Getting your first job in tech is so hard. You have to fight that uphill battle where you need the work experience to get the job, but you can’t get work experience without first having a job. Eventually, you will get that first gig and it will be glorious. You finally are getting paid to do what you have been working hard to do! This is an accomplishment for sure.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to get caught up in the euphoria of getting your first job, that you stop planning for the rest of your career. I would venture to say that getting your second job is just as important and just as difficult as getting your first job.
Looking back on my own career here are a few things I recommend to help you break into your next job:
Build your Network
One of the most important things you can do to better your career is to build your network. Andy Lester even devotes a whole chapter to it in his book, Land The Tech Job You Love. Networking sounds so “business” like but it really isn’t. Networking is nothing more than just making friends and keeping in touch with them.
Here are a list of things you can do easily:
- Connect with your co-workers and managers on LinkedIn.
- Go to meetups and conferences, speak at them as well if you can. Don’t forget to talk to the speakers as well.
- Join an online community of devs, such as on discord.
- Contribute to Open Source. When you contribute, you meet the maintainers in the PR process.
Doing all these things help you meet and make new friends in your network. Not only will doing these things help make you a better developer as you learn from each other, you increase your opportunities to find good job that you will love and any stage of your career.
Don’t Ignore Recruiter Emails
The moment you put anything in any of your online profile that indicates you are a programmer, be ready for a flood of emails and DMs from recruiters. In fact, most of messages will be obviously automated with zero indication that the recruiter actually looked at your profile for longer than 5 seconds.
It can be very easy to ignore these messages, but you are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to have a constant flow of jobs come into your inbox. Instead of ignoring them, send them an automated response. In fact, you can copy this one:
Thanks for reaching out to me, but right now is not a good time to entertain new opportunities. Feel free to check back in 8 months.
You send that exact message to every recruiter, if that recruiter is any good at their job, they will reach out to you in 8 months. Eventually, you will want to change positions and having this network of recruiters finding you jobs will be super helpful.
Interviewing is a skill in and of itself and just like any skill it needs to be practiced. All that work you put in to getting your first job, needs to be maintained and perfected even. My cousin, Don Markland, gave me the best advice in this respect. He recommend that I actually go through the interview process with a company once a quarter.
Feel free to end the process before a final interview or job offer is sent, assuming you are not interested, but by going through the process of interviewing with a real company, you maintain that skill you learned getting your first job.
The most important thing to remember is that you should not be stagnant. Keep building your skill set and network and you will be able to keep your options available as you.