I have been teaching myself front-end development for about 10 months now. I still have not been able to land my first dev role. I have been doing spray and pray with applications, but feel I may need to reach out to hiring managers to increase my chances of an interview. I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to change my approach or insight on what I may be doing wrong.
I am targeting front-end web dev jobs mostly, but am also applying to junior developer job listings as well. I have only gotten two technical assessment/project opportunities after plenty of applications. I didn’t land either of those jobs so obviously my skills need to improve a bit, but feel my portfolio and/or resume may be part of why I am not landing more interviews/assessments.
Also, I would appreciate an honest opinion on my portfolio of highlighted projects and resume, which can be found on my portfolio site home page. Based on my projects so far, do you all believe I am ready for a junior role? Does my resume look okay? Thank you all for listening.
Projects displayed have a good selection of different technologies.
There are a few things that make it look “less polished”:
slow, quirky, inconsistent animations:
your contact page “moves” on load
your name “drops” but the sub-text slides in?
your services highlight to purple, but aren’t interactive.
generally the slower the animations you have the more “slow” your site feels.
There’s also an inconsistent use of motion, where it’s not actually clear what/where any of this motion represents. I’d be-careful about having too many animations for the sake of animations. Having a few consistent decently fast ones might be better, or even having none might keep your site feeling straight forward and “clean”.
I’d consider removing your custom word spacing and let the text flow. This text is hard to read due to the custom word spacing.
The first and only thing I noticed with your resume is its two pages, thats an instant no-no in my book. Hiring managers are usually pretty picky, and have limited time. Seeing your resume take up 2 pages means a number of things instantly:
inconsiderate use of space
inconsiderate use of (the companies) time
inability to keep your relevant background concise
None of these are good, hence why having a 2 page resume is almost always an instant chance killer.
Consolidate your resume to make 1 page, even the most experienced developers should be able to provide extremely relevant information for the job at hand on just 1 page. Also becareful with only providing links, these become unusable if your resume is printed or gets ill formatted.
I only checked out the shoe store. The first thing I noticed is the slowness. My initial guess is that the images on the page are full-scale and thus not optimized to be thumbnails. This slows down the page as my browser is loaded full resolution images only to shove them into a small thumbnail.
This is usually one of the biggest performance issues with “media heavy” pages that you’ll see a lot. It’s also one area where optimizing becomes important, as no one wants to buy from a slow site. Due to the nature of the site being a “store”, performance is pretty important as the faster the site, the higher conversion. The usual optimization is to “optimize” images at some point so you can have small thumbnails, and only load the full images later. There are plenty of other optimizations, but thats the main one. (Some frameworks support this sort of optimization out of the box, I believe nextjs is one, but gatsby should have a similar capability, or just roll your own)
Otherwise the features provided seem sensible, and even connects to stripe in demo mode!
I’d also be careful about the “contact us” button, that UI pattern usually is reserved for chat-bots/live-chat, usually via an external service and not built-from-scratch.
Yes you look ready, but the “devil is in the details”. There could be many reasons why you aren’t getting picked up, so be sure to ask for feedback when and where you can during the process so you can work on those. Hopefully some of these changes above increase the amount of chances you get to at least ask for feedback.
You will go from “spray and pray” to “never click apply” in one go!
Full disclosure, I did get my first dev job by clicking apply, but I would still recommend the approach in the video for most people. I have done a lot of networking and informational interviews over the years, but I have never seen such a comprehensive and tech-specific approach as this - and I have watched every career development video that LinkedIn Learning has ever published
Hey, I just wanted to say I appreciate how detailed and thorough your response was as there are lots of things I can go work on to present a better portfolio.
Yeah I guess I’d probably remove most of the animations then as I don’t want it to hurt the feel of the site. That’s a good point about the services section as well, I hadn’t thought about that.
Good catch. I’ll try it with the default spacing.
I wasn’t sure about the resume being 1 page or 2 pages. I had originally used a 1-page template with the projects section being the majority of it. I wasn’t getting much response with that resume so I submitted my CV for Revision to a recommended guy on Fiverr and the 2-pager was what I got back. I’ll work it back down to 1-page as that was what I had heard from the majority before the revision.
Yeah, I definitely need to work on that on this project. I actually built this site with nextjs, and tried to use some of the image optimizations, but I’ll go back to the docs and try and get the configuration correct so that it hopefully won’t slow down the site as much.
Noted. I’ll probably remove that then.
Again, appreciate your response very much. I’ve got some actionable tasks to work on and improve the site a bit.
Thanks for the recommendation. I have watched a couple of his videos of his previous year, so I’ll check this one out.
I’ve been trying the spray and pray and getting about as much response as you’d expect, so hopefully, this will help my chances. By chance did you apply on many different sites or just specific ones like LinkedIn or Indeed?
High quality applications can usually be better than spray and pray if you can get enough “quality” into your stuff that you get enough hits, and are able to carry through the interview process.
As the term goes “pray[ing]” isn’t necessarily the best action item compared to polish, and just sheer investment into your skills. 10 months is 10 months, and you’ve gotten far in that time, but if your going against CS grads who just spent at least 4 years in an education environment learning underlying theories and some practical skills, you will have to leverage what you can to show your at least semi-comparable with some sort of “angle”.
That “angle” really is how you’ll sell yourself to potential employers. It could be really anything, from leveraging your personal background, to leveraging soft-skills you’ve built up, to just being passionate about what you do and being able to convey that in your resume, portfolio and projects.
Finally, someone on Fiverr that writes resumes might not really understand “this angle”, as only you really know your story and know what you can bring to the table for a given job. You want to stand out as much as possible, so leveraging your background, your personal story, and building that “angle” can be the difference between looking like the other 50 applicants, and getting actual interest.
Portfolio looks nice to me, but 10 months is what raised my eyebrows a little. I know you said front-end, but the sites are barely interactive at all. If you’re going to use ecommerce sites and the like in your portfolio, you should have a backend of some sort, really. The pages, frankly, all look somewhat the same. It feels like a very modern, generic style (kind of obvious you’re using Gatsby here, it basically defaults to that kind of look).
Try doing some unique designs and coding those. If you just want to display html/css prowess, focus on giving it a unique look. If you’re going to include web apps, build FULL apps to deploy. Just my two cents.
Yeah, that’s a fair point. Do you have any ideas on putting some interactivity into the apps? I was thinking for the e-commerce I could add in a popup modal that displays products after a certain period of no scroll or movement.
I have been learning a bit of Node lately, but haven’t added it into any of my previous frontend projects. Why does it need a backend though? I know it would be a better overall app with more features that way, but I still thought it was decent with being hooked up to Stripe.
Thanks for the feedback. I’m going to work on the designs a bit and try and get more interactivity on each page.