I’m a recent college grad (double A.S. in computer programming and web programming) and I was just rejected today from a really great internship. The most frustrating part is that the interviewer sent me a generic “best of luck” message. He didn’t tell me how I did on the little quiz he gave me or offer any tips on how I can improve. I’ve tried emailing him back but haven’t received a response. And sadly, I have the same story with another company I applied to recently.
So given that I have no idea what employers are really looking for and they don’t seem to be willing to offer advice, maybe you guys can help shed some light and look over my portfolio site and resume (which you can see by clicking on the link on my site)?
Sorry to hear you’re having a tough go at finding work. I’ll try to keep my criticisms to a minimum.
After reviewing your portfolio, there are a few suggestions I have.
The solar system website looks very dated. Perhaps you should revamp it or remove it altogether. White text on black background is taboo in most instances.
Some of the apps seem to be a bit buggy. Perhaps they’re still in development, I’m not sure. The music app kept giving me the Joshua Tree and nothing else. I had to reload the page several times before giving up and moving on.
The city explorer app also seemed buggy. I typed in “Atlanta” and suggested Beverly Hills and NYC. Perhaps you haven’t completed the database, but it was still confusing.
The secret diary app required a log-in, and I was not about to do that. Perhaps you should find a way to exhibit its functionality without requiring a login.
The Mountain Travel site was visually pleasing, but none of the links worked.
I’m not a recruiter and you definitely know a lot more about coding than I do. But as a regular human who likes technology, most of your portfolio seems a bit unpolished.
My suggestion would be to take a couple of these apps/websites and perfect them. Or create new, fantastic projects and remove those that underwhelm.
Forgive me if I came off as too harsh; that definitely was not my intention. Hopefully this gives you some guidance to improving your work and landing a coding job you love.
Hey, don’t get discouraged! Getting a job offer takes time! You can do this. One thing you might want to consider is adding a professional photo of your self on your portfolio. I wouldn’t get too down on yourself, you’re going to have some poor experiences with some companies that you interview with, and it’s not your fault, it just happens sometimes.
I once was talking with a recruiter and everything went really well when we chatted on the phone, and then I sent him over my portfolio and he told me that I really needed to hire a designer to make my portfolio look nicer. It didn’t make me feel that great hearing that about something that I spent so much time on making look good. But, just a few weeks later I interviewed with a really awesome company and was able to accept an offer.
Just keep up the good work and don’t give up. You got this!
Yeah, the solar system one was actually my first project so it’s kinda rough around the edges. I might replace it with something or at least change the coloring as you suggest.
Thanks for pointing out the problem with the music site. I’ve had a lot of problems with the layout because I’m using Materialize.css and find myself having to fight the framework at times, but I’ll try my best to fix it.
I wasn’t really sure what API to use for the city explorer to get all the cities and a picture of them so I just hard-coded everything into a JSON file. If you or someone else has some suggestions, that would be great.
For the secret diary, what would you suggest? I mean, it is secret after all.
The mountain travel site is actually an exercise from the Advanced Developer Bootcamp on Udemy and it only involved coding the front page.
First off, if you’ve been rejected from two jobs, that’s really nothing to worry about. I’d start getting worried if you’d applied to more than 10-15 and didn’t hear back from any of them, because getting rejected is pretty common.
Your resume does need some work on various points:
Calling yourself a fullstack web developer when you don’t have any work experience is hurting your credibility, even if you can actually technically do fullstack web development. Just take that part out.
Delete your mailing address as that’s personal info that no one needs to know. You could leave in the city and state, but that’s all you need (delete the ZIP code too). Delete it from your GitHub.io site too, it’s simply not necessary for a personal site.
The two-column layout is confusing to read, and won’t work with the automated systems that most mid- to large-sized companies use, because they scan top-down and not left-to-right. Make it a single-columnar layout.
Your Education bullet points are too wordy. Use symbols instead of words to make them more concise and easier to scan, like this:
A.S. in Computer Programming and Web Programming | Santa Monica College | 3.91 GPA.
Your GPAs are impressive, but not really needed, and as good as those are, recruiters and HR can still use those against you when they get applicants with even higher GPAs. So just leave that out.
