When I mentor people trying to land their first few jobs in development, I often encourage them to apply to multiple jobs a week. I’m commonly told there aren’t that many good ones out there.
“What about bad ones,” is my response.
When you look at the sea of jobs that you could qualify for, there are often way more than we consider. While there are plenty of reasons not to work there, there are reasons to apply anyway.
You won’t get an interview if you don’t apply. Pretty obvious, but many people only apply for the jobs they think they want, and that also means they apply to the positions that mean the most to them and when they have the least confidence and practice.
You need to have an application that secures an interview more often than not, and the best way to do that is by applying.
You think your resume is tight, your portfolio site is a banger, and you’ve secured all the best LinkedIn endorsements around, but you still aren’t getting an interview? Something isn’t matching up.
Apply to a job, see if you get an interview, adjust your materials, and repeat.
Get scientific about this. Develop a hypothesis about your resume, test it by applying, and refine it.
You can get your materials dialed into a near 100% interview chance.
The interview process many developers are put through is brutal, and they often put developers off-balance intentionally. Right off the bat, you’re set up to make mistakes. So, practice by actually interviewing.
If you struggle with questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years,” or “Go ahead and whiteboard a depth-first-search of a binary search tree,” you need to practice.
Some of you might think that at-home study is enough, but the stress, nerves, and abnormal setting are enough to turn all that study to sludge when the moment counts.
Applying for jobs, you don’t want gives you extra practice across a wide range of interview questions and techniques. All that practice gives you a way better chance of nailing that interview for the job you want.
You’re best prepared to get a job when you don’t want it.
Strange as it sounds, there is an element of truth to this funny saying. When you don’t want the job, your mind is a lot sharper and clearer through the whole process. That clarity gives you an edge that nerves would otherwise dull.
That boost of confidence you get when you know you don’t want the job can lead to a lot more offers than when you’re desperate for it. Confidence, while situational, has a certain amount of muscle memory to it.
Stage performers often have horrible nerves the first few times they perform. Over time this turns into energy. Imagine going into an interview with energy instead of dread. Interviewers are unaccustomed to seeing people anything other than nervous. That energy will give you an edge compared to the other candidates who are apprehensive.
When applying for jobs, we get our information about the job or company from a few sources. It may be a friend, Glassdoor, the description, and the company site. That isn’t a whole lot to go on sometimes.
So when you apply to jobs that you think you don’t want, you have the opportunity to find out if this job might be a welcome surprise. You also get to hone your ability to interview them back, which will tell you a bit more through the process.
Maybe you thought you wanted to work at Google, but after applying ravenously, you find a cool local company with a bright future and loving culture. Would that be so bad of a surprise?
Imagine getting offers all the time and having a pick. The only way to make that happen is to apply. Get methodical, practice, and keep going.