Many developers in the early stages of their careers are trying to navigate the challenges of a market that struggles to spot talent in a crowd of experienced developers and engineers. This article features seven essential hacks for junior engineers to create the foundation for a successful and sustainable software development career. The tips will help developers fast-track their careers, make an immediate impact, and stand out so they get noticed by companies seeking skilled and motivated developers.
Top 7 Tips to Kickstart Your Career
1. Build your LinkedIn profile
Visibility is key, and LinkedIn is the place to be today. Make sure your online presence is maximized with an active and updated profile. Comment on company updates, participate in group discussions and try to get recommendations from CTOs or team leads you may have engaged with previously. Also, consider engaging with recruiters and head-hunters for additional impact.
2. Participate in dev events and meetups
Once you have established a digital presence on LinkedIn, you need to connect the dots by participating in events, lectures, and conferences. The software engineering space is constantly evolving, and you want to stay in the loop. Being an active participant in developer get-togethers will boost your networking and allow you to stay ahead of the curve.
Online events are here to stay - at least for the moment. But with the world slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face conferences are also coming back, and many worthwhile software developer conferences are coming up this year.
3. Establish your presence on GitHub
This is the time to establish a presence on GitHub. Try to beef up your resume and make a good case by contributing to an open-source project on this dev-centric platform. Practicing with Git and GitHub is a valuable skill you will need to demonstrate sooner than later.
4. Freelance away
Like any other profession, software engineering is all about getting started and learning on the go. It doesn’t matter if you are unemployed or working your first job as a QA professional or junior developer. You’ll want to start freelancing as soon as possible– some great freelancer platforms are Upstack, Upwork, Toptal, and Gun.io. You can also practice new languages and prepare for future challenges.
5. Join dev communities
The online developer community is a giant ecosystem you need to tap into. Get exposed to training opportunities and gain exclusive access to job openings that may not be floated on mainstream channels. Subscribe to newsletters, track industry news via relevant subreddits, and spend time on StackOverflow - a community with almost 5 million developers. It’s worth every minute of your time.
6. Start interviewing even before you’re ready
Once your resume is in tip-top shape, apply for jobs and go on interviews - even those you are unsure about. The reasoning behind this is simple: You need to familiarize yourself with the screening process, learn how to follow up with potential employers, and create a professional identity that works (literally). This is a huge confidence-boosting hack that will also help you in the short and long run.
7. Compromise on Salary Packages
The software developer space rewards experience and demonstrated value like any other industry. Be prepared to earn less in your first couple of jobs. Prioritize landing in companies with fast-paced environments, healthy corporate cultures, and cutting-edge technologies. You should also meet with team leaders and the CTO before signing on the dotted line.
The Bottom Line
Demand for developers is growing, but so are the expectations. You have to demonstrate value instantly and keep growing as a professional to make your mark. Diversify your skillset and learn multiple programming languages to bring more value to the table. Always remember - becoming a successful software developer is a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended).
Written by Keren Halperin, VP People at Swimm