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6 Steps You Can Take to Enter the Job Market With Confidence

06/08/2023
5 minutes

Whether you’re a new grad soaking up the pomp and circumstance of graduation season, or you recently earned a Codecademy professional certificate in a career path — congrats! Every step that takes you closer to your goal of working in tech is worth celebrating. 

Entering the job market at any stage of your life is exciting, and also a little intimidating. The thing is, job seekers have a lot to be hopeful about right now: the AI boom is creating new opportunities, all types of industries are looking for people with technical expertise, and more organizations are hiring candidates based on their skills

If it’s your first time applying for tech jobs, there are a few solid steps you can take now so that you’re prepared to enter the workforce confidently. We have all the resources you need to land a job and show up prepared to contribute on your first day of work. Be sure to check out this blog about what hiring managers look for in an entry-level candidate, browse personalized job listings, and practice answering technical interview questions. Read on for even more tips for new grads and first-time job seekers in tech.

Build a portfolio

In addition to your resume, hiring managers typically ask to see a portfolio of coding projects that you’ve completed. Your portfolio is supposed to showcase your technical abilities and illustrate that you have practical experience. If you don’t have any professional experience coding, don’t sweat it — you can include projects that you build for practice or for fun in your portfolio. 

The projects that you include in your portfolio should be relevant to the role that you’re applying to. The types of projects in a Junior Web Developer portfolio would be very different from a portfolio for a Data Analyst position, for instance. Want some inspiration? We have lots of projects in our library that you can use in your portfolio. 

Refine your technical skills

We know, we know: If you just finished school, you probably need (and deserve!) a break from homework and studying. But if your goal is to work in tech, it’s important to continuously improve your technical skills and stay up to date with the latest technologies and programming languages. Programmers are constantly learning — even professionals who’ve been at it for decades. With a Codecademy Plus membership, you get access to all the resources you need to continuously grow your technical skills, like projects and personalized practice.

Learn something new for free

No shade to your professors and teachers, but learning outside of a classroom can be much more rewarding (and fun, TBH) because you get to decide what to learn and how often you’ll study. For example, you might want to take our free Intro to ChatGPT course to learn about generative AI. Or maybe you keep hearing about Rust and want to pick up a new language. Perhaps you want to focus on learning the specific skills you need to launch a career in data science.

Whatever your passions are, check out our whole catalog of coding courses and paths to find a subject that interests you. Beyond our interactive courses — which are totally self-paced — you can also complete coding projects to reinforce what you’re learning in the courses and paths. 

Reach out to your contacts

The idea of networking might make you cringe, but connections are often how people get in the door or hear about job leads. Start networking with professionals in the industry whose careers interest you; ask people for an informal call or meeting and learn about how they got to their position today. (Most of the time, people are happy to share their personal experiences and advice.) 

There are plenty of ways to build a professional network online, like using LinkedIn, joining one of our local chapters, or attending virtual meetups. You can also apply to be in our Code Crew, a new super user program that connects you to other like-minded coding pros in our community. 

If you recently graduated from college, see if your school has an alumni network that you can tap into as a way to meet folks in the industry. They might also offer career services for alumni that can support your job search. 

Prepare for technical interviews

Job interviews for tech roles typically involve a technical interview portion, where you’ll be asked to complete code challenges and talk through your work. This is so that hiring managers can vet your technical skills and understand your problem-solving approach. It can be nerve-wracking, but with the right preparation you’ll be well-equipped to nail the technical interview. 

Our interview prep courses are designed to get you ready to answer and explain real-world technical interview questions. On the blog, we have lots of examples of interview questions for specific languages or jobs that are worth reviewing.

Get involved with open-source projects

Be proactive and get hands-on experience contributing to open-source projects and collaborating with other developers on platforms like GitHub. It’s a way to get your work seen and establish yourself in the coding world, and it shows potential employers that you know how to work with a team. Not to mention, the open-source developer community is vibrant, and the relationships you make could connect you to job or mentorship opportunities down the line. 

Not sure where to start? Contribute to Docs, our community-driven code documentation. New devs and established programmers use Docs to reference various concepts and tools. Having technical content like Docs to add to your GitHub and portfolio is yet another way you can demonstrate your skills. 

Build your personal brand

It’s a good idea to polish your online presence, like your LinkedIn profile and your resume website, in case hiring managers need to reference them during the application process. As a recent grad or career switcher, think about how you’re establishing your personal brand as a tech professional. For starters, you may want to use the “Open to Work” feature on LinkedIn to boost your chances of getting seen by a recruiter. Writing a programmer bio is another easy exercise that can help you reflect and summarize what you want to do next. 

Stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the tech field and build on your reputation. For example, you may want to consider starting a coding blog or vlog to chronicle what you’re learning. 

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