What's the secret to getting your first dev job w/ no degree or experience?

Is the secret to just have a good resume/portfolio and then keep doing a bajillion applications (even when you don’t feel qualified for the jobs) until you hear back from one? Do you just persist until someone contacts you back?

How do you avoid getting discouraged?
How do you prevent overwhelm because there are still so many things to learn even after you have built your own projects, and you never feel qualified enough?
And what do you do about imposter syndrome when you are applying for jobs?

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There’s a lot of ways to increase your chances during the job search. The main focus overall however is asking yourself how can I stand out?

For entry level jobs competition is fierce, so standing out for a job is paramount for having any kind of chance at all. If your resume and portfolio look the same as everyone else’s you wont get the job, no matter how many jobs you apply to as other people with the same resume and portfolio will do the same.

Being able to stand out can be anything, from a networking opportunity, past experiences, to even just your background and location relative to a job.

I usually say applying to jobs is its own skill, as you’re essentially selling yourself. So yes improving your skills, resume and portfolio can help you, but so can investing time in your “pitch” and your prospective companies you’re applying to. If you’re sending the exact same contents to every job, you might be missing out on some of that “pitch specific” approaches.

Generally you only need to get a job once, you also should be getting feedback throughout all the jobs your applying to, so you should get a better understanding if your close and need to tweak your approach, or if your ways off and need to come back to the job-game with a little more experience in key areas.

You can get this feeling without a job, or with a job years down the line. There’s always more things to learn, and more things to do. In some ways it can help drive you to do better, greater things, it can also feel daunting and “overwhelming”.

I personally usually just put my head down and pick something up. There won’t be a day when I suddenly know everything, rather every day I try to learn something. I find it less overwhelming if it’s seen as a journey to enjoy, rather than a marathon to finish.

The “objectiveness” of the situation of job searching is as plain as:
You should know what you know, and see what they seek. From there you need to match what you know with what they seek as best as possible.

You might not feel qualified, or “an imposture”, for a job, but how you feel about it doesn’t change the objective fact you want the job, and may or may not have the experience required for it.
If you feel like your missing key attributes the job is asking for, you will have much worse chances when applying. How you feel about it doesn’t change how the company will receive your resume. Because of this, the energy you have should go into improving the objective nature of the problem, not so much on the subjective idea that you might not feel good enough.
Your resume, background, experience and “pitch” approach to a company should speak for itself. If it works great! If it doesn’t, then gather feedback on why, and improve.

An “Impostor syndrome” feeling is nearly impossible to get away from during a job search, as most of the time you’re only searching as you don’t have the job, so by this nature you’re aren’t necessarily an impostor, as that implies you have what you want, but don’t feel qualified for it. In a job search scenario you don’t have what you want, and might not feel qualified for it.

The best you can do is put your head down and get to the task at hand and put your energy into it.

Good luck, keep learning, keep building :+1:


You left out networking. I hate to say it, but lots of developers get jobs just by knowing people.

I’m not saying it’s all nepotism. Just knowing the person you are hiring or having other people you trust to vouch for the person and so on. Or maybe you have good soft skills, those are much harder to sell on paper than in person. It is also harder to see the potential in a person without meeting them.


There are really only two pieces of advice that I’d say to anyone about job hunting:

  1. Yes you do need to have persistence and not give up. Having persistence is key to a lot of things.
  2. But you don’t need to apply to a ton of jobs either. The common definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results - and if this is what you’re doing, then you need to adopt a different strategy. Don’t do what you think everyone else is doing, and come up with a plan that you’ve spent some time to think about.

Thank you for the encouragement! I’m going to DO IT!

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Thank you for the response and helpful links! I’ll check this out!

Hmm. I will give this some thought. Thank you.

I’m in the same situation as you. I’ve been trying to get other people to collaborate with and contribute to each other’s repos. And anything else that would help me with networking and finding ANY kind of web-related job.

Where are you located? I’m on the East Coast of the US.

Yes! This!

I didn’t notice your response before I posted but this is very well said.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a secret but by far the most underrated strategy is to actually network.

The more people you know in the industry and the stronger those relationships are the more likely you will see opportunities come your way that just don’t for other people.

Get out and meet people in the industry and participate in the community as much as you can. I’ve given this advice to so many newcomers and they always put the networking piece off until they feel “ready”. Wana know the biggest reason newcomers get hired? Passion. Best way to show that passion is by being active in various communities over long periods of time.

Check for local meetups to attend, a lot of them are virtual now so you can redefine “local” to a geography that makes sense to you. Go to the same meetups often enough and you’ll start to meet people who you get along with and maybe make a real connection with.

Also worth looking into conferences too. Some smaller conferences are very affordable or even free. A lot of the bigger ones are free now too because of covid. Attending an in-person conference can be intimidating alone but maybe through the local meetups you meet a friend who you can attend with. Conferences are amazing places to meet new people.

Other ways you can grow your network is by being active in forums like this one, or on subreddits. Participate in online hackathons, or the #100DaysOfCode challenge on Twitter or the freeCodeCamp discord. Actively share what you’re learning or what you’re building in these online communities and through social media.

There’s a saying that goes, “Luck is just when preparation and opportunity meet”.

I truly believe in that, but I think people interpret it as, all you have to do to succeed is keep learning – becoming more prepared. But the other side of that is that you also have to seek out opportunities too.

Create an environment around yourself that includes a lot of opportunities. The more people that you know who are in alignment with your goals the more opportunities will come to you. And some of those opportunities, you may already be ready for today :slight_smile:

Oh and one final note. Yes just applying to a lot of jobs and persisting at that while you continue to learn and build things is a good idea. The job hunt in and of itself can be a good way to expand your network too. It’s tough in the beginning to get any response from companies but the rare time that you do is a great opportunity to get to know someone a little (assuming you get on a call or an interview with the person). At the very least you might have someone that you can shoot an email off to a few months down the road to check-in on their hiring situation and ask if any new opportunities came up.


I move around, but I’m currently in the Midwest.

Thank you so much for this thoughtful response. I really like what you said, the examples you gave, etc. and I will take it into account.

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Well, you are an hour or more ahead of me. Are you in Central or Mountain time? I’ve been looking for people to collaborate with but I can’t find anyone who is interested. I was hoping to have chats on Discord and to contribute to each other’s repos, etc. Let me know if you are interested in something like that, or if not I wish you luck in landing a job!

I am honestly in the same boat as you are. I have some Java experience from college, but that’s been a while. I’ve been diving into learning HTML/CSS and other front-end dev skills to be able to switch careers and it has definitely been daunting. I don’t really have much advice because I am going through the same things trying to find a job when I have no formal work experience. But the advice on here has been great. Networking is an absolute as well as trying to build a portfolio to showcase those skills you’ve been working hard on developing.

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