Landing my 1st VS 2nd developer job

and tips on how you can do it too.
This is the story of how I landed my 1st and 2nd developer job and what I learned through the process.

Before the job hunting
While I was still serving as an intern in a startup company in Amsterdam I started searching for jobs in Greece (where I’m originally from). The job hunting was hard. I didn’t have a lot of experience or skills.

Quick insertion of my resume →
{ back then:

  • I had just graduated from an engineering university;
  • While I was at the University, I had been working as laboratory assistant for 2.5 years, but no one seemed to care about it.
  • I had completed a 3-months internship in Greece;
  • I was doing another internship in Amsterdam; }

Side note: If you are a Junior developer looking for a job you may have noticed many companies refer to juniors as people who have more than three years of experience [personally I find it crazy!]. Positions requiring zero years of experience are called “entree positions” and not all companies offer them.

Back to my story: Guess what?! I couldn’t find a job advertisement with zero years of experience. So I started applying for junior positions.

Tip 1: Apply for positions even If you don’t meet all the required criteria.
Worst case scenario → you will not get the job.
Best case scenario → you just landed an interview, now it’s up to you to persuade your boss you are the most suitable person for the vacancy.

Side note: Don’t be discouraged of job advertisements.
Sometimes it goes like this →
[awesomeCompany is looking for a young, inspiring, aspiring, energetic, open-minded, hard-worker, positive-thinker, insert-a-big-word-here, “JUNIOR” full-stack developer with 10 years of experience. The developer must be a master in React, Angular, Vuejs and has proven back-end experience. It is also required to be a ninja in git/github and bitbucket. You must have worked before with agile/scrum methodology and in fact, you must have worked at least for 5 years as a scrum master. The awesomeCompany works with a variety of technologies but we prefer the newest, beta-libraries, alpha-frameworks and unicorn-versions because we are superstars and we can make everything work even if it’s not yet invented. Before sending your application answer to these 99 non-sense-questions. Please send your motivation letter, CV, links to your work, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, social media profiles, Skype ID, email address, home address, IP, and your ex-girlfriend’s number, because, yeah, we might need that also.
If you don’t meet ALL the pre-requisites don’t apply.]

How I landed my 1st job as a developer
I sent numerous applications to start-ups or well-known companies. Most of them either replied with a phrase that sums up to: “sorry, we are searching for more experienced developers” or did not answer at all. The few companies that were willing to meet me, were at the same time sending me a test (ok, I know this is a common practice, but back then I wasn’t aware of this trend).

The test results were usually leading to rejections.

After failing a lot, but never giving up, I received an email. A well-known firm, after examining my test, wanted to continue with me in the next phase, which was a face to face interview.

I was nervous yet excited to meet my interviewers.

Before the “big day” I practiced a lot, I read many articles about tips and tricks, interview questions and answers, I googled my interviewers… That day I was clean, fresh and on-time…

Tip 2: It sounds like a cliche but it’s true → the 1st impression is very important.
Tip 3: Prepare yourself with small/easy steps.
The day before: practice interview questions/answers, search for the company and the interviewers, don’t forget to shower and sleep eight hours at night.
That day: dress in a “smart” way (search the company’s website for a dress code or an Instagram page with employers), be on time (surveys shows you can be about 10 minutes earlier of your scheduled time but never later).
Always give a steady handshake, and be kind to everybody.

During the interview, I talked with the developer manager and also with the CTO and the CEO (yes, I was super nervous talking with the big guys). Although I had done my research I accidentally confused some facts about the interviewers. The same day I was also given another test to complete but the results would be emailed to me.

A couple weeks past and I received an email which sums up to this “your test results were fine, we like you, BUT we had a lot of better candidates”.

I was rejected but I didn’t feel defeated.

I replied back, asking for feedback.

Tip 4: Ask politely for feedback. Although it can be intimidating, you will be improved for future interviews.