Putting “Strong communication and organization skills. Highly creative problem solver.” on your own resume isn’t a good idea to do. It’s just full of meaningless buzzwords, and that makes you look arrogant on your own resume, which can put off most recruiters and HR managers.
To the average hiring person seeing “Project Highlights”, they’re going to expect professional projects that you did as part of work experience (like as a contractor). Not personal projects that you did for a random course on the Internet. Again, this hurts your credibility. Simply re-titling it as “Personal Projects” will convey what you intend.
Don’t use Goo.gl links on your resume. It’s a better idea to post the actual URLs. And for LinkedIn in particular, you can create a custom URL through LinkedIn, which you should do. And for GitHub and LinkedIn, you could add their logos (you should definitely add their logos to your GitHub.io site).
Did you write your GitHub.io site from scratch? Because it’s not correctly done, and your DOCTYPE, HTML, HEAD, and BODY tags are missing. And because of that, the W3C Validator thinks your page is HTML4 when it’s actually HTML5. Again, you’re hurting your own credibility as a full-stack developer if you can’t properly write either front-end (or back-end for that matter) code.
The source HTML code of your GitHub.io site has lots of oddities. Like “<div class="projects" id="projects">”. Why do you have a class and an ID which are both called projects? That makes no sense, and you should rename one or both of them. There are various other things that make your HTML look like it was done by someone who has incomplete knowledge of HTML—you don’t use a single HTML5-specific tag, you have a lot of unnecessary DIVs (empty DIVs as well), and you have a couple of inline styles. Overall it’s HTML code that simply doesn’t look “maintainable”, and you should absolutely polish it so that a developer looking at it won’t think negatively of your skills.
Your WordPress blog mentions C#, C, TypeScript, and React, none of which are on your resume. How come? That inconsistency unnecessarily calls your technical skills into question.
There are probably more things I’d notice if I spent some more time looking things over, but I think that covers the most important ones.
I’ve tried to implement as many of your suggestions as I have time for right now, so if you could take another look at my site/resume that would be great.
To answer your question in point 11: I was told that if I don’t feel confident enough to work professionally in those languages, which I don’t at the moment, then I should leave them off the resume. Maybe I should mention somewhere that I dabble in them occasionally?
as other have pointed out, it is important not to get discouraged and to acknowledge that finding your first job as a developer or your first internship can be a long hard process. You just need to make sure to take it all in proportion.
Regarding your website and resume, I have several ideas of my own which you can take into account or ignore. It is all up to you.
I would make sure that all or most of your projects are responsive. I have checked several of them on different sized screens and they lose their original layout once you do that.
Regarding your resume, since you have no professional experience yet, I would mention your education as the first thing on your resume, since that is what future employers will want to look at first.
I would also elaborate a bit more on your education. What courses had projects you participated on? What was your grade in them? Try to visualize yourself reading your resume as someone else. See if whatever is written there really reflects who you are and your experience.
Be careful what languages you write as part of your skills. Whatever you put on there, means you know it by heart. Unless you are proficient in all the languages you wrote, I would maybe categorize them.
Remember that code you share is code that reflects upon you. If it isn’t up to standards or is not readable, its is not going to help you. Make sure your code is efficient, readable and uses standard conventions.
Instead of the links section, I would change that section’s title to Other or Hobbies and list any other thing that you do that can benefit the reader. Did you volunteer anywhere? Think of subjects that would separate you as a candidate from others.
One final tip, I, not too long ago, had to search for a new job and I wrote an article about it on Medium. Maybe it would help you out.
Thanks very much for your advice. I appreciate it a lot.
About your sixth tip, I’m kind of coming up blank as I haven’t volunteered anywhere and I don’t have any other relevant hobbies besides coding. The only thing I can think of is that I tutored a classmate. Should I put that?
Good work on the changes to the resume. Some points on the new version of the resume:
You should use standard 1" margins.
You should re-insert your phone number since that’s standard contact info.
Google “resume for college graduate” to get a better idea of how your resume should read. I’m not particularly feeling your Biography there, as it’s not really unique and doesn’t make you stand out. You need to write something that makes you stand out. If you have a favorite technology, or tech stack, maybe that’s something you could mention?
