My talented friend handed in their CV during Covid. Not one interview!

The miserable junior dev catch-22: entry-level jobs require experience but how in the world are you supposed to get that experience without being able to get a job?

Don’t get discouraged by this, it’s very common and an unfortunate reality of the industry.

Developers who don’t have experience are extra risky hires for companies, so you have to go above and beyond to make yourself stand out to make the decision less risky for them.

What does your portfolio site look like? I can offer some feedback if you like.

I would also recommend getting your online presence set up and beginning to network and writing some content to increase your credibility.

I actually wrote an article for FCC on getting past that irritating catch-22 for new devs that might be relevant to what you’re dealing with: How to Be Taken Seriously as a New Developer


I got offered a frontend job today with no prior experience, my CV has been discarded by probably 150+ employers and it’s taken me 1.5 years to get to this point… just keep going. This is just one experience and one employer.

Your portfolio… my feedback is upgrade the css, use material design bootstrap or an equally brilliant css library like tailwind. I never use just css by itself because you can make your site look 50x more professional with a css library.

Secondly don’t lock employers out of parts of your website by asking them to register and login. They won’t register and they won’t login.

Thirdly use a traditional navbar. Having the navigation laid out on cards like that is confusing, people aren’t used to navigating a site like that.


It sounds like the agency that you contacted only works with people who have some professional experience. When it comes to job titles, “junior” is often not the same as “entry level”. Developers are typically considered “junior” developers for the first few years of their careers, until they have demonstrated their ability to work independently and lead others. That isn’t to say that a job posted as a “junior developer” won’t look at a candidate without professional experience, but the recruitment agency might choose to filter more aggessively.

1 year of experience doesn’t sound unreasonable, keeping in mind that it may not be required to be paid professional experience. I would estimate that most self-taught developers are hired after they’ve spent at least a year coding - whether that’s advanced personal projects, open source, freelancing, or otherwise.


Um, to be brutally honest, the portfolio doesn’t show anything or tell me anything about you, so there is nothing to say about it, it might as well not be there. There is absolutely no way I am registering on your site to be able to see your work. If you have a website you are using to promote yourself, making it actively hostile to users is not a good thing to do. It gives an extremely negative first impression. If that is a portfolio, there is nothing on that site that should require authentication (however, a. why is there a shop, b. why would I possibly need to login to look at the shop, c. why “our” rather than “mine”).


The captcha wouldn’t take and something demanding cookies blocked my access to your portfolio. So I have no feedback.


While FCC is a very useful learning guide, completing the certificates doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything, and it doesn’t mean that you’re job-ready either. What can you actually build? Do you meet these criteria yet: How do you know when you are ready to apply to jobs? - #2 by astv99

No offense intended, but the fact that you’re presenting work on CodePen means that you have further to go. The only thing you should be using CodePen for (as a developer) is to show off snazzy CSS animations & effects. I mean, take a look at the CodePen homepage, if you haven’t already.

And based on the work that you have on CodePen, it seems that you’re not quite job-ready yet. No offense intended of course. You’re clearly making progress, but you’re just not there yet and need to get further along. You should build more advanced projects, i.e. fully-interactive web apps in your front-end library or framework of choice. Make something that solves a business problem, and deploy it to something like Heroku. When you can build a professional-looking SPA deployed to Heroku (and no longer need CodePen), then you’ll be job-ready.

Also I agree on the “Register” thing on your site. That really needs to be removed. It’s an instant turn-off.

Lastly the UI/UX on your website isn’t the most professional-looking. I’d recommend an aesthetic revamp. Just make it clean, simple, & direct. Borrow from a design elsewhere if you need to.


Thanks for reaching out Dan, your feedback is noted in particular as I feel like your reaction was especially strong.

You have done a lot in a month so far.
But that is really fast to start looking for jobs.
I don’t think anyone can be job ready after 30 days.

I would just keep learning and building.

Part of this is this narrative of learn to code quickly and get a job in x amount of days.
This narrative is all over the internet.
But that is really damaging for beginners.

What is wrong with taking your time to build a healthy foundation first?

It takes time to get good at something.
There is no rush.
Jobs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. :grinning:


The current market for entry level web dev jobs is a buyer’s market.

Many people want to get a job, but Corona makes a lot of them remote, so there are not so many buyers out there who want to deal with this.

Your approach of hiding stuff behind registration better fits a seller’s market. You can do this when you are an experienced expert in a very popular field, e.g. 20y experience and an PhD in AI.

I mean I’m not even allowed to read your blog posts.

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You need to temper your expectations a little bit here. Look at this objectively: you are trying to get a skilled job. As pointed out in other posts, “junior” doesn’t mean you don’t have experience, it’s a level, ie junior relative to the other people at a company. And an agency requires people they can parachute in to complete jobs quickly: a junior role there will equal less responsibility, but you still need to be able to prove you can do the job, which you cannot do with only a month learning basics in the internet.

