How Hard is it to Get a Programming Job?

You might be thinking it is too hard. Too many people are doing it, and I’m not good enough. But I promise you are most likely wrong. It is much easier to get a programming job than you might think.

Answer: Getting a programming job can be very easy if you know the proper steps to take and the right places to look for your first job. Many companies struggle to find enough people to fill the rosters and move the technology forward at a fast enough rate. Now is the time to get started!

You could be fresh out of code school or college. You could be the self-taught whiz kid that everyone calls. You could be like me, the self-taught guy who loves new challenges. But the questions are all the same, and I aim to answer these questions for you in this article.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about getting a job without experience, being a self-taught programmer, and a quick look at how to give yourself the best shot!

Get a Programming Job with No Experience

You might be worried about no experience on your resume; however, this is not as big a factor as you think. Even better than that, though, is how easy it is to overcome a problem if you are anxious about getting a job with little or no experience.

You should know that many companies are ready and willing to hire people without experience if they show drive and initiative. If you are scratching your head at that, ask yourself the following questions:

Did you make anything on your own?

A great way to get your foot in the door and show you have initiative is to start a project independently. Follow the standard tutorials if you don’t know what you are doing but want to stand out among the candidates. You will need to develop something unique and not follow the standard path of “resume projects.” Or, if you do go that path, you need to take it to the next level. Add something unique to your project or connect two different projects.

Are you willing to try new things and push through walls to figure things out?

One of the top things you want to work for will be thinking about when they evaluate you (sorry, that is a mouth full) is; How much time will I need to spend getting this person up to speed?

You can help alleviate their fears that they will be spending their precious time helping you by showing you have the drive needed to be a good coder. Remember how I just talked about taking the initiative and combining two projects? You can do this via blog or vlog, documenting your growth and development (no pun intended). Make a blog or YouTube channel show over a few posts or videos on how you overcame the challenges and figured out the project independently.

Let me give you a hint here; failure is good if you can show the fall and show yourself getting up again to get back to work on the problem at hand.

So many people get confused about this point. They want to show a perfect project and how they breezed through the entire thing without mistakes. That is the wrong thing to do. It’s terrible because it is rarely genuine, and if it was real, you likely picked something too easy. Show your potential team leader that you are the kind of programmer that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Will they even hire me? How will I know I’m good enough? Let me square away the second question by saying if you can complete a tutorial, there is a potential job for you. Keep reading for the answer to the first question.

Do Companies Hire Self-Taught Programmers?

It is funny how many people ask this question; the answer is YES companies often hire self-taught programmers.

Not only did I get ALL of my programming jobs with no degree. I now regularly hire people without degrees or degrees in completely unrelated areas who are self-taught.

I read the other day that 70% of job listings don’t even require a degree.

If you are worried that you may not know enough or your resume may not be as good-looking as other people’s. Just know companies hire self-taught programmers all of the time. Programming is engaging because it is still early enough to understand that it can be considered an art.

The questions you should be asking about this come more down to personal issues you should ask yourself.

  1. Do I love this career and would do it in my spare time, even if not hired?
  2. Do I love to solve problems and puzzles?
  3. Can I obsess over something?

Sounds funny, right? But the truth is, whether you have a degree or not, companies want to hire people that can put a yes on at least two of these three questions.

Another thing that will help start something. Start an open-source project or at least contribute to one. Starting something or working with others will look good on your resume, but even more important, you will likely meet some people better than you and further your self-taught education.

Let me break it down in the next section to follow some steps and check some boxes.

Give Yourself The Best Chance to Learn Programming

It would be best to start by looking at your resources and choosing the best way to spend them. For instance, if you have a ton of time but little money, try one of these methods below. I have personally done both of them in the order listed.

#1 Online Gig-Based Freelancing and Continued Opensource learning:

  1. Spend your time contributing to an open-source project and learning as much as possible from other people you meet online.
  2. When you are at the point you think you can quickly solve a lot of problems, sign up on Fiverr as a vendor or Upwork as a freelancer.
  3. Look through the requests on Fiverr and the open jobs on Upwork to find small jobs related to what you have learned. (I started doing PHP coding with $5 to $25 jobs.)
  4. Take one easy job at a time and work to complete it on your own. Hopefully, if you get stuck, you have made a friend from contributing to Opensource projects, and you will be able to reach out for help. It would be best if you also had learned by now that Google is a great resource.

I don’t want to motivate you with money, and I can say the landscape has changed a lot since I last did this, but I could make a good amount of money fixing these minor issues that more advanced programmers don’t even want to touch.

#2 Charity Work

  1. Keeping up with new technologies is essential and can help you make new friends, so I recommend spending time contributing to Opensource projects.
  2. When you have learned some basic skills, such as building a website or solving a problem that can help someone in the real world, offer your services for free.
  3. Charities are great because most of the board members will be business owners, and you will get the chance to meet them and help them with something they often love.
  4. Do a good job, and you will get offers for more work from the people related to the charity you have chosen to help.

At one point, I needed to jumpstart my freelance business after a career change. I sought out a small charity that needed website work and offered to do it for free for the chance to show their board what I could do. I got several paying gigs and one very generous job offer, the highest offer I had ever gotten.

But Wait I Have A Degree!

I hope after reading this, you can see it is not that hard to get a programming job. The statistics are staggering, and I hope to do another article detailing those shortly. Still, now you have some ideas that should help push things in your favor when looking to get a programming job with or without experience.

Heck Lee

I've been a developer for nearly 15 years. I've led teams, managed projects, hired and fired, and built some very cool things. Along the way, I had a lot of help from others, and now it is time to give back by proving the knowledge I've gained over the years.

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