Another "Am I ready?" post!

Hi folksies,

Now I know our fantastic friend @kevinSmith says:

You’ll never feel ready. It’s a process of never ending learning and always feeling at least a little inadequate. – Source

However, I’d really appreciate some of you wise-ones looking at my website https://www.seldoncortex.com and the included projects (Here’s my fCC certs for good measure), as well as my current résumé:


(Just realized I need to add D3.js to my skills!)

Most of my projects are from the fCC curriculum (although the latter ones are particularly polished and personalized, I feel) but I also know that our amazing amigo @ArielLeslie says:

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t [put fCC projects in one’s portfolio]. – Source

So I’m wondering, now that you can see my current skill level and résumé,

  • How much of my productive time should I be focusing on improving my portfolio vs networking/job-hunting?
  • Should I step away from the fCC curriculum to work on unique projects that will set me apart from other applicants?
  • Could I perhaps start contributing significantly to some FOSS repositories as a way to both improve my abilities and network? (I ask this because I would much rather be coding than trying to network on LinkedIn.)
  • Do you agree with the following block-quote?

“I’m not really big on [job] applications. I truly believe one conversation can lead you anywhere … So I’m a big believer in network, network, network.”
– Danny Thompson Source

Thank you in advance for your wonderful input!

P.S. I recently learned about Chingu and might ought to pursue that avenue.

HI @stan-stan !

Here are my thoughts :slight_smile:

Resume

For the tech experience section, you should only list things where you were paid for dev work. Running a personal blog should go under a section called Projects. For your stackoverflow link, I would just remove that because that is not considered work experience. As for contributing to open source, it looks like the link you provided is for your own repo. I would suggest listing open source contributions that you have done for other organizations and explain the types of meaningful contributions you made.

This line at the top of your resume here is to vague
“build website and data visualization for clients”

You need to give more specifics about the types of websites and applications you built so people can understand your skill set and the value you brought to the table with these clients.

As it reads right now, I have no idea if you build out some complex e commerce applications or if you built small static sites that took a couple of hours to whip up. It is important to communicate what you have done so potential employers can be interested in you.

You need to be doing both at the same time.
Most people widely misunderstand what networking actually is. Networking works best when you build real connections with people over a period of time. Then when it comes time to look for a job, people will help you with job leads because you invested the time in the relationship first. Networking is not about meeting someone once and then hitting them up for a job. People will only go to bat for you if they have gotten to know you.

Leon Noel has the best videos on how to do networking the right way

As for your projects, you would want to build projects that will help you stand out and give you something to talk about during the interview. Class projects are great for learning and growing but everyone does the same ones. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd because the entry level market is really competitive.

yes :slight_smile:

Yes, that could help.
freeCodeCamp is open source and always has issues up for grabs.
There are a lot of great projects out there.
Find a couple that you can work with over a period of time and focus on making meaningful contributions.

I can see where Danny is coming from.
In his situation, he had a lot of job leads before he accepted an offer for his first dev job.
If you do get good at networking, it can help you get to the interview faster where you have a chance to showcase your skills.

When it comes to job applications, you don’t want to just hit apply and hope for the best. That is why you want to do these extra things to help you get to the next stage of the job process.

Networking, being active in the dev community, open source work, etc are all things you can do to help you in the job process.

But remember, networking doesn’t get you the job.
Networking gets you an interview.

Your skills and potential is what gets you the job.

Hope all of that helps!

3 Likes

You’re ready when you find someone to pay you money for your skills.

In your case you probably should be looking for some company that accepts interns and is willing teach them.

Don’t invent stuff for your resume - “Freelance” for people without experience usually is just a placeholder like ‘lorem ipsum’, and looking at your blog website I doubt that you’ve done any freelance work (you’ve React dev build running, that’s why your websites is so slow).

People without experience will be hired because they show potential, so do some (at least one) reasonably complex project and keep applying. By the feedback you’ll get (or won’t get) you’ll see how ready you are.

2 Likes

I’m sure Jessica offers some good analysis, let me offer mine.

Your resume… Keep in mind I can be a harsh critic.

What is this a resume for? When the HR manager is searching their desk and come across this, do you really want to give them a scavenger hunt? You should have a subtitle saying the kind of job you are looking for and probably a few sentences in a “Summary” section that explains further who you are and what type of job you want - straight and to the point.

