You've finished coding school — what's next? Take these steps to land a job in web development.
If you're fresh out of coding school — whether that's CodeAcademy, Lambda School, or another online program — here's some good news: Despite high unemployment rates across the country, web developer jobs are still in demand. And this isn't a low-paying gig, either. On average, web developers in the U.S. make more than $75,000 a year.
All you've got to do is find and land the job — simple, right? Not always, especially if you don't have any formal experience. Not to worry, though; there are simple steps you can take to ensure you land an entry-level programmer job.
How to “crack the code” and land a job in web development
You've worked hard to complete coding school, so don't let your resume hold you back. Complete these steps to level up your chances of getting a job as a web developer:
1. Beat the resume bots
Being web-savvy and all, you might have heard of resume bots — more technically known as applicant tracking systems (ATS). This is a type of software recruiters and employers use to sort, scan, and rank job applications based on specific algorithms meant to toss aside those candidates who don't make the cut.
This software is great for larger companies, especially if they receive hundreds of job applications. But it's tricky for job applicants, because they may be passed over — even if they're a great fit. That's why it's important to do everything you can to make sure your programmer resume can beat the bots.
Here are the basic parameters you should follow to make sure your entry level programmer resume passes through the ATS:
Keep it simple: Avoid intricate templates, headers and footers, and graphics and charts. The bots often have a difficult time “translating” these, so it's best to stick to text. If you want to check your resume's readability, save it as a plain text file and see what it looks like.
Optimize your resume with keywords: The ATS can be programmed to look for specific keywords, and these tend to be the hard and soft skills required for the job. There's no hack to determine exactly what keywords you should include in your programmer resume, but the key is to read the job description thoroughly and make sure you're including all the big requirements and qualifications, if applicable. For instance, if a job requires you to know multiple coding and programming languages and you fit the bill, make sure to include those languages in your resume. Your resume headline or detailed skills section are both great places to do this.
Save your programming resume as a .doc or .docx: Avoid uploading a PDF since they may not be compatible with some software programs unless it specifically says PDFs are acceptable.
Still have questions? Check out this guide to writing a resume.
2. Highlight your transferable skills
Even if you don't have a ton of hands-on experience to show off, it's important to highlight your transferable skills when changing careers. These are skills that can be transferred from past experiences to present and future opportunities.
Here's an example: Say you developed time-management skills through a volunteer opportunity. These skills can then be transferred to a new position as a web developer. Also think about the technical skills you've gained from academic experiences, clubs, organizations, and even hobbies.
Since you're seeking a job in coding — which requires close attention to data and information — consider any programming skills that highlight your ability to be detail-oriented and work those experiences into your resume, highlighting your potential in the field.
3. Include a link to GitHub
Traditionally, your programmer resume should link to your own personal website or your LinkedIn profile. You can still do this, but as a coder, you might also want to include a link to your GitHub, as long as you're active on it. You'll want to make sure to publish code that showcases your knowledge; this is a great way to provide employers and hiring managers with evidence of your skills when you don't have substantial job experience.
You can link your LinkedIn profile in the header of your resume, but you may want to link your GitHub in your programmer resume skills section since it requires specific skills that the employer may value. You could also highlight specific open-source projects, linking to your GitHub profile in the process.
If you want to showcase additional personal projects and examples of your work outside of GitHub, you could also build your own website. This doesn't have to be super complex — simple “About Me,” “Projects,” and “Contact” pages will work!
4. Lean on certifications and skill assessments
There's a lot of debate about whether or not you should list a self-taught course like CodeAcademy on your entry-level programmer resume.
On one hand, it can show you're self-motivated and have a good grasp of the fundamentals of coding. It can be a good resource if you're just getting started. On the other hand, many pros believe these types of programming language courses don't dive deep enough, so they're not worth mentioning. To them, it's basically the equivalent of mentioning Math 101 on your resume.
Whether or not you include these courses is up to you, but one of the best things you can do to really show off your skills is to get a certification. A certification basically just tells an employer, “ I've got the skills for this, and here's proof.” On your resume, you can highlight your certifications in your professional summary, or you can create a dedicated certification section.
In addition to getting certifications, you can also showcase your know-how on LinkedIn with its skill assessments, which tells employers, “I passed this test, and I know how to do this stuff!”
To find these assessments, go to your LinkedIn profile and scroll down to your skills section. Find “Take Skill Quiz,” and then choose which programming skills you want to test from Java to Python to Swift. This is a true quiz, so you have to complete it in one sitting. If you pass, you'll get a badge for your profile. If you don't, you'll have to wait three months before trying again.
5. Get familiar with whiteboard coding interviews
As you beef up your programmer resume template and LinkedIn profile and start applying for jobs, it's important to start preparing for the interview.
It's worth noting that coding job interviews can look a little different than a traditional interview. Again, because this is such a technical job, the employer will want you to see evidence of your skills, so you could be asked to solve what's called “whiteboard coding problems.” This is where you'll be asked to physically solve a coding problem on a whiteboard or piece of paper.
This is can be quite intimidating, but that's why it's important to practice before the interview. There are a ton of resources online to help you better understand whiteboard coding interviews. For instance, the CEO and co-founder of Fullstack Academy put together a six-step process to help.
There's also a popular book called “Cracking the Coding Interview” by software engineer Gayle Laakmann McDowell. In it, she presents 189 programming questions (beginner to advance) and walks you through exactly how to solve and answer them.
By taking the time to prepare for these types of interviews in advance, you'll feel less anxious on the big day.
Not sure your programmer resume format has “cracked the code”? Get a free resume review to see if your resume will beat the resume bots.