If you have done any research into getting a job as a self taught developer then you will no doubt have ready many times that you should be applying to jobs way before you are ready, which for many of us (myself included) is not that easy to understand.
The majority of us hate the thought of rejection and failure, but this is not a reason to put us off doing something, so I am going to reiterate that advice, start applying to jobs long before you think you are ready because it is very likely that you will never feel ready.
Networking is Key
This blog has always had a slight networking focus, so I will start there. Basically, as I have said many times the best thing you can do is make and utilize connections, getting a referral for a position is so much better than just clicking apply on indeed. Having the hiring manager or other employees know a little about you in advance is great, they're already looking and thinking about you in a positive light, which will help you stand out above the crowd.
I have already experienced this, I was referred to a position, did a technical test and landed an interview, at the time I doubt very much that I would have landed the interview without the referral, so, yeah, get out there, do some mingling and see where it takes you.
Don't Worry About the Job Requirements
I almost didn't put this one in because it seems so obvious to me, but I still see a lot of posts on Reddit about it and I was talking to a friend about this the other day, so obviously I was wrong and people still do worry about this.
Basically, when you see a job ad, and you notice these guys are asking for a whole host of skills and experience, DON't WORRY, this is almost certainly them describing their perfect candidate, which they will most likely never get.
Companies also use these types of descriptions to weed out people who don't think they're good enough, please, don't let that be you. Take a look at the company, the description and the salary, if the company seems a good fit for you, you have some of the required skills and the salary is not super high (assuming this is early in your career) then go ahead and apply - with confidence
When to Start Applying
This is tough to answer, as I said, we will likely never feel ready, so waiting until then is out. Should you wait a certain amount of time? 3 months,6 months, 12 months even? Time is probably not the best guage as we all learn at a different pace and someone studying 40 hours per week for 3 months is completely different than someone studying 10 hours per week for the same three months.
If not time then what? Well, I would just say when you start to think you are close you should be applying, it took me being referred for a position before I realised that I should be applying. If someone is out there, ready to put their name on the line and suggest me for a job then I should have been looking and applying anyway.
IMO, if you have the basics down, can have a conversation about the stack you are working with and maybe have a side project or two you should definitely be applying. the worst thing that happens is... you are where you are now, so it is a no brainer.
What you Can Learn from Applying to Jobs
Another thing people often overlook is there is a lot to be learned from applying to jobs which is just another reason that you should be applying early.
- if you get no callbacks then you know your CV needs work
- if you get some call backs, but nothing further you will get an idea of the specifics companies are looking for in your region, so you can now go work on that.
- if you get a lot of interviews then you can feel stupid for not applying sooner, but also feel awesome for getting said interviews 😄
- if those interviews are all rejections then you know your CV/cover letter game is on point, you will learn a lot from each interview and you are very close to a job.
Again, there are no negatives here, only opportunities, so just start throwing your hat in the ring, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
What to Do Before Applying
One last word, but before you do start applying to everything in sight, do your prep work first, make every application count. What I mean by this is do some research on each company you are applying to, make your cover letter personal to them, make sure that it could not be a copy/paste job, this is super important. Regarding CV, this mostly won't change, but don't be afraid to make small job specific edits. For example you may want to highlight certain aspects of your previous roles more than you normally would if that experience aligns with what this job is wanting.
Here is a a little checklist before applying:
- rework CV to match your current skills/experience.
- make a list of jobs you want to apply to.
- research companies
- write VERY specific cover letter
- make small edits to your CV if needed based on job description
That is pretty much it, if you follow the advice laid out here I'm sure you will have great results, please come back and let me know how you get on or don't be afraid to reach out if you have anymore questions.