Say you have spent a month doing a Udemy course on Excel. Would you have the expectation that an accountancy firm would hire you? If you’ve done an online first aid course, would you expect to be hired as a nurse? If you’ve spent a month learning SOLIDWORKS, would you get hired as a mechanical engineer?

Programming is slightly different in that there is no certification body, no gatekeeping of that kind: self-taught developers are not at a great disadvantage in the jobs market. But it’s still in most respects a skilled job: you need to be realistic here. A very few people get very lucky, but they’re the exception. If you send a CV to a company with only a month learning, it will go straight in the bin unless there is some very obvious transferable experience. It’s not personal, but it should be expected


I’ve also noticed that in our field even for junior positions they want experience. Please do not be discouraged by that response, try looking at internships and learnerships as well just to gain some experience… in some companies once they have offered you an internship if they see that you know you game, they don’t let you go but absorb you.

Recently, I went on an interview for a position I know I was not ready for. The interviewer was about to write me off, until I showed a project that was not part of the “official application documents”. We had a nicer conversation after that. Now I know how to present myself next time.

I guess I’m saying is, “You will miss every shot you don’t take, 100% of the time”. Don’t give up. Take chances. Keep applying and improving. Think about who your audience is ~ the agency probably doesn’t understand what you’re building. Find someone who does and pitch yourself. Contribute to open source, or nonprofits. Don’t focus on “official experience”, focus on your own experience. Everything counts.

That first job is nearly impossible to get. Nearly. You are going to get a lot of rejection. And a fair amount of ghosting. That’s just part of the job. Once you have that first job, things get a lot easier, but getting that first one is insanely difficult.

There is some great advice here - soak it up. At the risk of more shameless self-promotion, I once wrote up a doc with some thoughts on landing that first gig.


Can I branch on this topic and ask for more explanation on the presentation of projects? I understand not using CodePen, but should all work be presented via github or other methods?

Employers aren’t going to much care whether it’s a codepen url or github pages, netlify, or whatever, but codepen is for trivial one-offs: as soon as you add another page, you’ll have to switch to something else. So you may as well engineer it right from the start, and it’ll also demonstrate that you know how to work a build toolchain rather than just pasting things into codepen.

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Yes basically you should use other platforms for hosting projects. The reason is because CodePen is a very limited environment, and as mentioned above, it’s hard to build multi-page sites in it. And although CodePen allows React and Vue to be imported, the CDN approach of using those is not ideal, and certainly not what you’d be using in most professional roles, which would be far more likely to use Webpack with CreateReactApp or the Vue CLI.

You can use any number of platforms for hosting front-end projects, i.e. and GitHub Pages come to mind, but there are plenty of others.

For back-end projects, there’s Heroku, Netlify, Digital Ocean, et al. Most platforms have free tiers you can use.

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Yeah, github [EDIT: I meant “codepen” here] is training wheels. It’s useful for beginners and just to test something out, but I’d be nervous if I had a job applicant that had everything on codepen. Do they know how to build a real web page?

As someone who’s been doing this for over 5 years professionally and reviews resumes time-to-time…

I see “Register to see source code”

Nope. Bye.

May sound harsh, and I’m sorry, but if your resume came up in my notifications and I went to look at your portfolio I would immediately move on to the next candidate.

The site itself looks pretty cool over all, and it’s responsive, looks good on a phone etc. But it’s not making it easy for people who need to figure out if you’re a viable candidate in less than 30 seconds.

There’s just too much in one place. It’s cool if you want to paywall your content and advertise other things you do but the site doesn’t seem like a “portfolio” to me. You need something more focused.

Maybe you need a separate page or site on a subdomain that is specifically for showcasing your work. Explain a bit about who you are and make your best work front and center.

When I click on your projects page the first thing I see is this:

Not a great first impression.

The second project is eleven lines of code that checks to see if a string is a palindrome. Great practice! But not a portfolio piece. I want to see real projects that you’ve built and I don’t want to see them on Codepen. And I want links to GitHub. And I don’t ever want to see “register to use my site”. I would just never do it.

This is above and beyond but I’d take some pointers from this post: Got my FIRST DEV JOB! 🚀


It has to be really, really impressive for me to overlook the fact that your portfolio piece is hosted on codepen.

Like this:

I could care less where you host it, it’s just impressive.

But if you’re applying for work and have no previous experience or schooling I need to see that you know how to do some basic web developer things like host a web site, like you said, setup a basic toolchain.

Problem with codepen is I have no idea if you even know how to setup a local dev environment. Maybe you only know how to write code in a browser.

Even in the example above, it would catch my attention sure, but there has to be more to your portfolio than that.

I’m not sure the new rules will allow me to tell you to go here or follow these people to help you get ready for a job. But, at least in the US, having your own domain name (not Mr. Halls), portfolio pieces that are relevant to the companies you want to hire you, and building your brand go a long way to helping get you hired.

If you were to code the fashion nova site from scratch and turn it into wordpress and shopify themes. That goes a long way toward proving yourself to agency and e-commerce companies. Then it’s a matter of getting it in front of the right people (networking)
Don’t lock it down. Leave it open to the world.