More job search kvetching

You should definitely update your portfolio just a little bit. I noticed that your website wasn’t responsive on my phone. Are you using bootstrap on your website? It looked almost like the viewport wasn’t set correctly in the head section. I’m on my phone so I didn’t look.

How well do you know Vue/angular? It’s good to try a different framework, it’ll help you learn react even more knowing the differences between them.

BTW, I’m almost 40 and just got my first developer job this year, was in pharma til a few months ago.


Just checked out your portfolio. If I were you, I’d work on your design skills. It looks like you did the bare minimum so you could focus on the coding part. I’d also work on your writing skills. Read The Elements of Style and get someone to proofread your website and your resume.

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Yes, I am not a designer and I tend to spend the majority of my time learning to code. I have read The Elements of Style. I’ve actually worked as a professional proofreader, but this was hastily put together and I am often terrible at proofreading my own stuff (It’s like the old joke of the mechanic whose car is falling apart.) Was there something specific you had in mind?

I know this kind of stuff helps, but being trapped in my day job, and having only a limited amount of time, it seems like building another app or learning a new tech would be time better spent then studying the the minutiae of design. For example I am currently rushing to complete two projects for interview processes. I’m already working at full-steam.

But if you have something specific, I’d love to hear it.

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if you are getting interviews, then your resume/portfolio is probably good enough.
Trying to get the interviewers to give you constructive feedback may be the next step here.

Yeah, but I also don’t mind trying to make things a little better, as long as it doesn’t get into bike-shedding territory. And who knows, maybe I could get more? I have two active interviewing processes at the moment, but that’s kind of an aberration.

Proofreading your own writing is always hard. I wrote short stories before I wrote code, and I always thought I didn’t need a proofreader. I was usually wrong.

Specifically, I noticed this in your portfolio:

Depending on the your needs, issues like speed, responsiveness, accessibility, and bandwidth are taken into account.

Disregarding the grammatical error, that’s an atrocious sentence. How? By Whom? When have you done this?

I also noticed this in your resume:

Freelance project building a React Native front end for an e-commerce site, using Redux, Redux, Redux-Thunk, and implementing i18n and navigation.

I didn’t read everything, but those aren’t the only errors.

Regarding writing style, I’m thinking of Section II. Elementary Principles of Composition:

  1. Use the active voice.
  2. Use definite, specific, concrete language.
  3. Omit needless words.

Your writing is an expression of your self. Think about the qualities employers are looking for, the qualities you have–enthusiasm, professionalism, whatever–and how you can demonstrate those through your writing.

I’m not a designer either, and this is just my opinion, but to me, your portfolio looks generic, old fashioned, and cluttered.


It looks like every other Bootstrap site ever made, but it lacks the finer points that make, say, this site look really good. There’s nothing wrong with Bootstrap, especially for a non-designer, but you have to do it well.

Old fashioned

Most of your projects look 10 years old. I think it’s the font and color choices and the strictly functional design. This site is a great example of modern design.


There’s a lot going on without a clear focus; the heading font looks too much like the body font; and the layout is inconsistent. In the case of your dungeon crawler, the layout is criminal.

Since you’re getting interviews, people must be able to look past this stuff, but I wouldn’t.

Design matters for the same reason dressing well for an interview matters. It’s not just showing you care. People will draw conclusions about your education, background, personal life, etc. based on stupid crap like how your hair is parted.

For a junior developer role, I don’t think your technical skills are the issue. If it’s not your portfolio, my best guess is that it’s the area and/or the interview.

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Thank you for the time. Yeah, some of those duplicate words I caught on my latest version of my resume but sometimes I forget to upload it everywhere it needs to go.

Your notes on style are well taken. Unfortunately some of this is just a patchwork of cut and past of older versions. I need to sit down and write it out fresh.

Disregarding the grammatical error, that’s an atrocious sentence. How? By Whom? When have you done this?

But your saying it’s already cluttered so I’m not sure including extensive details at the top is going to help that.

Disregarding the superfluous “the”, I really think “atrocious” is a bit harsh. True, it could be in the active voice. Maybe it’s a flaw of my upbringing, but I always find too much active voice to be aggressive. I was taught not to say the words “I” and “me” too much. But maybe that’s what I need.

There’s a lot going on without a clear focus; the heading font looks too much like the body font;

One is sans-serif and the other is serif. I use bold for the subheadings and italics for any groupings I need. How different does it have to be? I’m seriously asking - I thought I found those fonts as a suggested pairing and they looked good to me but it sounds like you are more knowledgeable than I am and this subject.

and the layout is inconsistent.

You must have a better eye than mine. Where is it inconsistent?

I’ve considered spending some time redesigning my site, just the layout. Polygons seem to be big. The other problem is a matter of taste - I don’t like flash and people trying to impress me with cloying styles. I like things simple and elegant and functional. I find a lot of “trendy” websites to be annoying. But that’s why I don’t want to be a designer.

