50 applications, 0 interviews

I have started the self taught route by going through most of the freeCodeCamp certs. I shifted to other tutorials after that. Heres a summary:

  • Played poker professionally for 8 years, decided it was time for a change
  • Been self-teaching for the last year part-time and full time
  • Learned Javascript and React, built project with create react app for portfolio
  • Got 2 AWS Certifications (Cloud Practitioner and Solutions Architect)
  • Built ‘Cloud Resume’ using AWS. Frontend hosted S3 - CloudFront - Route 53. Backend updates a views counter with DynamoDB - Lambda - API Gateway all setup with SAM templates.

First 30 applications , I had a plain resume. I got 2 coding tests which I did not pass (my data structures and algo are rusty and currently working on those skills)

Next 20 applications, updated resume on Canva + passed my AWS certs + built cloud resume. Removed some old/small projects. It was a great upgrade…yet I still haven’t gotten any traction.

I am still waiting back on some of those applications, but it isn’t looking good.

I want to iterate on my process. I want to add more skills. I want to find better ways to reach recruiters.

Should I add build more projects for my resume?

Should I do more cold outreach?

I need your advice!


Where’s your actual resume? If you’re cold applying like I did, then all these matter:

  • Portfolio
  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • LinkedIn
  • Github

Since before an interview all you are is a piece of paper and an online presence.

Would look at resume first for improvements (can’t find it on your cloud resume site). And I personally would recommend more projects. I had 20+ when I started applying.

Also, it’s a pandemic. One of the people I follow on LinkedIn posts software job stats, and last I saw there are still half the job postings as pre-pandemic.

I cold-applied to 34 jobs for my first offer in 2019.

My recent job search spanned 2 months and nearly 100 applications for 1 job offer. Albeit I applied less eagerly, with a blanket resume and no cover letter… mid-level roles vs junior roles…

Point is it might be a little harder right now. 50 applications over how many days? I did 5/day and only applied to jobs posted in the last 24 hours with junior in the title.

Not enough information in original post.

What are you applying for?
What are you applying with?

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Really appreciate you taking the time to reply and here is my updated resume.

I have applied mostly for Junior Frontend Positions or Junior Cloud Positions (those are harder to find). I am using this resume, my linkedin, cover letter, and github.

I’m also in the process of updating my linkedin.

I did a lot of tutorial projects that I feel aren’t unique enough to feature on my resume…that line of thinking may be wrong? My next project will be a ACloudGuru python etl project.

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I’m not a resume expert, I’ve definitely heard of people employing them for this sort of thing, but I’ll give my own feedback for what it’s worth :sweat_smile:

  • I’ve heard not to use two column layouts in the US because of ATSs. Could be urban legend, but I don’t risk it
  • When I look at your resume, I see a freelance developer with 1 project. So I think more projects would look better
  • I put only my most recent experience on my resume when I had no programming experience, and at the bottom of it. The top 2/3 of my resume were projects and techs. I even went two pages now

Interesting, I went to the two-column layout to try and upgrade my resume. When I go to apply sometimes, it auto-fills info from the resume and it shows up backwards in the web form. Maybe I should switch

ATS systems don’t care at all about layout, unless you do something so bonkers that it can’t even keep sentences in order. A flashy-looking resume looks keen on your portfolio site, but you want to have something really simple and boring with zero graphics that a hiring manager can print out to have in from of them during an interview. And at least in the USA, absolutely no picture of yourself.

Me, I would just use a LinkedIn resume. Actually for me personally, I’m at the point in my life and career where I’d rather give myself a lobotomy with a cricket bat than use LinkedIn ever again, but for those not sailing on the same ship, it’s the more effective tool to use.

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Updated to this word version. All the content is the same, just a more vanilla formatting

You might expand your search to more local ones. Network, go to meetups, hook up with devs in your area, let it be known tactfully that you’re looking for a job. The project looks pretty nice, but you might want to keep building some more…

My first resume had 4-5 full stack projects and they were all from the freecodecamp curriculum.

Just took an extra couple days to polish up the CSS on the FCC frontends by eyeballing a professional website.

From what you’ve studied, you should be able to crank out a few projects like that. But if I was hiring, I’d want to see that, not just believe it.

Appreciate all the insight!

My plan from here:

  • Build out 2-3 more projects
  • Network more locally
  • Network on Linkedin, add me here if anyone wants to connect https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-hallow/
  • More cold outreach / getting in contact with people directly
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Reading top to bottom, there are several things here that stand out. The only thing I have to go on here is the resume, backed up by your Github account, which is not a lot. But lots of people are in the same position. So anyway, impressions + some questions that came to mind:

You’re mixing past and present tenses in the descriptions.

You’ve said you’re a software engineer. Job titles are pretty arbitrary things. But I read “software engineer” and I expect some experience. IME it’s not a title that’s generally self-applied. I’m not sure I’ve a good answer there (if you don’t have a software engineering job, don’t put that job title in? Your name will do).

Skills listed include “JavaScript, React, HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, TailwindCSS”. And you’ve said you’re currently a freelance web developer. So that says web GUI development is what you’re going for.

You’ve said you have experience of Postgres and data analysis. The other listed skill is Python. So that says data analysis is something you might be going for.

You’ve got the AWS certifications, and that says IT/devops/systems is what you’re interested in.

So it’s a bit all over the place. Which I would expect given you’ve only been learning for a short period of time. That’s fine, you don’t know what you don’t know at this stage, you can keep it broad. But nothing says you are aiming for anything specific.

