The struggle to find a first job during COVID is real

Hi everyone, I was wondering how everyone is doing in their job search right now with COVID and if anyone can give any advice on how to land that first job? I started my job search in March and have not been successful in finding anything so I’m wondering if I am doing anything wrong. I’ve been applying to Front End jobs but most of them want Wordpress experience, should I learn some wordpress? Or learn a bit of back end? AHH! anyways any help is greatly appreciated.

And if anyone has any success stories during the pandemic that would be nice to hear. Hopefully others can also find inspiration and advice.

Here’s my portfolio as well maybe you guys can give some pointers on what I’m doing wrong in there too.

Portfolio
Thanks!

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Yeah, it’s tough to get that first job under normal circumstances. Under Covid, I imagine that a lot of places are looking for people to start out working remote and transition to the office once the craziness ends. That makes it difficult because most places don’t want to hire someone inexperienced for a remote position.

I’ve been applying to Front End jobs but most of them want Wordpress experience, should I learn some wordpress?

I find that surprising. To me, Wordpress is another kettle of fish, often working off of templates, but there may be some more creative jobs creating or adapting them. But that is mostly my perception, not my experience. Some of those jobs might also be “we don’t use WP, but it might be relevant experience”. I don’t know - mostly I’m looking at React jobs so I don’t see WP pop up that much.

Or learn a bit of back end?

Everything you learn will help you. Nowadays, it’s expected that even a f/e dev will have some b/e. I really didn’t understand APIs until I built some of my own. This may not help much in the short term, but it would be a definite help long term.

At the risk of another shameless plug, I once wrote up a doc with some advice on getting the first job. But it’s pre-Covid.

You didn’t provide the link to your portfolio. Seeing your resume would be good too.

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Oh whoops. Forgot to post it.
Portfolio site

‘Front-End’ really has a loose meaning. It can mean using, for the most part, only HTML, CSS and some scripting language like JavaScript or PHP, and focusing on the browser side of things. Every working developer I know in what’s considered a front-end role is still what most people think of as a ‘full-stack’ developer. Think of it this way, your company wants you to build a site for one of its products or services. Most of the pages are static, but there are a few that require data-fetching/data-posting ability, so you end up needing to create a simple API and hook it up to a database. If the serious back-end developers are working on other, bigger projects, you might have to build and deploy that whole site yourself, depending on the level at which dev-ops plays a role in what happens at your company.

Solid-looking portfolio page, by the way.

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Hey, as recent beginner, I would like to know how much can you earn as a junior front end developer knowing just HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Could you tell me? It can be the worst case scenario low paying job, by the way, just wanna have some references!

Depends on location. I’ve seen jobs that pay as low as $25,000 US per year here in Tokyo, which is not a cheap place to live. Seems in the US, junior jobs are mostly available at decent-sized companies where they’re willing to invest time and money in you. Not easy to get those jobs, though. Mostly, what I’ve seen (my experience as well) are people who work hard learning and building projects for 1.5-2 years until they’re definitely beyond junior level in terms of basic web-dev skills, get a job with a smallish company at a low salary (30-35,000 USD per year), work for a year or two and move on to bigger and better things. Still need to keep learning and building your portfolio in your free time, though.

Oh wow I would have thought Tokyo would pay better. I’m in Los Angeles and it’s very competitive. I see a lot of demand but more for seniors etc. What do you guys think about freelancing?

Oh man I just saw your doc! Super informative, actually one of the best written articles on getting prepared I’ve read! Thanks

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Hey there. @bradtaniguchi has shown me your thread and I’m glad to share my experience job hunting during this difficult time. A bit about me: I’m a fully self-taught developer and I started my coding journey on July 2018. I used MEAN stack + TypeScript to build most of my portfolio projects. I began my job search in June 2020 and accepted an offer on July 2020.

First of all, nice portfolio! I like the projects you showcased but I would focus more on the original ones you have created (not based on a tutorial.) I really like your Shopify project. Our resumes are structured quite similar so I believe you’re also on the right track for that.