The Korean and Japanese (I assume) script at the top and the sign language - get rid of them. What does that have to do with your ability as a developer. If you want a “Languages” section at the bottom, include them there. I don’t know if your SO account should be listed under “experience”.

Your non coding job entries are much too long. The ParkJeong entry should be two lines - “English” teacher says all they need to know. The same with the dispatch job.

Your Education entry is too long. It should be three lines. The third line is your majors on the left and your GPA on the right. They don’t care abut your minors or thesis - unless they were directly related to coding, and maybe not even then.

The skills section should be MUCH more prominent. That is one of the most important sections. It should be one of the first things in your resume (for me, after the summary) and have more things in it. I like a list with multiple columns, let it “pop”. We just saved a lot of space with the things we removed above - us it for this.

They don’t care about your interests. It isn’t a dating site. These kinds of things might add color in an interview, but in a resume they just make you seem unfocused and distract the reader. This is where your languages could go. I don’t know if it is that important, but if you must, I would put them here.

Most of my projects are from the fCC curriculum (although the latter ones are particularly polished and personalized, I feel)

Where are they? I would have expected to see your 3 best projects, professional or otherwise.

I agree with ArielLeslie, to a point. Yeah, they aren’t impressive and they are “cookie-cutter”. But if they are the best you have, then use them. But your goal should be to displace them with your own projects, things that you have conceived and built from scratch. Originality isn’t important there, but that you came up with the plan and built it and it is well coded. Having a backend and unit tests would really help, too.

  • How much of my productive time should I be focusing on improving my portfolio vs networking/job-hunting?

Does job hunting take that long? When I was learning, I would typically spend 1-8 hours coding (depending on my “real” job) and maybe send up some resumes/applications at the end of the day, maybe 15-30 minutes.

  • Should I step away from the fCC curriculum to work on unique projects that will set me apart from other applicants?

Part of the point of the FCC curriculum is to get you ready to make good solo projects. But if you already have those skills, then go for it. I think once you get into the Python stuff, you probably can trail off if you need to - they are related to a different stack. (I wish we had “learning tracks” to make that more clear.)

  • Could I perhaps start contributing significantly to some FOSS repositories as a way to both improve my abilities and network? (I ask this because I would much rather be coding than trying to network on LinkedIn.)

If you are ready to do that, then go for it. It is good experience and looks good on the resume.

  • Do you agree with the following block-quote?

“I’m not really big on [job] applications. I truly believe one conversation can lead you anywhere … So I’m a big believer in network, network, network.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about. Of the three jobs I’ve gotten, three were gotten through applications. Of the hundreds of jobs I’ve reached out to, I can only think of two job interviews that came from knowing someone who knew someone. I mean, I linkedin is powerful. I think one of my jobs was from a recruiter contacting me on linkedin, but that wasn’t really “networking”, that was me having a presence on the platform, having my skills and resume updated, and a recruiter searching and finding that I matched their requirements.

Take things you read on social media with a grain of salt. Also realize that youtubers make money from views, so they make money from being shocking. If they want attention, they have to say something different than everyone else. There is a real incentive for them to just say crazy stuff.

Sure, go ahead and “network”. I never got a job from it, but I learned a lot from going to local coding meetups and helping out here on the forum. Meet people, talk to people, share ideas, critique each other’s code.

3 Likes

I mean, actual freelance work is real work. If you got paid to do it, then it’s work. But I might split out “Employment” from “Projects”. But if you haven’t been paid for it, then don’t lump it with paid work.

For reference, when I applied for my first “real” job, my main feature was some freelance work I’d done, some rather large React Native projects I’d built for a customer through upwork. It really grabbed attention. But it was a real job for a real customer that paid real money.

I also had a lot of projects that I’d built for learning.

1 Like

Of course it is, I never said it isn’t :slightly_smiling_face:

What I mean is that people just put “Freelance” without having any freelance experience just to pad their resume.

2 Likes

Yeah you should have one personal / unique / ambitious project that is the centerpiece of your resume, the benefits of doing this are:

  • less for the person reading your cv to digest (no one is going to review seven projects. They might review one, and take a deeper look into it if it ignites their interest).
  • a full stack project demonstrates a greater level of competency than codepens. It shows you can leverage and orchestrate different technologies and libraries and make them work together.
  • it makes you stand out from the all the other people looking for entry level jobs who have these exact same projects in their portfolio
  • it’s easier to demonstrate passion for a project you’re actually passionate about / invested in. It gives you more to talk about.
  • You can create something that looks like a business application, e.g. a dashboard or platform where you can manage a process.
  • it’s also more interesting / fun / creative to build an application that’s yours.

