Whether you’ve done a coding bootcamp or taught yourself, getting your first developer job with only a few months of coding under your belt is hard.

The issues

There are two main issues you’ll come across when you’re in this situation.

  1. You probably won’t have any qualifications in computer science or programming.
  2. People believe that you can’t have learnt all the skills needed to be job-ready in a few months.

Lacking Qualifications

Unfortunately, a lot of the people making the hiring decisions are traditional in their approach, often requiring a degree in computer science, or at least in a STEM subject. Not having a degree in one of these subjects will mean that you won’t get through the initial CV screening stage for some jobs.

Whilst this is a bummer, the solution isn’t to go and spend 3 years and thousands of pounds to get a degree. The landscape is changing and there are definitely jobs that don’t require a degree.

Even some very large firms are removing the degree requirements as they realize that actual experience is much more valuable than obscure education (notably Goldman Sachs).

Focus on getting your first developer job at a company that doesn’t require a degree. Three years of commercial experience is worth a lot more than a degree, and you’ll be getting paid the whole time, not getting yourself into debt.

Lacking the Skills

Most of the people who will be interviewing you will have completed a 3 or 4-year degree and then worked their way up the ladder to the position they are in now. This is why they can’t believe that you could be job ready in just 3 months.

This will often be reinforced by experiences with other bootcamp or self-taught developers who they’ve worked with who did lack the skills needed to be a constructive member of the team.

After all, 3 months is a very short time to learn a lot of skills.

I’m not saying that it is impossible, but that you’ll have had to work incredibly hard. You probably are missing a few skills that you need or have some things that you need practice. Luckily, whilst a degree takes years and thousands of pounds, you can learn and improve your skills quickly and easily.

What you need to do

To overcome the reservations that the interviewers have, you need to demonstrate your skills and experience. Have lots of projects that you can show to interviewers. You should be able to answer a tech question with “this is the answer and this project is where I found out the value of doing it like this”.

My advice to anyone in this situation is to do everything you can to draw attention away from the fact that you did a bootcamp or that you’ve only been coding for a few months. This doesn’t mean lie, but don’t put it on your CV. If they ask you where you learnt to do something you could say:

`I really became proficient with ${skill} when I work on ${project name}. It pushed me from being able to use it to really understanding how it works and my approach to using it changed. I learnt the value of doing ${something you learnt to do better}.`

This could have been a project that you did as part of the bootcamp or an extra project that you did afterwards. If they ask you if you did a bootcamp or how long you’ve been coding, you will have to be honest, but make sure you highlight all of the skills that you’ve improved since then.

This brings me nicely onto my next point:

Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop improving.

If you graduate from a bootcamp and don’t carry on improving yourself, I don’t blame them for not hiring you. I would spend most of my time practicing the skills I was taught in the bootcamp. There are hundreds of posts listing great project ideas.

Personally, I spent three weeks building an e-commerce website with dynamic products, baskets, user accounts and receipt emailing. This was largely practicing skills that I had learnt from online courses I’d done.

To add a new skill, I spent the next week adding a chatbot to the site. I’d never done anything like this but some online tutorials and a bit of trial and error and I got it working.

Building this chatbot was the best spent week of my whole time off. I interviewed at a company who had just built a similar chatbot for a customer and were looking to expand that side of the business. Having shown them my chatbot, I got an offer before I’d left the building and now have built a chatbot platform that handles over 100,000 chats a month!

In Summary

  • Have lots of projects which demonstrate a range of skills and experiences
  • Be discrete about your bootcamp background or how long you’ve been coding
  • Don’t stop learning new skills and sharpening the skills you have