Now regarding the job hunt… My biggest tip is to apply to a lot of jobs - even senior ones. Just note it somewhere that you’re a junior and are wondering if they can create a spot for you if they don’t have one already. (Two companies that offered me a job were looking for both seniors and juniors. The job posts didn’t specify the levels but did put some ‘requirements’ of experience.) If you don’t completely meet the tech stack of the job but you believe you can learn it - apply! A job isn’t in your state or somewhere you can move to - assume it can be remote and apply! Find out the details later. I applied to over 360 jobs using this method. I recorded them all on a Google sheets file and tracked my progress. Over 30% was rejected (that I know of.) Didn’t have much traction until 3 weeks later. But luckily, that was the only traction I needed.

If you have already been applying nonstop to over hundreds of jobs and couldn’t get any hits - I would start improving the portfolio. Perhaps make another project and make it very detailed. I would also start networking harder on Twitter. #100DaysOfCode is very active. Although I’m not sure if my Twitter helped in any way, I don’t think it hurts. (Maybe someone put in a good word for me since that traction I got - the emails came all in the same week, who knows?)

Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble. I’m in the process of writing a blog post that details my journey so hopefully that will be more structured. I’ll be sharing it with this forum eventually.

I hope this helps. Good luck to you. It might be more difficult to find a job at this time but just keep applying. You just need one to give you a shot. :relaxed:

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I don’t know if this can help you, but I applied to the Microverse Bootcamp, the selections are based on FreeCodeCamp projects and it’s free until you land a job paid more than 1500$/months, they help you finding a job and preparing the interviews. Basically they teach you how to do remote work, which might seem easy, but it adds extra tasks, like learning to use Slack and Zoom, and it’s not easy to establish working relations and team mindset with people on the other side of the globe, so it’s a nice challenge, but probably that’s the post-covid future from now on, and we are lucky to be in this field.

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Wow that’s super inspiring. Yes, I’m trying to build more websites to show my web design chops etc… I’m just going to keep trying everywhere and see what bites lol

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Oh cool I’m going to check it out. Not sure how to get started in freelancing so this sounds like a good resource. Thanks!

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Most tech companies should do a virtual interview. I mean even my warehouse laborer job did so… And also build a portfolio that you can share via skype or zoom or any other program. I have friends self taught in java and C# and python getting jobs after 4 applications through the zoom app. But they also had a portfolio built and ready for that interview…

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I’ll just add my 2 cents, but as a hiring manager, not necessarily in tech. Consider the relative performance of different industries and their openness to remote work arrangements. I can say for the moment that Finance, particularly my specific field has been resilient, although experiences vary (I don’t write commercial real estate loans). Alot of major finance firms are also behind the curve in terms of UX, resiliency, operational digitalization.

I’d also echo the comments on location location location. One of the keys to my career success has been mobility and flexibility. It’s not ideal to move half way around the world, but if its a choice between a job or a promotion tomorrow or waiting 5 years with no guarantee where you are at… Tokyo is one of our most expensive salary locations so I was surprised by some of the above comments, but its also not where we typically put tech staff (Singapore / India or East Coast of the US).

None of that is too specific to front end web design…but we do have a lot of initiatives around UX and rebuilding our legacy inhouse platforms, and the other big spend is rebuilding the back end infrastructure that supports it (so rewriting ALOT of legacy code onto modern platforms). I’m more on the business side myself, so front end designers is a bit off topic, but there remains a tremendous opportunity for ‘business’ orientated tech folks, or ‘tech’ orientated business folks to come into processes that have remained largely untouched for 20+ years and work some 21st magic (data analytics, modern CRM systems, leverage APIs for operational automation / efficiency).

Last bit of advice would be the traditional networking comments. It’s rare when I get a headcount approved and when I do its a precious commodity. I often already know who I want to hire, or already have a very clear vision of the type of candidate I need to complement the team. It’s hard for a street candidate to have a chance to understand that dynamic and make a convincing argument in an hour interview if you haven’t prepared in advance in other ways. Best of luck!

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