In response to: “What am I doing wrong. Why am I not getting interviews?”
I have been working as a web developer for over 10 years now and have met some very intelligent developers, some of whom never even graduated high school. From my experience, a senior level developer and occasional hiring manager, work experience matters because some programmers are very difficult to work with. There are a few main things to focus on outside of your superb programming skills: Prove your worth, Stand out from the crowd, Personality, Work experience
I have been noticing more and more how there are a lot of developers out there burning bridges and making it increasingly difficult for young, fresh developers to start their own careers. Clients have told me time and again that their developer fell off the map, didn’t finish the project and ran, is a huge jerk, etc. Some developers ‘feel’ as though they are right all of time, that they know it all or maybe even just get in over their heads on a project too large for them. It only takes one bad relationship with a developer for a company to become skeptical of hiring another one. Its a trust issue. That is where you can shine. Prove that you are not like that other guy/girl and are capable of finishing their project professionally and in a timely manner. It should reflect in your resume/portfolio as well.
Personality goes a long way!! You may be the smartest, craftiest programming wiz out there but if you are not also friendly and enjoyable to be around, no one is going to want to work with you. Let’s face it, most companies hire developers because we have a skillset that they either don’t know enough about or would prefer to hire a professional to take care of for them. That does NOT necessarily mean that an employer is willing to put up with just anyone to get the job done. Just like with every other position at the company, the employer expects professionalism, coworker cohesion and expertise from the new web developer.
Lack of work experience may be the reason more companies aren’t beating down your door. Did you collaborate with anyone on those projects in your resume? if so, add some details about that relationship. If you have never worked as a developer for another company, well then you may have to add your job working at the mall or the super market to show that you can get up and clock in everyday. Find a way to relate it to the job. (Cashier experience === ‘Quick learner’, ‘you work well with others’, can master new software’, ‘are responsible’ ) and most importantly you can take orders and make decisions on your own.
You may want to repackage yourself as a fun, energetic professional with limited but beneficial work experience, who knows how to get the job done in a timely manner and can play well with others. That is the candidate I choose every time when hiring a new employee.