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12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job

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Find out EXACTLY what you need to do to land your first full-time job as a web developer.

With all the lucrative, flexible jobs being reported in tech (many of these tech jobs don’t require a computer science degree), and options to have a tech career outside of tech companies, you might find yourself asking how hard it is to find a tech job in the first place. One of the most popular positions for tech newbies to apply for is that of a junior web developer (sometimes listed as an entry-level front-end developer), and—good news—you don’t need to go back to get a bachelor’s degree to start developing websites for serious money. Why? Because you can pick up the skills you need to land a junior web developer position without ever setting foot in a college classroom again.

Junior web developers are people just starting their careers in the web development industry, but it’s a lucrative jumping off point. According to Glassdoor, as of May 2018 entry-level web developers bring home an average salary of $72,000 (while junior web developers with some experience bring home around $77,800). Even better news? As of the writing of this article, there are over 3,0000 junior web developer job openings on Indeed.

You can start applying for positions as a junior web developer with a working knowledge of the programming languages HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery, and you can find any number of online coding schools or in-person programs and dev bootcamps to pick up these skills, depending on how much time and money you have to spend.

Beyond coding skills, there’s some bonus features to add to your resume, but it’s totally acceptable to get started tracking down jobs as a junior web developer while you’re still collecting these additional skills. Often-asked-for extras on the job market are:

  • Web design/UX/Photoshop
  • Version control (Git/GitHub)
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Responsive web design

If you already have the core programming languages down and are hard at work adding extras to your tech toolbelt, you’ve conquered the hardest part of the job application process. To ensure you’re a top candidate, there’s also plenty you can do to prepare for the interview and application process itself. Here are eleven ways to land a junior web developer job—no CS degree required.

1. Build a Portfolio Site Full of Relevant Work

Your portfolio is the first thing potential employers will look at when considering you for a junior web developer position, so your site needs to be a real reflection of your skills and personal brand. But, before you can load up your portfolio, you need to code it, launch it, and make sure it stands out from other websites.

Once you’ve got your portfolio site built, it’s time to load it up with some core portfolio projects for tech beginners. You’ll want to include any work you’ve done for companies or clients (with their permission) that you feel particularly good about, and remember to include projects that show your range as a design and developer. What’s important here is that you’re uploading strong, clean work that is indicative of both your skill level and brand.

2. Do Freelance Projects

A great way to get some work for your new junior web developer portfolio if you feel like it needs some beefing up is to seek out freelance clients. Taking on projects as a freelancer will help you build business skills like negotiating, establish trustworthiness as a developer, and get you some up-to-date recommendations to show potential employers. It’ll also give you the chance to gain experience while building up your bank balance.

The projects don’t have to be huge ones—you can offer, for example, to re-do the navigation for a local restaurant’s website or to create an HTML newsletter for a charity organization. Both are great portfolio pieces for your shiny new website.

You also might consider doing some charity work yourself—in the form of pro bono projects. You won’t be bringing home any bacon from them, but they’ll beef up your portfolio, give you a way to network, and you can actually make unpaid projects pay off for you in lots of ways that will boost your job search and career.

4. Put Your Code on Github

Github is the industry-standard for version control, and many companies want to know that you have hands-on experience before extending an offer. You can prove that and show off your best code by creating your own Github account and using it as a repository for your projects.

After you get an account set up, make regular contributions to GitHub. This shows potential employers that you’re consistently working on your skills, even if they’re only for imaginary projects. Keep your code clean and organized and include concise README documentation so that employers know you’ll be able to jump right in to collaboratively coding on their teams.

5. Contribute to an Open Source Project

If most of your coding so far has been for classes, mock projects, or solo gigs, you can also increase your teamwork cred by getting involved in an open source project. (Open source is the term for source code that’s publicly available and can be modified by anyone.) There’s an incredible range of open source projects out there, including famous ones like Ruby on Rails, Linux, MySQL, and loads of JavaScript frameworks. Getting involved in open source projects will strengthen your development skills, get you hands-on experience working on teams and projects, and help you meet and network with other developers. Plus, you’ll have strong, industry-vetted experience to talk about in your job interview.