If you make a project like this, get it to a minimum viable state where you can deploy it, but keep developing and improving it even after that. Adopt the attitude that the project is never finished and can always be improved, and just keep pushing improvements to it. If you want to learn something new, try and integrate it/utilise it in this project. Don’t abandon the project and move onto something else. Make it your star project.

I’d recommend utilising the following tools:

  • React
  • React context for global state management
  • TypeScript
  • React Query for managing data fetching
  • Formik
  • Yup for form validation
  • CSS modules
  • React Table if you have tabulated data on the frontend
  • Express and MongoDB for the backend
  • Bonus: write unit tests using Jest and React Testing Library
  • Double bonus: use Cypress to write end-to-end tests

Most of the tools above (excluding mongo and express) are tools I used in my last job, and using them would demonstrate a professional competency.

Lean on tools like ChatGPT to help guide you during development. I’ve used it recently on a personal project and it’s extremely helpful. I feel like it cut down my development time by quite a bit and just made the process a lot smoother.

2 Likes

…you’ve React dev build running…

Ok you caught me. I feared someone might call me out for the that! I actually was aware that I was using the React dev build and finally fixed it today by trashing whatever Frankenstein’s Webpack monster configuration I was using and replacing it with Create React App. My first setup wasn’t building with the production build of React no matter what I did.

Don’t invent stuff for your resume - “Freelance” for people without experience usually is just a placeholder like ‘lorem ipsum’…

Yes. I have been conflicted about embellishing myself. I will admit I have not been paid for any work. I normally wouldn’t have overstated my experience, but you see I have a friend who built a Bootstrap website for a fake company and put that on his résumé and he’s got a job as a Database dude now. Thus “fake it till you make it” became more appealing. But I didn’t really realize I could just put my projects as my relevant experience. That is much better and of course more honest.

People without experience will be hired because they show potential, so do some (at least one) reasonably complex project and keep applying.

Yes. I’m actually going to be in the Chingu Voyage starting at the beginning of January! And I continue to work through the fCC curriculum.

Thank you for your blunt and helpful advice!

For sure you’re ready! But of course, you can keep improving yourself, your resume, portfolio and growing your network.

Here’s my bit of feedback; I pretty much agree with everything that’s already been said but I’ll give my perspective on your “Projects section”

What is your best project?

The top of your website is just a grid of random projects. If I only review one of them, which one do you hope it is?

Choose your best project and make sure it’s the most prominent project and obvious that if I’m reviewing your work, I should click on “that one”.

Why are these projects interesting?

So I click on a project that I think looks cool. So what now? What am I even assessing? Are you showcasing your ability to design something from scratch, or your ability to implement someone elses? Are you proud of the code, or just the fact that you figured out the functionality? What about this project I’m looking at excites you?

If you don’t give a little primer on what parts of a project you’re trying to have stand out, and share a bit about what challenges you faced, you’re leaving it entirely up to the reviewer to decide what’s important to look at and come to conclusions about you that may not even be true.

Add some descriptions!

Polish

Just my opinion and this is a bit generalized, because there are exceptions to these rules but I think it looks unprofessional when:

  • The project is clearly a school or fCC project (i.e. met the minimum requirements for a passing grade)
  • The project is hosted on websites like codepen
  • The UI lacks any thought for design

Nothing wrong with finding designs out there either to copy or inspire. Just make sure you credit the original designer. If you’re looking for work as a developer, you’re job is going to be to implement a design already made for you, not create a design yourself.

Nothing wrong with school or fCC projects on your portfolio either. As long as they’re starting points for something that goes above and beyond the initial scope. Get rid of the fCC test suites on your portfolio projects too. It makes it very obvious that it’s a “school project”

Looks like you know how to host sites on github pages, so use that for your other projects too. Or checkout other sites like Netlify which are free and easy to use.

Hope this feedback is helpful!

1 Like

Harsh criticism (and respectful, such as yours) is most welcome!

Here is the post where I got my résumé format: Reddit: “I’m an ex-recruiter for some of the top companies in the world. I’ve screened tens of thousands of resumes…” Perhaps that format is better suited for other types of jobs? Or perhaps people just have very different opinions! Anyway, I shall strive to implement the essence of your advice while maintaining my own style!