The “cloud resume”. It’s a tiny toy thing. And that’s fine. But if you’re going to say that it utilises AWS cloud services, then demonstrate that. I am fully aware that reading the docs and applying the basic example code in the docs will get you what you have. That in itself is good. You can presumably navigate the docs, you can use CLI tools, you can use git. But where is the lambda code? Where is the SAM template? How are you using Dynamo? Maybe try demonstrating some more of the skills you’ve learned from the certifications.

At the minute, it’s a very basic React app that IRL should be static. It’s for personal learning, so no issue there, but if you’re going to use React, actually use it. Why have you not utilised more of its features? Why have you chosen to use the class-based API? Could you write this as a static site?

The sole piece of work you’ve listed as you freelance web development work. Is it actually that, or is it a personal project? It looks very much like the latter, and if it is not, you’re maybe need a little more explanation re. client.

The bullet points are jargon and pretty hard to parse.

You highlight using Postgres – have you done anything else with that? Can you actually use it to build things? Can you model data in it in a useful manner? Can you show some [programmatic] usage?

You also highlight DynamoDB. Dynamo has very specific data modelling requirements (and usecases, tbh). Can you show something that makes use of Dynamo in a more realistic situation?

You highlight Python as a skill: is that literally just from the lambda function? If not, why no Python in your GH?

You have stated a set of skills, but not really demonstrated them. The certifications should guarantee some baseline level of knowledge about configuring AWS stuff. But I wouldn’t be 100% sure on that. Finally, unless you can better tie eight years of playing poker to what you now want to do then it might work against you. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but you highlight transferable skills in the resume. If you’re going to do that, why the focus on front-end web dev skills? Why no real sign of working with data?


Hey Dan,

Really appreciate the long write up. It really made me rethink some things and that is extremely useful.

  • The cloud resume - I haven’t put the backend code on github yet. Something I am in the process of. Working on the last parts of this cloude resume challenge
  • This should help demonstrate those skills and I will be writing a blog about the whole process
  • The freelance project was from a friend running a small discord group style class for crypto and wanted a small tool. More as a favor to me
  • The postgres stuff was from my poker days. I didn’t use it much more than running different query to help support my poker strategy. Maybe I shouldn’t list this.
  • I can try and add DynamoDB in another situation in a different project
  • Python was my first language and I used it a lot with problem-solving skills (data structures and algos). The lambda function will be the only showcase of python on my github, but I do know it pretty well.
  • I am afraid if I don’t include poker on the resume, it will be a giant 8 year gap on the resume and having it is better than not

Overall, I have a lot of good feedback that I can immediately put to good use. I appreciate you taking the time

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Hey Eric,

which companies have you applied to, size-wise?
I think this is important for an answer.

Reading your resume, it seems you are a fullstack tinkerer who loves to try out stuff and wears different hats.
That’s mostly not what big companies need.

I am a self-taught developer too. If you have at least 4 more projects I think that would be enough to get someone who takes a look at your linkedin without knowing you to give you a shot at an interview. The one project that I think a developer would really notice is a trello-ish clone (kanban board). Many developers work with Kanban boards in their day to day work in some kind of agile environment and it would show them that you are one of them. Use the Kanban board you built on your own projects after you have completed it.

Definitely try your best to network locally (covid sucks). I got my first dev job by going to meetups and meeting people. I was showing them the projects I was working on and someone saw what I was doing and hired me on the spot. I took that job, even though I did initially take a pay cut. That was 3 year ago and I am making 1.5 times was I was making in my old industry, and there is still room for me to make more money.

It definitely takes a lot of work over a period of time and a lot of passion for what you want to make even though it can be very frustrating. Once you do get that first job, you will never stop learning and things are always changing. Working with a dev team is very fun and it will be worth all the trouble that you are going through now.

Really appreciate the insight! Got some new projects lined up that I’m very excited about

I’ve applied to companies of all sizes. I aimed mostly at smaller start ups. After reading everyones suggestions, I am thinking of building out a few more projects to better showcase my skills

let us know how it will go

Every experienced tech person (dev and recruiter) knows how good you can be at your best if you are self-taught for 1 year and say that you are into JavaScript, React, Tailwind, Python, S3, DynamoDB, Lambda, Postgres, while playing poker for a living.

I would choose one path (more Frontend or more Backend/Cloud) and try to narrow down the skills and show them in your projects, while using best practices of software engineering (requirements, testing, git workflows, ci/cd etc.).

Hi devs!

I have the same problem as well. I have watched YT videos from people like Joshua Fluke, and I got some pretty insightful advices. Last month, I applied to like 40 jobs, and got an interview with one, but unfortunately, they were looking for a PHP developer (I’m a MERN developer, btw). Then, I spent the next days trying to tinker my portfolio and resume. I have removed my “Work Experience” section, as I only have 1 year worth of freelancing as a Research writer, and it’s totally unrelated to web dev. Now my resume look like this (I have one with two-columns, but ATS don’t really recognize the format):

So, I have like 6 full stack projects (including my portfolio site, and I think they really are pretty functional), and two projects with just frontend stuff. Here’s my portfolio, btw: https://alphadevop.co , I might get some good advices too.

I’m not really sure where to go from here. Right now, I’m trying my luck on unpaid internships, and volunteering for non-profit organizations, just for the sake of gaining “work experience”. I am also thinking of building another full-stack e-commerce application to further showcase my skills (this one’s gonna take time, and I’m not sure if it’s worth it, at this point, considering with what I already have and my goals).

So to sum it up, should I change anything on my resume? also on my portfolio? I want to build another fullstack application, but I’m afraid I’ll just get stuck on this cycle. Should I just keep trying my luck on internships or volunteering to gain experience?

Thank you!

(I was told to start a new thread, but I’m just gonna keep it here, I don’t wanna miss out on good answers)

He, wait until you have it 500 applications and still haven´t gotten a job like me.