You can look for open source projects of all kinds and sizes on Explore GitHub. And once you find a project you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to jump in and help! Some easy first steps are reporting bugs, helping prioritize issues, beta testing, working on the project’s website, or improving documentation.

6. Participate in a Hackathon

You can’t turn around nowadays without bumping into a hackathon! They’re a fun and exciting way to get to know tech people who share your interests, help tackle relevant problems, test your coding skills, learn from others, and maybe win prizes! At a hackathon, you’ll end up coding on a team, and if you’ve been learning to code on your own, proving you can hack it (I’ll show myself out) with a team of coders makes you a lot more appealing to hiring managers at web development agencies.

To find hackathons near you or online, try searching sites like AngelHack, hackathon.io, and ChallengePost. And remember to keep your eye out at the event for sponsors and recruiters. Many a web developer has gotten noticed at a hackathon and offered a job right on the spot!

7. Meet Techies Online and IRL

Hopefully you’ll gain contacts at hackathons, but don’t let the networking stop there. Keep reaching out to the people you meet, and learn more about the web development industry by talking online and in person. The easiest way to do this is through tech meetup groups. Almost every city has them, and if yours doesn’t, you can set up your own. Just pick the focus, find a place (even a coffee shop or local park will do!), and spread the word on social media, email, or in person.

Or, if you’re really not in a location that lets you get together with other techies, look for communities online. Answer questions on Stack Overflow, comment on Twitter threads related to development, or help out on the WordPress.org forum. Whether you meet in person or on the Internet, you’ll be expanding your horizons and getting to know people who can turn out to be your future co-workers or superiors.

8. Follow Industry News

Make a point to keep up with what’s happening in tech—this is critical for both your first web developer job interview and all the small-talk you’ll be making with new tech friends. You don’t need to be an expert on every story or topic out there; just get to know what’s hot and what’s happening. You can read blogs or tech news sites over breakfast, listen to podcasts when you’re walking your dog, or scan Twitter lists while you’re waiting in line at the store.

9. Learn More

Besides keeping up on the news, you should also keep up with new skills and tools of the trade. As a web developer, knowing these will make you that much more in-demand. A few that are most requested are CSS preprocessors like Sass or Less, frameworks like Backbone.js, Angular.js, or Node.js, etc. or Ruby on Rails, and a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress. You can explore the wonderful world of Ruby through a number of resources or try the Skillcrush WordPress Developer Blueprint to learn the world’s most popular CMS.

10. Refine Your Resume

Even though your portfolio is where you’ll show off your skills, most companies still ask for resumes and use them to weed out candidates. That means yours needs to be as polished and professional as your portfolio. Make sure you highlight your core skills, play up any tech-related experience, and give specific details to prove your achievements and strengths. Additionally, take the time to choose a clean, easy-to read template (or design your own!) to use as a resume. There are a bunch of resume templates floating around the internet for free, and your future employer will thank you for having all your experience outlined in a clear, visually-pleasing way. Remember, you want to get hired as much as your employer wants to hire someone—why not make it easy for both of you?

11. Start Your Job Hunt for Junior Developer Jobs

Now that you’ve made the extra effort with networking and skill polishing, it’s time to dive into some actual job listings. Start by simply searching for “junior web developer” on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and don’t worry about the company or the location. The idea is for you to see what employers are looking for and what kind of options are available in general.

Keep in mind that job descriptions tend to list more (sometimes WAY more!) requirements than are really expected from candidates. Don’t let this discourage you. Many hiring managers makes their decision based on your ability to learn on the job—no one is going to know everything coming in to a new position and you’ll get some on-the-job training. Once you’ve gotten a feel for what’s out there, send out your resume for the jobs you’re really interested in. Be realistic but don’t be shy. Nobody’s going to come knocking on your door with a web dev position in hand. You have to put yourself out there.

