Why is it so difficult to gain employment in web dev?

I am assuming it is too competitive. When I am competing against 10 or more applicants, I don’t seem to shine above the rest.

Knoxville, TN does not seem to have too many opportunities anyways. When you compete against so many people, it is a losing situation.

I want to add that I have been going at this for 4 years now, and I have yet to land a job.

I am also an active university student. This still has not helped.


Hi @Hjb1694,

I’m going to ask what almost every employer asks: can I see your portfolio?

Let us take a look at it.

FWIW - I’ve been in the industry 13 years, I’ve never been asked to show a portfolio :man_shrugging:


Does that mean you don’t have a portfolio?

Things change on a given industry, especially ours, and employers are more diligent in selecting the best.

In my case, I haven’t seen a job post that asks you to know something and expect your words as truth.

Yep, same. I have had people have a cursory look at my GitHub, but that’s just a load of me playing around with things with nothing really polished. I used to have a portfolio site when I was a designer, not touched it since I moved to programming

That said, it is difficult for a first job to judge knowledge, so it’ll help

Lol I thought I was replying to you in the previous.

Then, have your portfolio up and running. Build something.

Have you tried remote work posting? And freelancing…


Here is a website I developed from scratch for a popular dessert venue in my area:


Yep, done both things. Still never been asked for a portfolio.

But you put it in the resume, though, right?

The software developer’s “getting a job” path (some variation of this is used by a majority of tech companies that aren’t too small):

  1. Applications*
  2. Recruiter phone call
  3. Hiring manager phone call (sometimes skipped)
  4. First technical phone interview
  5. Full “on-site” interview
  • You can skip this part if you have direct access to recruiters or people at the company. This is done by expanding your network. How much time are you spending networking vs sending applications? Almost everyone should be doing more networking. LinkedIn is your friend, especially during this corona stuff.

How to improve your chances of passing each of these steps:

Application step - Improve your resume. Improve the items on your resume. Ask people to review it. Ask for feedback everywhere. Contact recruiters on linkedin and ask if they’d be willing to review your resume for tips. (“Hey, I saw you’re a tech recruiter in my area, I’d love to get feedback on my resume, thanks for your time”). If you try this with 100 recruiters and 2 respond: success.

Recruiter phone call - Usually they’re just checking to make sure it’s not a complete bad fit from the start. Usually not technical, so just be friendly and do some research on the company before hand. They’re really just checking to make sure you’re interested in the actual job, and doing a basic check that you’re not completely full of BS.

Hiring Manager phone call - Same as recruiter, but probably more in depth and detailed on some of the technical questions. Might also probe into your relationships with teammates. How do you resolve technical disagreements, etc. This step happens sometimes, sometimes not. Same as the previous - be ready with answers in the form of good stories to behavioral questions.

Technical Phone Interview - If you’re getting stuck here, you’re either failing at behavioral questions or coding exercises. For behavioral: Practicing explaining things with stories from your past, rather than speaking in hypotheticals. And really do practice. Look up the STAR framework, leetcode has a nice tutorial on it (something like “master the behavioral interview”).
For the technical part - practice doing more interview-style coding questions, like leetcode.

On-site Interview - Good job getting here! When I was at amazon the state were 1 in 4 would get an offer after this.

Practice is similar to phone interview, but you’ll be either coding on a whiteboard or borrowing a laptop (or over zoom these days). Either way - practice. Practice. More practice.

Same for behavioral - practice the answers to behavioral questions. It’s hard to answer “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker, and what was the outcome?” if you’ve never thought about it.

To get interviews though, the biggest advice is network.


Correct. I don’t have a portfolio.

The problem is that in reality - if you really wanted to see “my portfolio” you’d have to convince some very big companies with expensive lawyers to show you their code because they own it lol.

Consider a backend dev - what’s their portfolio look like?

And even for frontend devs, they don’t spend all day writing html/css and gluing it together.

Here’s an example from my career:
I worked on groupon’s getaways/travel page (or what’s left of it after covid lol). That’s easy and publicly viewable, so I can show employers this as one of my “projects”. The real issue is that html/css - the visual part - isn’t much of a story. The interesting parts have to be discussed: The plumbing for tracking user behavior, cache-ing layer(s), latency improvements, how to decide how many servers to run our code on, logging and alerting systems, etc). Talking about the process of eliminating 20 ms of page load time is way more interesting than showing how the html/css was glued together with javascript.

If I were hiring a designer, I would ask to see samples of what they’ve designed - if they even still have access to it - and are allowed to share it. A lot of us have signed NDAs - and like I mentioned, do not own the code. In fact, you most likely lose access to it when you leave a company and it’s illegal to take copies.

