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 right steps to take, and the right places to look for your first job. Many companies are struggling 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 just 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 with no experience, being a self-taught programmer, and a quick look at how to give yourself the best shot!

How to 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 might think. Even better than that though is how easy of a problem it is to overcome if you are truly worried about it getting a job with little or no experience.

The first thing you should know is that many companies are ready and willing to hire people that have no experience if they show drive and have 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 on your own. Follow the standard tutorials if you don’t know what you are doing, but if you want to stand out among the candidates. You are going to need to come up with 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 together.

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

One of the top things someone that 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 all of the precious time helping you by showing you have the drive needed to be a good coder. Remember how I just talked about taking initiative and taking two projects and combining them? One of the easiest ways to show you are driven is to document the process. Make a blog or YouTube channel show over a few posts or several videos on how you overcame the challenges and figured out the project on your own.

Let me give you a hint here; failure is good as long as you show the fall and then you picking yourself up again.

So many people get confused about this point. They want to show a perfect project and how the breezed through the entire thing with no mistakes. That is the wrong thing to do. Show your potential team leader that you are the kind of programmer that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Now I know for some of you reading this you are thinking that sounds good but I’m self-taught 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 even complete a tutorial without doing anything special 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 to me how many people ask this question, and the answer is YES companies hire self-taught programmers all of the time.

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 completely 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 peoples. Just know companies hire self-taught programmers all of the time. Programming is interesting in that it is still early enough in our understanding that it can be considered an art.

The questions you should be asking related to 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 degree or not companies want to hire people that can put a yes on at least 2 of these 3 questions.

Another thing that might help you. If you are driven enough to teach yourself maybe you should start something. Start an open-source project or at least contributing to one. This 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.

Here let me break it down in the next section so you can follow some steps and check some boxes.

What You Should Do to Give Yourself the Best Chance?

You should start by looking at what resources you have and making a choice on 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 opensource project and learning as much as you can from other people you meet online.
  2. When you are at the point you think you can solve a lot of problems quickly 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 that are related to what you have learned. (I personally started with $5 to $25 jobs doing PHP coding.)
  4. Take 1 easy job at a time and work to complete it on your own. If you get stuck, hopefully, you have made a friend from contributing to Opensource projects and you will be able to reach out for help. You should also have learned by now Google is a great resource.

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

#2 Charity Work

  1. Keeping up with new technologies is important and can help you make new friends so again I recommend spending time contributing to Opensource projects.
  2. When you have learned some of the very 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 are going to business owners and you will get the chance to meet them and you will also be helping 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. Even job offers.

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 which at the time was the highest offer I had ever gotten.

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 in the near future, but now you have some ideas that should help push things in your favor when you are looking to get a programming job with or without experience.

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