And don’t forget the good ol’ grapevine! Let all your friends, family, neighbors, and—of course—hackathon/meet-up/online friends know that you’re actively looking. You never know who has a friend who has a friend who knows just the job for you.

12. Interview for a Job—Even If You’re Not Sure You’re Ready

When that shiny happy moment happens and you’re asked to interview, go for it! Even if you don’t get the first job (or second, or third), the experience you’ll gain from sitting down in person or via video chat with a potential employer will make you a more competitive candidate for jobs down the line. Why? Interviewing is hard. It just is. But the good news is that this learning curve can be overcome with experience. You have the skills, the knowledge, and the experience to impress an employer. Now you just need to be able to communicate that to them.

Skillcrush lead developer Emily Davis says that when she interviews candidates for developer positions, she looks for “a candidate’s ability to break down a problem into small pieces that can be worked through step-by-step. This means she is likely able to identify the root cause of an issue and work from there, rather than having little or no idea where to start.” Anticipate questions like this, where the interviewer is asking more about how you tackle problems and situations overall, as it gives an idea of who you are as a professional—not just your experience with one program or language.

Dress comfortably but professionally, practice problem-solving questions with a friend or family member, and research the company beforehand so that you have questions for the employer as well. No matter how your first interview goes, you’ll survive the experience, which will make the next one that much easier. Plus you’ll have a much better idea of what future interviews will be like and what you need to work on for them. In no time at all, instead of just applying for junior web developer positions, you’ll be accepting your first one!

Get our <span>FREE</span> Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Get our FREE Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Find out EXACTLY what you need to do to land your first full-time job as a web developer.

Kelli Smith

Kelli handles customer support here at Skillcrush – plus she's an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She's also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer in the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves tech podcasts, cute Corgi photos and, most of all, catalan-style line dancing – as a true Texan living in Finland would!

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41 comments

  1. Free Auto Approve List 7-12-2018 Replied

    I’ve just added a fresh new list. This is by far the biggest list to date. I hope you all are having a great week. Take care and happy link building.

  2. James Replied

    Sorry Kelli, but you really need to do some research before writting articles about this. Very bad information, and this could be unhelpful to some people. Also there are only 11 items, you are missing item 3.

  3. UptownJ Replied

    I am not sure I understand this post. Don’t get me wrong, It is positive and hopeful! I am doing everything in the article.

    My biggest challenge is finding a true junior role. Time and time again, I have seen posts for junior roles with 3-5 years of experience. Now they call anything with < 3 years an 'entry level' role.  There lies the chicken and egg thing. Where do I find the entry level roles? I have 20+ years of experience in I.T., went back to school, got good grades, focused on web development, and I can't get a job in web development.

    I take that back. I was hired for a junior role and was let go after two days. They wanted someone more senior as it turns out. I've done side projects, freelance, and I am passionate. Time and time again I am told I don't have enough experience or I am not senior enough.

    I am in Chicagoland area, by the way.

    I will keep plugging away and hopefully land something soon. Keep writing great posts!

    j

      • zipov Replied

        Dude, HTML literally stands for ‘Hypertext Markup Language’.

  4. swalsh Replied

    “But don’t let the tiny-sounding title fool you! Entry-level web developers…” also have to have the equivalent of multiple years of working experience. Is what I actually gather from every similar post I see on this as well as some in the industry I approached when trying to see if webdev would be a feasible career shift. I was essentially told “Good luck buddy but probably wont work out”

  5. Anwer Ashif Replied

    I have been working as freelancer web developer on Fiverr. It’s a pleasure hearing about Hackathon and contribution to open source. I am sure I should contribute there in early age.

  6. Pravakar Mandal Replied

    few years ago..when i started to learn about software engineeering i was totaly unable to understand about the codes.but when time passed then something like curiosity about the techs and how it’s working across the world.then i started to learn about web developing and i am still new for that position and wanna go further and into the depth of web development.guys your’s most valuable thoughts and articles makes me motivated and also inspires myself to do something better.thnxxx to all.

