I know how hard it is to give everything you got for job interviews only to be rejected every time. It’s so hard to keep going because every time you get a rejection, it makes you doubt if you’re a good developer. In my experience, the feeling of not being a good developer never goes away. It’s something worth learning how to handle so it doesn’t keep sabotaging you.
Truly said, nobody wants to hire people with less than 3-5 years of experience. There are a few exceptions, of course, but the competition is super high.
I know lots of people in the same situation. It has nothing to do with your worth as a developer and as a person.
My experience was similar. I moved to Vancouver with only 3 months of experience as a Ruby Developer. It was tough and I wanted to give up several times.
What to do instead of only practicing for technical interviews
Regarding having a tough time with interviewing and how to pass on, I will share what worked for me (and I’ve seen it working for others).
You can spend years practicing for technical interviews. I did not have the patience for that.
I took a different route: it had worked for me to land my first internship job in Brazil. I decided to give it a try again when I moved to Vancouver.
“Filling in the gaps” can be a vicious cycle. You can fill in the gaps for years. And still, keep being rejected.
What worked for me and I advocate for is volunteering and putting yourself out there. I know it’s comfortable to keep applying for jobs, doing codewars and exercism all day. You gotta prove you’re technical enough, right?
Getting feedback is the fastest way to fill in the gaps. How will you get feedback if you’re practicing on your own? It’s possible but it requires deliberate practice.
Volunteering gives you instant feedback on what your skill gaps are. Real-world scenarios with constraints, and users. It also gives you ooportunities to expand your network, create your opportunities, and share your work with others.
When the company says they won’t move forward with you because there were a few gaps in your Ruby knowledge most of the time is a polite way to say “I don’t know you and I don’t know if I can take a chance on you”.
I got my first Ruby dev job with no experience in Brazil at one of the best Ruby startups at the time. I was writing on my blog about what I was learning, volunteering to be a coach at the Rails Girls workshops, attending meetups, etc. Because of that the company decided to give me a chance.
By volunteering, you’ll be connecting with humans. People who can advocate for you. Endorse you for any opportunities that come up. It’s not guaranteed but I bet it will help you much more than just practicing for interviews.
The danger of applying for jobs at companies you don’t know
When you apply for jobs at random, the chances of you landing a crappy job in a toxic environment, especially for early-career developers, is high.
Instead of shooting for whatever works (unless you need it), make connections with people who can advocate for you.
Let’s say 100 people are applying for a job and someone from the company says: “I recommend this person and here’s why”, it’s a no-brainer. It’s just human psychology, right? They know you’re endorsed by someone whose opinion they value.
Put yourself out there. Get feedback. Help others. Become the person who is recommended.
To wrap up, here are a few things I’d suggest:
- Are you in touch with your coworkers/managers from your previous job? Could you ask them to write you a letter of recommendation or something? I’d start there.
- On the hexdevs blog, we’ve written a few posts on our philosophy on practicing for technical interviews:
- Dev With No Experience? Here’s one way to get experience today. - there’s a list of Ruby projects to volunteer.
- How to Build a Developer Portfolio And Be Stuck Forever
Look around to see how people who are doing what you want to be doing did it. Get out of your own head and start doing something, particularly something that scares you. That’s a good sign you’re going to grow out of it.
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