My names in different scripts are intended to draw visual attention to my résumé while demonstrating my interest in languages. Including my interests is indeed to provide a personal touch that may help in an interview and/or spark a connection with the reader. I can see how these both can come across as unprofessional and unfocused. I will consider your advice going forward.

I agree! Here is my current draft:


I’m not sure exactly how to rectify the Skills and Projects design with the following sections but this definitely gets to the point more quickly than my previous draft.

I’ve been submitting applications and trying to contact someone from each company which often requires hunting down an email address :sweat_smile:. That can take some time. Perhaps I should stop that.

I got the idea from this article, I believe, but now I realize I’m not even following the full process. I haven’t been making videos, or mini-projects, for sure!

Short Term Networking with Cold Email

Alright now we’re going to get into a somewhat controversial method of networking. But it’s one of my favorites not only for networking, but for directly landing a job.

The cool thing about this method is that the primary goal is to make yourself stand out to land a job, but it’s an indirect networking tool as well.

Because even if you don’t land a job directly from it, you have placed yourself in someone’s mind as unique and willing to go the extra mile for something they care about.

Basically it comes down to these steps:

  1. Finding a few, say 5-10, companies you really admire and want to work for
  2. Finding the best contact person at the company
  3. Finding their email address (Twitter DMs and LinkedIn messages could also work if you can’t find an email)
  4. Figure out something small of value you could contribute and build a small mini-project custom for them that demonstrates that thing of value
  5. Send in a video pitch introducing yourself, talking about why you love that company in particular, and talking about why you would be a great addition to the team

It’s very interesting to hear your counter-perspective.

Many thanks for your detailed feedback!

My names in different scripts are intended to draw visual attention to my résumé while demonstrating my interest in languages. Including my interests is indeed to provide a personal touch that may help in an interview and/or spark a connection with the reader.

This isn’t your dating profile. They don’t care if you like pina coladas and slow walks on the beech. They don’t care about your passion for Moroccan food or your dislike of chipmunk art. All they care about is if you are right for the job. Don’t waste their time with stuff that distracts them from what they need to know. You have to first get past the technical gate. Once you get past that, you get interviews - that’s where some of your personality can come through. At this point, they don’t care. At this point that can’t help you, it can only hurt you by making you look unfocused and/or not clear on what is important here.

If you are applying for a job in Korea, then put your Korean name at the top.

Don’t waste valuable space telling them things they don’t care about.

Don’t do “Skills and Projects”. You want a skills section that is just a list of keywords. They want a React developer with redux, SQL, and Node? The HR manager is going to take 2 seconds to look and see how many of those key words they can match up - if they don’t find them in a few seconds, they dump yours and go through the other 150 they need before lunch.

The first thing a hirer wants to know is what you are - you’ve added “front end developer” - that’s good. It’s a little “hidden” because of the distraction of the three other scripts, but OK.

Next they want to know what kind of job you are looking for. I have to dig through your stuff to find that. Again, under your title should be a few sentences saying what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a junior position? Tech lead? What stack? What type of employment? You seem to want to make them guess.

Next they want to know what your stack is. They want an easy to scan list - this is what I do. Keep in mind that the gate keepers are not always technical people - they just have a list of keywords are trying to match them to your resume. You seem to want to make them work for it.

You have room to do this, but you might have to get rid of some of the stuff they don’t care about.

I cringe when I read things like “creative coding”. To me it sounds very amateurish. Everyone thinks they’re a creative coder. Everyone there is passionate about coding. It’s like saying, “I know how to tie my shoes.” Great, good for you. Why is that on your resume.

Everything that isn’t about why you are a good fit for the job is a waste of space and a waste of their valuable attention.

1 Like

That can be a worthwhile idea, but probably more for more senior people. But if there is a job you really want, you might put in some extra effort. You can find people on linkedin. Find people with the job you want. Find the hiring managers.

1 Like

Here is the post where I got my résumé format

I don’t know, I like some of what he said, some not so much. I got what I know by (literally) asking after I got rejected, what I could do better, and by helping a few managers and other devs sort through resumes.

  • Don’t put an objective section or summary. It’ll be skipped, and it’s space that can be used better.

I don’t know, maybe that is just him. Or maybe the industry is just different. Programming is a weird field - there is an insane number of openings and an insane number of applicants. The problem is getting a match of skill level and list of skills to match. So people that hire developers have to comb through and insane number of jobs. It’s not like hiring a Spanish Teacher. They speak Spanish. There (usually) are not going to be 500 different possible sub specializations, you need 15 of them, and you hope the next resume you have will have at least half of them.