  7. Lmadri123 Replied

    it’s a cool article !! you give me more motivation ^^

    • UroiT Replied

      javascript is hard and i dont know how to make ecommerce yet

  8. Mahbub bakth Ansary Replied

    Really it saves me.I was really worried about my career…But it gives me a lots inspiration to be started..

  9. Paschal Replied

    This article is cool and it has really lifted by spirit today. I am totally new to web development and I look forward to a bright future in this. We are making the world a better place.

  10. jessica Replied

    This blog explains the details of most popular technological details. This helps to learn about what are all the different method is there. And the working methods all of that are explained here. Informative blog.

  11. Yo momma Replied

    $71K per year? LOL More like $13 an hour to start if you’re lucky to get picked among a cast of thousands applying for the same job!

  12. Ryan Replied

    I didn’t do most of this stuff and I’m a Programmer Analyst now making pretty good money.

    I did write code for fun throughout my child hood, and was pretty savy before entering college, but I hadn’t really shown anything to anyone.

    What I had going for me was I could talk to the talk, and I could back it up with in person demonstrations, or face to face’s with their tech leads.

    What I did was I worked in a factory while going to an online college. I lived at home with my parents while working at the factory and finishing college. When I completed the college (near end of degree) I emailed a local development business (consultant company) about hiring me as a paid intern. They decided to do it and brought me on at $10 an hour.

    They hired me full time 3 months later at 37k.

    I worked there 3.5 years and moved on to another company making 50k. I worked there 2 years and moved on again making a lot more than that %50+ more money.

    I started the internship when I was 26, I’m now 32.

    I don’t have a blog, any open source code, no portfolio, no freelance work, never been to a hackathon, and my resume is only 1 page with basic skills on it and that’s it.

    What I do have is a StackOverflow.com profile with decent rep points where I’ve answered a lot of peoples questions. I also have a linkedin profile with some endorsed skills.

    Aside from experience, that’s about it.

    This process has allowed me to get where I want to be without devoting my life to it. I still have a personal life, and free time galore. I’m not up till the crack of dawn everyday blogging or checking in to open source repositories just to stay on my game.

    The job I have now allows me to take training courses on the clock, or do research on a new platform on the clock, so I’m at a place now where I enjoy going to work everyday, and I can look forward to relaxing and setting my work down when I get home.

    • faarah Replied

      can you please refer me to any company which hire internees? I just want to get some experience in web development no matter about the pay

    • Anonymous Replied

      Wow am really new in devs…. I think am beginning to enjoy and like web developing… 

    • Eric Replied

      I agree, Sam I did none of this just a good rep from the Company i worked for and school. And i am in the same situation as you.

  13. Cheap Web Design UK Replied

    Thank you so much for sharing valuable information. Learned a lot from this article. Thanks again.

  14. Shannon A Replied

    Fantastic article. Chalk full of great advice! Thanks, Kelli!

  15. Sens Hart Replied

    I call everyone dude. :) Your article is really helpful.

    • Cameron Chapman Replied

      I call everyone (and sometimes inanimate objects) dude, too! :)

  16. Denise Replied

    Completely left out prepping for the technical interview. That’s a huge aspect of it imo.

  17. utweb Replied

    Great article, that was really helpful. I recently started learning html and css. Some of my friends say that I should learn both design and development, sort of a hybrid. Also I don’t have degree. Need help?

  18. Krista Replied

    Great information.  I very much appreciate it.  That said, the “Explore Github” link is broken.

    • Kelli Orrela Replied

      Thanks so much, Krista! The link to Explore Github is working again now. :)

  19. michigancreative Replied

    I read your blog great information about career success…

  20. pete66 Replied

    Skillcrush.com is a practical-‘Rise and shine’ opportunity to all things IT.

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