The danger is that if I try to be that which I do not like or respect, I risk going overboard and farrago of mimicry. But perhaps that’s how I’ll learn.

In the case of your dungeon crawler, the layout is criminal. … Most of your projects look 10 years old. I think it’s the font and color choices and the strictly functional design.

Yes, the projects are even worse. I was learning programming, not design. And I was racing to get them done before beta went live. It’s a matter of priorities - do I spend a few weeks overhauling all my projects? Or do I spend that time learning mySQL? Or Python? Or do I work on a new React Native project for my portfolio? Or do I use some of that time to fill out applications? (Which seems to be a part-time job.) I tried to start a thread once talking about trying to find the right balance of all these things - it didn’t take off.

One interviewer looked over my portfolio and said, “I think you’re really more of a back-end guy.” I took it to mean that I had no design sense. I agree.

Use the active voice.
Use definite, specific, concrete language.
Omit needless words.

Yeah, good points. Those all expose my bad habits as a writer, especially when I try to speak in a higher register.

Again, I should probably rewrite the text in a continuous flow instead of cutting and pasting and inserting and deleting.

Yeah, I am a horrible designer. I’m not really trying to get work as a designer. Most of the places I am applying are big enough that they have their own designers or at least their own designs.

Look, I understand if you don’t want to take the time to answer this - it’s my problem not yours. But I do appreciate your time and will think about what you’ve said.

I’m not a brilliant designer; I’m just opinionated and slightly obsessive.

I agree that design is less important if you’re interviewing for a back-end role, but it’s not irrelevant. Depending on who looks at your portfolio, they’ll still judge you for it. Back-end roles are also more competitive.

You don’t have to learn all the ins and outs. If you can recognize and implement good designs, even from a template, that should be good enough.

It’s hard to Applying all of Strunk and White’s rules is hard, but it sets you apart as someone who knows how to write. The active voice projects confidence, and people have no patience for meaningless words.

Regarding typography, I noticed that font-weight: boldest on the h1 does nothing. Changing it to font-weight: bold actually makes a big difference. The font is OK. The size and weight is more what makes it hard to distinguish.

These are some things I would try:

  1. Use h1 for your section headers and h2 for your subheaders.
  2. Use consistent values for margin and padding.
  3. Use relative units like em, rem, or %. I like vw, but it can get weird.
  4. Get rid of border-radius: 5px.
  5. Add a picture to Introduction or About Me.
  6. Try different things until I’m happy with the result.

This is me screwing around:

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Thank you for the time you put into this. I’ll look them over when my current interview projects are done.

That’s fascinating – why?? I can’t imagine why…back-end should be more difficult, no, which typically means less supply and thus more demand meaning less competition for (difficulty experienced by) the applicant…

Or is it simply that back-end is, being more difficult, also more richly remunerated and thus despite the decreased supply of talent relative to front-end positions there’s still enough to generate more competition…?

BTW, thanks for the breadth and depth of your examinations here; it’s been quite helpful to gain an insight into your mindset – i.e., anyone with such a mindset looking to hire (though I’ve enjoyed everyone’s contributions and have been liking so many posts that I’m being prevented from liking any more anymore for a whole half a day!! 0_o).


You’re welcome. I hope it helps.


There are far more front-end roles than back-end roles. Back end may be more technical (not necessarily more difficult), but that doesn’t mean fewer applicants. It’s something a CS or IT major could pick up more easily, and God knows there’s enough of those. Front end, depending on the role, involves both design and coding. Most people would rather do one or the other.

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I’ve also heard it said that companies are less apt to accept a new, especially self-taught dev for a back-end role. If you screw up an input on the interface or the text isn’t centered on the front end, it’s a problem. But on the back end, you could put the company out of business if you accidentally corrupt their DB.

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I’m not sure if this is entirely true as where I used to work (IBM) they would assign co-ops to back-end work.
(2nd and third year co-ops)

having said that, please note that:

  • portfolio is not needed to apply to a back-end software dev position (I’ve never had a portfolio and neither has anyone I know. Everyone I know is a run-of-the-mill software dev. and architects. No designers. But then again, everyone I know has a Uni degree)
  • a strong technical resume is needed (that means you’d have to dump all the references to music work and create a skill-centered resume. When asked to fill in gaps in resume you can supply info about career change, but impress them first). So you may need to make multiple resumes, one with ref to portfolio for web dev stuff and one without for eg.
  • if you don’t have linux/unix skillset, get it asap, it will help. Maybe hone in on security issues and if you are able to sell that you are familiar with how to code a secure app etc that may also help set you apart.

Edit: you did say you are looking at larger companies…larger companies have nightly (and sometimes hourly) db backups and code backups and it is rare for someone to be able to really mess something up permanently. Never heard of it in 15 years at IBM anyway. Smaller companies…no idea what they do! :slight_smile:

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