They informed me that my portfolio wasn’t strong enough and there were more suitable — experienced candidates.

But wait, this is a story about landing my first job and now I just told you I got rejected.
Bear with me.

We exchanged several emails as I was trying to convince them I was actually suitable for the job and yeeeees, I did it! I persuaded my manager to hire me. I was so happy.

Tip 5, important: Believe in yourself even if no one else does. Know your value.

Basically I got the job because I believed in myself and I was aware of my skills.

Speeding things up, after my six-months contract ended I was left without a job. I needed some time to think and set my priorities.

During my 1st and 2nd developer job

Short version: I developed myself

I started studying for the first semester of my Master in “Graphic Arts and Multimedia”. I decided to study part-time so I could concentrate on reading, coding and developing my own little projects. And that was exactly what I did for the next few months…

I took my time, I didn’t rush it.

I was waking up every morning to study for my Master’s and later in the day I was coding in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and sometimes in angularjs. I was doing the challenges #100DaysOfCode, #dailycssimages and #301DaysOfCode to keep myself motivated and on track, I was also tweeting my progress and encouraging others to keep learning. I started writing and publishing about my interests on Medium, I completed some freecodecamp front-end challenges and angularjs projects, I shared my favourite design/developer tools on YouTube, I redesigned my portfolio website, I styled codepen’s home page and I created many code snippets.
In my coding journey, I received emails, tweets and the few Skype requests. I was (and still am) happy to meet and chat with other developers. Listening to their stories made me more motivated and encouraged me to #keepgoing.

Tip 6: Share your interests, tweet your progress, keep updating your social media/portfolio-website, and LinkedIn.
Tip 7: Be nice to people. Help and share twice as much as you currently do.

How I landed my 2nd job as a developer
It was just before lunchtime which means I was still reading for my Master’s degree when I received a LinkedIn message. As you may have noticed I am super focused while I study (or code), so I didn’t open the message. Later I found out that it was an opportunity for a job interview. I thought about my priorities and, yes, after all this reading and the countless hours of coding, it was time to move on. The manager and I scheduled an interview. Everything went great. Soon enough I got an offer.

Currently, I am working in a great team with young, inspiring developers. I feel comfortable, I can speak my mind, there is no bad judgment and the overall working environment is very friendly.

Final thoughts and more tips
Everyday I try to learn something new and develop myself.

  • Always try your best and know your value.
  • Encourage others to believe in themselves.
  • Stay strong despite the rejections.
  • Set your priorities and work everyday towards your goals.
  • Focus on the positive side of each story, don’t let things get down to you.
  • At the beginning, It’s gonna be hard, but you chose a career (hopefully) because you love it.
  • No one will give you an opportunity if you don’t fight for it.
  • Show your enthusiasm, share your passions.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact fail fast, then gather your thoughts, stand up, and keep going.

I promise you, great things are going to happen. Trust me. I’ve been there.

It would be nice to subscribe to my youtube channel. It helps to create more content.

Thanks for reading, have an awesome day!


Okay, I subscribed to your channel. Do you mind if we connect on LinkedIn?

Thank you for your story, it’s very inspiring and encouraging. :slight_smile:

May I ask you to develop the point regarding tip 4. How did you manage to convince the hiring manager?

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Yes sure!
that’s my profile

Thank you :slight_smile:

Hi Xavier,
I emailed him asking for a 2nd chance, I wanted to prove myself right because I believed in my skills.
Since they told me I wasn’t a strong enough candidate, I provided more links to my work.
I am still a junior developer, my work isn’t very advanced, in fact, I remember sending some html/css projects (not even javascript), but I mentioned several times I wanted to learn more and that I would work hard.
In the end he agreed to take me on board :slight_smile:

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Thank you very much for your answer! Your persistence paid off! Keep up the good work.

Just sent the invite.

Awesome. Thanks for sharing your experience! Just subscribed to your YouTube channel. Keep up the great work!

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