The descriptions for your Personal Projects are written as though you intend them for another developer to read. Instead you should assume the reader has no technical knowledge whatsoever. You should assume that a recruiter or HR manager is reading your resume, which means reducing tech-speak and using wording that average people can understand.
As someone else mentioned, your Education section should be first if you’re a recent graduate. Your years of graduation are also missing from that section.
Your Links section should go at the very top—don’t call it a “Links” section though, just move the links to the top of your resume, below your name, maybe at the same location as your e-mail. Also, you can safely delete the “https://” and “https://www” prefixes as they don’t add anything and just take up space.
Your GitHub site:
Good job on the edits, but your coding style is a bit sloppy. You have closing tags that are indented where the opening tags aren’t, so make sure those vertically align. Basically, just make sure that all of your indents align up with each other. Likewise for your styles.css file, which I noticed has everything indented.
You also now have a lot of errors that the W3C Validator is reporting, so you should go in and fix all of them.
Remember that when it comes to your GitHub site, two main things are important: the UI/UX, and the code (because you never know when a developer at a company you’re applying to will be checking it out). So you should make sure those are absolutely top-quality. That means making every optimization possible, from SEO, to your code styling (for maintenance & readability), to the site performance, etc. (You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your performance.)
I haven’t checked, but you also want to make sure that your GitHub site is cross-browser compatible. Test it on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.
If you don’t already have a self-photo on your LinkedIn profile, you should add one. I’ve heard that not having one is considered a red flag.
Your LinkedIn profile should end up mirroring your resume once everything is updated again.
That basically covers everything I can think of, in terms of what you’re putting out on the Internet. But with your educational background, I’d think you should be able to land an internship pretty easily.
Great job, and your resume is looking a lot better now. I wouldn’t say coursework is needed, unless you had a major project in the last year of your computer programming curriculum, since most curriculums of that type do have a “final project” that’s usually brag-worthy. I’d say 3 projects is enough too.
The last thing I’d suggest is calling your Biography header something else, like maybe Summary Statement, and instead writing that in the first person (without any pronouns), not third person. So it would become:
Junior web developer with an insatiable appetite for learning new technologies and tackling challenging problems. Started coding in 2015 with Codecademy and on a journey to learn, improve, experiment and write efficient, clean code. Favorite tech stack is Vue.js, Materialize.css and Node/Express.
Just keep applying to jobs and I’m sure you’ll land something soon.
Others have given advice on your portfolio, I’ll just add to the discussion of perseverance.
I always like to use one of my favorite jokes. (I’ll use the clean version.):
Two guys are walking down the road. A beautiful walks past in the opposite direction. The first guy asks her, “Hey, wanna go back to my place and have sex?” The girl slaps him across the face. The two guys continue down the road. After a minute the second guy asks, “Man, do you say that to all the girls you meet? Man, you must get slapped a lot.” The first guy replies with a smile, “Yeah, I get slapped a lot, but every now and then …”
It’s a numbers game. Look at it this way. Even if all the applicants are equally matched, if there were 40 other applicants, that still leaves you with only a 2.5% chance of getting that job. Learn to deal with rejection. It’s part of the game. Remember that every time you get rejected is getting you one step closer to that final success. Wear it as a badge of honor. The only people who don’t get rejected are the people that aren’t taking any chances. Go out and get rejected, do it time and time again.
You could also consider asking for feedback. After you’re rejected, you could send a note, “Hey, I respect your decision and wish you and whomever you picked the best of luck. However I am still new to this process and would love any constructive feedback you can offer.”
They may not want to, for either time or legal reasons (the reason for form letter rejections), but I’ve gotten a few tidbits of great feedback by doing this.
While it is probably standard contact info for the majority of people, for some it may bot be viable- no access to a phone, or more likely- the person is deaf or speech disabled so using a phone may be difficult.
Almost all recruiters & HR managers do not have the experience of working with a deaf person who uses a Video Relay Service or a Text Relay Service to communicate. It’s been interesting and challenging to educate while at the same time trying to interact with recruiters (by email or by phone) about the possible job one is interested in.
Just a side note and pointing out something that hiring folks can or should be aware of.
How I know? I’m deaf myself and do tend to sometimes leave off my vrs number.