - Attend meetups. There's a bunch of great local tech meetups where you can talk with people interested in the tech stacks and industries you are. For the most part attendees are friendly and happy to help. If there's a company you'd love to work for, ask if anyone at the meetup has a connection there to help get a foot in the door
- Educate yourself...not just about code
- Be knowledgeable about the tech industry in general (ie, TechCrunch) and locally (ex: BuiltInColorado or this blog). It's important to stay on top of general technology trends, new technologies, and major players. It's your career now and you should know more than just how to code. Plus a lot of companies are moving to or opening development offices in Colorado, those are great places to apply
- Know everything you can about a company before interviewing. If you do your research it will come across that you are eager and sharp. Not many things turn off a company more than being clueless about their product and business model during an interview.
- Resume Tips
- Look less well rounded - It sounds counter intuitive and doesn't apply all the time. There are some true Jack of All Trade developers out there, but they probably haven't put a resume together in years. There are probably areas of full stack development that you like best and are best at, whether it's User Experience, Front End Development, Server-side dev or database work. Focus your resume on those areas rather than everything.
- General formatting - I personally don't think it's a huge deal to keep a resume to one page although I know some disagree. I'd recommend keeping at least one 'unrelated' position on your resume, if it shows hustle and patience (restaurant or retail come to mind).