Making the leap from browsing job boards to actually submitting an application often requires some mental gymnastics. You might be coping with impostor syndrome, getting butterflies thinking about an interview, or second-guessing whether you have enough experience to even be considered for the job.
Here’s the thing: There’s no one-size-fits-all timeframe that it takes for people to be prepared to apply for coding positions. When you take a look at all the stories about Codecademy learners who’ve launched new careers, you’ll see that everyone progresses at a different pace. That said, if you keep waiting for that perfect moment when you’re absolutely “ready” to apply for jobs, you might miss out on valuable opportunities to learn about yourself and grow.
Here are a few concrete signs that suggest you’re ready to apply for a coding job, so you can approach this next stage of your career with confidence. Be sure to visit out our new Career Center to check out game-changer tools to use in your job search, exclusive job listings, career paths, interview prep resources, and more.
You know what you want to do
If you’re a career switcher or are applying for your very first technical position, it can be tricky to figure out what type of job you want to have. You might know what type of work you enjoy doing, but have no clue what job title to look for. Rather than applying to any entry-level developer job you come across, it’s worthwhile to pinpoint the specific role or specialty that interests you the most.
In the free course Choosing a Career in Tech you’ll learn about the different types of programmers, the programming languages and technologies used, and the soft skills that make you successful in a particular career. After the course, you’ll understand how different members of a technical team work together on a product, and be able to decipher job descriptions so you can be intentional about your applications. For more tech career inspo, be sure to read this blog about what different types of software engineers actually do all day.
Your skills fit the job description
It might sound obvious, but it’s important to read a job description carefully to make sure you understand what the role entails. Pay attention to the skills that are listed as “required,” because that’ll tell you the technologies and programming languages that you’ll primarily be using. There may also be “preferred” skills, which usually aren’t must-haves for a role, but could give you a leg up if you know them. (Hot tip: Skills are typically listed in order of priority in a job description.)
Make sure your resume incorporates details from the job description. Hiring managers pay close attention to your resume, and are looking for evidence that you have the fundamental technical knowledge needed to do the job. For example, say the description for a Business Intelligence Data Analyst position says you’ll be using SQL and Python, with Tableau listed as a preferred skill. If you only know SQL and Python, but don’t have experience with Tableau, you shouldn’t let that prevent you from applying. Highlight the languages you do know in your resume, and emphasize that you’re an enthusiastic and quick learner.
Using our job-readiness checker is a quick and easy way to tell whether your experience and skills stack up for an open position. This tool generates a compatibility score that estimates how closely your experience aligns with what a job description requires, and helps you pinpoint your areas of improvement.
Your portfolio is stacked with projects
If your past work experience is limited to jobs in other fields, there are a couple of ways you can showcase your coding chops in your portfolio. For starters, you can include any projects that you’ve completed or collaborated on — whether that’s a feature you got to work on during an engineering internship, or an app you built for fun. You can also include a link to your GitHub profile to show off the open-source projects you’ve contributed to. Need some ideas for portfolio-worthy projects? You can upgrade to Codecademy Plus or Pro to access tons of projects in top programming languages and subjects.
You’re prepared for the interviews
Job interviews usually entail multiple steps. After you apply for a position, there’s an initial screening interview on the phone, where the hiring manager or HR representative will determine whether or not to move your application forward. If you pass the screener, then there will be a more in-depth interview (IRL or on a video call) where you can really flex your soft skills and provide more details about your experience and why you want this job. (Also, be sure to prepare a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer.)
If things go smoothly, you might be asked to complete a technical interview. This is an assignment that involves solving real-world coding problems that are similar to the type of work you’d be doing on the job. In addition to having to show your work and code, you’ll also need to explain your approach and why you made certain decisions along the way. Check out the Codecademy blog to review common interview questions for lots of different roles and programming languages. And if you have a Codecademy Pro membership, practice completing code challenges that are based on technical interviews from top tech companies.
You have professional certificates
Certifications are a great way to show your experience, particularly if you come from a nontraditional background. Recruiters and hiring managers can look at the certificates you’ve earned and see tangible proof that you’ve mastered certain skills and are committed to continuous learning.
There are a couple ways to earn certificates on Codecademy. When you finish everything in specific Codecademy skill paths and courses, Codecademy Pro members can earn certificates of completion to use on your resume and LinkedIn profile. As part of Codecademy Pro plans, you can earn professional certificates after completing (and passing) all of the exams within a path. Codecademy professional certificates signal to employers that you’re ready to get hired and can confidently step into a role.
You’re open to receiving feedback
Reality check: The worst thing that can happen if you apply for a job prematurely is you don’t get the job offer. While you might feel temporarily discouraged, every rejection provides you with feedback about what would improve your chances of getting hired next time around.
Maybe there’s a specific programming language you should learn to fill some knowledge gaps? Or perhaps you need to work on more projects to gain hands-on experience? Or maybe it’s a matter of practicing answering the interview questions that trip you up the most? It sounds corny, but if you never try, you’ll never know!
Feel like you’re ready to start sending out job applications, or want to keep honing your skills? Check out our Career Center to access all the tools, resources, and support you need to launch your career in tech.
This blog was originally published in February 2023 and has been updated to include our new job-search resources.