Why No One Is Hiring You

Why No One Is Hiring You

I want to talk about a different topic this time around. Not too different, but it's still very important. I say this because it applies to pretty much every aspiring developer in the world. And what we'll be talking about is why no one is hiring you as a web developer. Because if you were anything like me, you probably applied to every job opening you could find but still no response. It's discouraging I know.

I've known people who have constantly applied to jobs for the last 2 years and still couldn't get past the final interview. That's why I'm writing this to help you out. Personally, I got very lucky because I got my first job in 3 months. And even when I was laid off from my second job, I was able to get a new job in just 4 days. I got 2 job offers because first, I was good at networking and secondly, I applied to job openings like crazy (as an experienced dev).

So I want to talk about 5 reasons why no one is hiring you and how we can fix it. Let's get started.

1 You haven't interviewed enough.

This first one is actually very straightforward. When it comes to getting a developer job, or any job in general for that matter, you have to go through an interview. So many people have messaged me on Instagram asking why they bombed their first interview. And my response to those messages is very simple: I tell them it's their first interview. That’s normal and expected.

You're not going to get a job as a web developer at your first interview. That's not normal. I mean sure, it happened to me but that's not normal either. It's very difficult to land a job on your first try.. I can tell you all this: when I was still working at my first company I kept going to interviews with other companies. I did this because I wanted to see first how much I've improved and see how much other companies value me.

I honestly remember all of my interviews. I would have back-to-back interviews and bomb each of them every single time. That's why I was so shocked I landed a job as a web developer on my first try, especially when it took me 2 years to be efficient in JavaScript. But after going through 7 and maybe even 10 interviews that's when I started to become comfortable because I knew what to expect. I remember answering questions the wrong way because they weren't technically related.

But because I didn't answer them correctly the first time, when they ask me those questions again I know exactly how to answer them. So even if you've bombed a lot of interviews don't let it discourage you. Now this might sound dumb but your goal should be to bomb as many interviews as possible. Because it's through that experience that you get better. It's crazy, I know. But trust me, it works.

2 You don't have enough projects or the only projects you have are from tutorials.

Personally I think a lot of aspiring developers in particular miss this all the time. Some people only have 2 projects in their portfolio, while others might have 3. The goal is to have as many as possible. I have a friend in L.A. and he had 30 projects. It was crazy. And he worked on them during the job he was working in at the time. He was trying to learn PHP by building them from scratch and that's how he ended up with so many.

When he showed me his portfolio the projects looked ugly, if I was being honest. But the amount of things he had really blew me away. He learned to build his own form, a project on how to send mail by PHP, a project on how to create an e-commerce page using JavaScript and the list goes on. He separated them into 30 different projects and kept adding to it. And now he's making a ton of money in the bank. We talked on Instagram one day and said that he's making $65 an hour now. For comparison his first job paid him $45 an hour. He's making $95,000 a year, it's crazy.

This all became possible because of how much effort and how many projects he built. Some people only have 1 or 2 projects under their belt and expect to get hired. That's not how it works. No one in their right mind would hire you if you just did the minimal work. And there are some people out there who only use projects they copied from tutorials. Let me tell you this now, that's never gonna work out. You're not the only one watching those tutorials and copying them, there are a thousand others doing the same thing. And when the employers see that the portfolios are all the same, you won't stand out.

That's why when you do portfolios you have to make them your own. You can watch tutorials and do what they tell you to do, I'm not saying you shouldn't. But you have to make that project different and stand out. And if possible try to build your own things from scratch. It's not gonna be easy. But as the saying goes: hard work pays off.

3 You're not stepping out of your comfort zone.

I'm speaking from personal experience on this one. I was doing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and minimal PHP in my first developer job. And I did this for 2 years. JavaScript wasn't my strongest point at that time, and because of it I was scared to pursue other things. Because I kept thinking that I've been a developer for 2 years already and I'm still struggling to learn about frameworks and libraries. I thought that I had to automatically be good and I was scared of proving myself that I'm bad.

The truth is I was. I still think I am to this day. But looking back on it now the main thing that held me back was that I was scared to get out of my comfort zone. That's why even today as I'm typing this, I always challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone as much as possible. Because I know I won't improve as a web developer that way. I'm learning cyber security as a front-end developer right now. It might be hard, but it's a challenge I won't back down from.

This is something you need to be able to do, to tackle a project that you think you can't do. Because going back to #2, if your portfolio is the same as everyone else's you won't stand out and they won't hire you. The same applies here. If you can only do the basic things like everyone else, the chances of you landing a job is very small. You need to show to whoever is interviewing you that this is what you can do, what makes you stand out from the others.

Because if you choose to do something crazy as a junior developer with no experience. If you're willing to take a project head-on on your own. What more when you get hired and someone with more experience teaches you. That's why getting out of your comfort zone is really important. Dreams don't work unless you do.

4 You need to network.

This one is very simple: make friends. Now I myself didn't get my first 2 jobs because of networking, it was because of pure hard work and sheer luck. But when I got laid off from my second job the main reason I was able to land a new job in 4 days was because I networked. There was a time when some friends of mine had interviews in the second job I was working in, and they got those interviews without sending an application because they knew me. And one of them got the job, just like that. This is why networking is a big deal.

When it came to the job that I'm working at right now, some people that I know who had interviews for the company got offers for the job because they knew me. They didn't even have to do coding tests. And a good way to start networking is through LinkedIn. Put your content out there, show them what you've been working on or what you've accomplished. Document your web developer journey. Something to show that you stand out.

And there are other alternatives. Make friends on Instagram, follow people on Twitter, join Discord channels, join Slack channels. Make friends using whatever social media you have access to. You never know, that one person you befriend might just lead you to your first job as a web developer. This is why networking is important. No man is an island after all.

5 You're allowing yourself to be defeated.

Stop allowing yourselves to be defeated and discouraged. It's normal to feel these emotions but don't let it stop you from applying to more jobs. I know a friend who learned code for 3 months and during the last month he applied to jobs every single day. And he would get rejected time and time again. And you know what he did? He gave up. He said that he couldn't get a job in 3 months like I did and said it's not for him.

I told him that he only has 3 months of experience, so he shouldn't expect someone to hire him. A little too straightforward I know, but I needed to smack some sense into him. You have to keep applying like there's no tomorrow. Make it a habit to apply to at least 3 jobs a day. And expect that no one will get back to you. Because when someone does get back to you, you're going to be very excited.

So don't allow yourselves to be defeated. Don't allow yourselves to be discouraged. Just keep going and don't stop. Because that one day you don't apply to a job could have been the day you found a potential opportunity. If I didn't apply to my first developer job back then, I wouldn't be here typing this.

Because I kept going knowing an opportunity would come if I didn't give up is the reason why I'm here and where I am today. So never give up and keep on fighting. All your hard work will pay off and you're going to thank yourself one day.

Chris Sean
Developer Relations Engineer @New Relic