Don’t make it hard for them.

Try to read it in 10 seconds or less and see what you take away from it.

I say this all … the … time. That is what I’m talking about with your resume. I wouldn’t even say 10 seconds, I’d say 5.

You don’t need to list so many projects. Just list your best 3.

Interests are important because it gives the interviewer something to connect with you on, and it makes you more than just a faceless resume.

Again, I don’t know what field this guy is talking about. When we talked about different candidates at work, their hobbies never came up once. True, after an interview, someone might say, “hey, this guy seems like fun”. But it is more in a general sense, we want someone that will be fun to work next to, not someone to train iguanas with or go to Harry Potter conventions with. If they care, they’ll ask in the interview, but even then it’s probably more about how you answer, rather than what specific hobbies you have.

If you must have it, just keep it to one line. And just list three things - you don’t want to sound unfocussed, like you’re all over the map.

I don’t know, I think that guys resume template is boring and sloppy. If I see a resume like that, I think This person did the bare minimum they could get away with. This is boring formatting. This looks like some default resume from 1998. He didn’t even line up the columns? Again, I don’t like crazy formatting, but I think a little thought helps. I could see if he were going for a brutalist aesthetic, but he doesn’t even pull that off. It’s like he took the default resume and filled in a few things, broke some of the formatting and didn’t fix it. It’s like his statement that formatting is irrelevant. In a perfect world, it would be. We don’t live in that world, regardless of what he tells himself.

Relative to his, I like that you have the underline on section titles. Maybe a different color?

I don’t like the grid lines, definitely not the dotted ones. I still think you can remove two lines from your degree section.

1 Like

Okay, how about this one! :slight_smile:

Honestly, your layout in the first post was far, far easier to read.

1 Like

My comments are based off the most recent iteration of the posted resume:

  • Your statement at the top doesn’t really add anything useful to the resume. Either replace it with something more useful, or just delete it.
  • I’d recommend avoiding all of the split-layout columns. They don’t scan well by ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems), and typically only the left-most columns will be parsed. Remove the split-layout columns to avoid this problem, and just do a top-down layout.
  • The only skills you should list are things that you’d be comfortable with answering a random question about in an interview. If there’s anything that you can’t do that with, delete it from the list.
  • “English Teacher, South Korea” sounds very nebulous. English teacher where? You should specify a more specific educational institution, and a more specific location than an entire country. Also did you mean “English as a second language”? If you did, you should add the acronym “ESL”. The jobs you list on a resume should all be able to be verifiable.
  • When you’re 7 years removed from college and have work experience, you don’t need to state your GPA from college. Just take that out.
  • Your CodePen, FCC, and Stack Overflow links don’t need to be on your resume. None of those are useful links to put on a resume, and would be better to put on a LinkedIn profile instead.
1 Like

Yeah. Phrases like “Lifelong learner seeking to leverage self-taught skills…” is meaningless. Stop trying to wow them with flowery poetry. Tell them exactly what you are. “I am an experienced frontend developer specializing in React looking for a junior position. I am based in Fargo but can work remotely or will relocate for the right position.” That tells them something.

I agree that this layout is a little too busy.

Your CodePen, FCC, and Stack Overflow links don’t need to be on your resume.

Yeah, I agree with that. It’s just move all the contact info up into the upper right. For me, phone, email, linkedin, portfolio.

Sorry, but I don’t like your bullet point choices.

Personally, I thought your other layout was “OK”, just maybe needed a little spicing up.

  • When you’re 7 years removed from college and have work experience, you don’t need to state your GPA from college. Just take that out.

Yeah, that’s probably true. I think I left my 4.0 and summa cum laude in, but I can see the argument that it “expires”. I’ve heard runners complain about other runners bragging about their marathon time from 10 years ago.

1 Like

Another option to consider - one “employment specialist” once recommended A/B testing resumes. Come up with two different design concepts and see which gets more hits.

1 Like

Haha, okay :stuck_out_tongue: ! Here’s the newest draft!

Thank you again everyone for the detailed feedback you’ve been providing. It is priceless.

My gratitude for the feedback! Leon Noel’s (palindrome, :stuck_out_tongue: ) networking sheet is a great idea. I already have a sheet for job applications and follow ups, but I hadn’t thought of one for networking.