Since I became a manager, I can recall exactly one person who had a portfolio (of sorts). It was nice and I appreciated it, but the conversations that spawned from that portfolio is what I care about. And whether I can see your work or not, it’s easy enough to ask probing questions to determine if someone actually struggled at building this, or copy/pasted a bunch of stackoverflow code to make it work.

So, short answer: I do not have a portfolio. But I have a good set of stories and experiences to pull on to discuss depending on where the interview questions lead.


Most of my experience is in enterprise too, there’s no code I can show, every interviewer knows it, and I’ve never shown a portfolio because I don’t have one either. I’ve always just been asked to talk about my projects, which is a better way to gauge someone’s skills than just seeing their final output, since that way you get more insights into architectural knowledge, as well process and practices. To say nothing of verbal communication skills.

If I was hiring a front-end developer, I’d want to at least see one or two of the sites they built, so there’s a lot of emphasis on portfolios here on FCC. And hey, if they have code on github, might be worth at least a glance to make sure it’s not something you’d post to codinghorror.

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Sure, but that’s for people who have years of experience and with a single call for the interview and a couple of questions, they can tell.

If you say you’ve worked for Amazon, or any other big tech company as a Senior Software Engineer. They won’t even bother to ask you for a portfolio.

A single friendly conversation about the projects you’ve worked on will be enough to tell. And a reference call to your previous boss, maybe.

But for people like me, or him, who have 0 professional experience, and like me who didn’t study CS, oh they are! Wait for it.

I have a friend who works at Walmart as a Senior earning 120K a year, and he gets offers all the time without even him sending his résumé with more money than that.

He rejects them, of course, because he’s fine with that job and wouldn’t want to move to another state, and all.

He hasn’t shown a portfolio in years!

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its not that complicated.

a few years ago: there was big demand
nowadays: there is way less demand.

you can show me numbers, bout being more vacancies or not, i dont care. i’ve seen and heard enough throug the years, and there is just less demand now, then there was 5 years ago.

5y’s ago: document.getElementById and you had a job, nice if you ever heard about react.
now: AT THE LEAST know sql, php, node and front-end, nice if you have exp with aws.


I happen to disagree just a little with you. I don’t think there’s less demand. Maybe with the covid but for that there’s less demand even in movie theater goers.

As for the document.get I don’t know if that’s true. All the people I know that got jobs 4 or 5 Ys ago knew their craft.

And for the technologies, if you’re just applying to front end as a junior, there’s only a few you may have to know:


That’s it.

Now, having said that, some companies don’t know how to write a job posting and call a junior developer and post for a senior.

Go job hunting. Send your resume to 100 companies in a month. Go remote.

OK, apologies for a super long reply here, but I just felt I had to chime in.

BTW, Nice site - I just plugged it to my brother and wife and 2 kids who are in the process of moving to Knoxville. I’m sure they can get a kick out of Sno-Cream. Just curious, have you thought of adding prices to the menu? Also, another thing you could customize on the website is bringing more attention to their contact information - like if customers can order for curbside pickup or something since COVID19 pandemic is going on. But the site isn’t bad, it’s got potential, good job.

So I’m going to step in and reiterate what @germanbobadilla has been saying — You need a portfolio site. Think of it more as your own living document of proof that you are able to create websites to people. If you’re a backend developer, you probably don’t need one – but if you’re on freeCodeCamp - chances are you want to be a Web Developer. You need one. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not going to get you the job. But it is one more piece of your branding arsenal to show hiring managers that you actually are someone who takes his/her career seriously.

I’m sorry to say it, but times are tough these days - when times are tough, you see less junior developer roles on job boards. BTW, don’t call yourself a junior developer. Just call yourself a developer. Wait until someone else calls you a senior developer to say you are one.

So, the way to compensate for that is to build, build, build. Or if you want to create a blog where you write about the technology/libraries/techniques, etc. you are learning, it shows other people your passion, demonstrates your ability to communicate technical concepts, and is fodder for other people to possibly learn too! Who knows, maybe it will go click-viral and end up on hackernews?

This is advice that I’ve received from many of my sources - whether from Quincy Larson himself, John Sonmez of SimpleProgrammer, Wes Bos, Brad Hussey, the list goes on… You have to advertise that you know something about being a developer. And yes, it is a competitive industry. Anywhere money is on the line, it will be competitive. And imposter’s syndrome is real too. I’ve been in the ‘biz’ for a couple years now and always feel like I’m the dumbest one on the team and sweat bullets to finish my tasks by the end of the sprint. Sometimes they take longer. But I don’t give up.

By the way, I should mention that I started out with FreeCodeCamp, CodeSchool, and I’ve also taken a part-time 4 month course in Full Stack Javascript at General Assembly. I am a professional React developer now, but it took me 3 years from when I decided I wanted to find a developer role until I found my first dev job. And I was very lucky, to have someone hire a noob developer at the ripe old age of 35, but it was my passion and my will to learn and my ability to communicate my progressions to that point that made the difference.

I also had started developing a website for an internal prospective tool where I was working at the time, and showed it to my boss when they just kept giving me mundane tasks. YMMV, and you definitely have to read the room and atmosphere as to whether that is an acceptable practice in your workplace if you hold a current job. But my point is - why did you start learning how to become a developer? Then as the shoe company says, Just Do It.

It is a numbers game, yes. If you just send out 100 resumes, a significantly less portion of them will return and ask for interviews. Of those interviews, even less will progress you to the point of making an offer. But it only takes one yes to have that first dev job on your resume. And yes, you do need to take a multi-tiered approach. Network. Go to meetups, or these days, attend them virtually… A bit harder, yes, but still, it shows that you are interested. Ask questions when people open up Q&A on these meetups or webinars. Chances are, not only do you get your question answered, but someone else may learn something from the answer as well. If you can, participate in (virtual) hackathons. If you’re a student, Major League Hackathon is definitely something to check out.

Brush up on your algorithms and data structures. FCC is a good introduction to some of them, but definitely try out HackerRank.com or LeetCode.com or Exercism.io or Hyperskill.com. Pramp.com is also a good website for practicing code interviews. Not an endorsement in saying that anyone of them is the better one - although I have had a couple technical job tests from HackerRank that I wasn’t prepared for. But you have to do your due diligence in being prepared for them. Doesn’t mean you need to ace them, but show the effort…

Now I’ve also spent money on a resume service that has enhanced how my resume reads. It was $150 of well spent money. Maybe you don’t need to do that. I was a career switcher, and was looking for every leg up I could get to transition for my first dev job.

Now once you’ve got that first job, that does not mean that you’re done. My job is hard. I don’t think I would be paid as much as I do if it weren’t. So I have to continue learning, learning new languages, new libraries, new products, testing out my theories by building out new projects. Always have a side project. It doesn’t have to be something that you complete, but you get way more bonus points if you can. I, however, know that I struggle with that myself as well.

I am not a 10x developer, either. I’m lucky if I am a 1x developer. But I am someone who said ‘I am going to do this’ and kept determined in my practicing and efforts to find a developer job. It is one of the things I am most proud of. If you do too, eventually, you will have one. Then, you have to really start being smart about the jobs you want to take.
And my portfolio is out of date too. But at least it is up, and people can see it. When I am ready to transform it to the next step, I will. But I have other initiatives right now.

My point is, Yes, getting a developer job is hard. Being a developer is hard. Competing against other developers is hard. But they are not without their rewards and perks.

I could go on, but I don’t want to anymore. Good luck!


@Hjb1694 Also, have you looked at developer or engineer positions in Oak Ridge, TN?
I know that is an area that I’ve been watching because they tend to have software engineering positions.

Another thing I do is check out the job position skills requirements. How many of them do you have? Which ones are you working towards?

@jefejeff and @chuckadams basically covered everything I’d have said in detail, but personally, nope, my CV is just contact details + work experience.

Re frontend, I’ve mostly worked frontend and have never been asked for a portfolio: the way @jefejeff describes tallies with my experience. I describe what I’ve done, then I talk about it in an interview, and if it’s a public site, the interviewer can see it. Also it’s normally quite specific pieces of functionality: I’d have worked on something with a load of other developers.

Obviously this is not viable if someone does not have work experience, but bear in mind that in that case much less is expected anyway



But what about other professions. I imagine that other professionals carry or own something that is related to their professions.

A carpenter might have equipment at home. The same for a plumber. Basically, all professionals that create art, craftsmanship, or make a living by creating something, must have something to showcase to future clients.

Say a carpenter wants to convince a household to hire him to craft furnitures. Or a painter to paint pictures. They must have something to show off.

No different from a web developer. And it doesn’t have to be a portfolio. You can create something that is yours. Something that you could continue building even if you get the job. Something that excites you, about a hobby, or whatever.

You can say, hey, I don’t have a portfolio, but I have this website that gets 100 visits a day. Here’s my data.

Eventually, that could even become a source of income.

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