5 tips to give you the edge when job hunting

While gaining a higher education qualification may be required to become a doctor, teacher, social worker or solicitor, it’s definitely not required to become a web designer or developer – or indeed, a professional in any creative discipline.

Having a degree might not necessarily qualify you for a well-paid job, so here are five steps to consider when looking for a job. Follow these tips to help you to shine in job interviews.

01. Seek positive influences

A big problem for school and college leavers is the availability of highly targeted advice. With so much misinformation in circulation, it’s easy for teachers and careers advisors to accidentally pass on inaccurate information. 

The highest priority for anyone seeking to establish a career in the design industry should be to speak with people who have real industry experience. This could be through social media groups, such as on LinkedIn, or one of the many forums on which industry programmers can be found, such as Quora.

02. Develop targeted skills

Use your conversations, as well as researching jobs posted on websites such as jobsite.co.uk, to gain an understanding of the types of roles and pay that interest you. Even though many jobs will be beyond your skillset and experience, you can gain an idea of skills you should develop. There’s no need to be an expert in everything (full stack development), as many jobs focus on either frontend or server-side development and pay just as well.

It’s no secret that the best developers are self taught. Programming isn’t something you can become good at by attending a few classes on a course, so you’re going to have to invest time in learning through experimentation. Use tutorials such as those in net magazine to gain an understanding of web development concepts that you can apply to your CV/resume. Also use this opportunity to show employers that you are capable of managing your own skills development without their input.

03. Gain experience

The truth is that qualifications have almost no value in the web design industry, and the most important thing you can have is a good resume. Employers don’t care if you have a first class degree if you can’t demonstrate how to apply your knowledge. It’s true that many job adverts list a requirement of a good degree, but this is merely a lazy way for HR to reduce time costs associated with interviewing. For those in the know, there are always routes around these HR filters.

An impressive resume doesn’t magically appear from nowhere, so be prepared to do whatever it takes to gain the experience and skills that will make you stand out to employers. An effective way to gain experience and develop your skills is to pick up freelance projects from various job boards such as PeoplePerHour.com. While projects on these websites aren’t usually well paid, they allow you to develop a portfolio of work, and gain experience of being ‘client facing’ that will impress potential employers.

04. Become independent

Modern schooling often places far too much emphasis on teaching to pass tests in order to meet government targets. This has resulted in many school leavers being dependent on being directed to solve each part of a task in the same way. This dependence is too costly for employers to justify providing a job, as it would cost them more time and money to support you to do your job effectively.

Develop abilities to work independently in your role as a web designer or developer. This includes knowing how to solve problems through research on Google, while also being able to plan your workload to meet deadlines you’ve been assigned. Demonstrating these abilities will give employers the confidence that you can free them from more problems than you create.

05. Be proactive

Another problem that employers seek to avoid is the need to micro manage their employees. Learn to identify where your skills can be applied to the bigger picture, so that whoever you report to can be relieved from planning your time deployment.

Be proactive in developing and refining your skills so that you become more relevant to the work that employers need you for.

This article originally appeared in issue 297 of net, the magazine for professional web designers and developers – offering the latest new web trends, technologies and techniques. Buy net issue 297 here or subscribe to net here.

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Leon Brown

Leon is a freelance web developer and trainer who assists web developers in creating efficient code for projects. He has worked on front-end and server-side web applications, having taught himself to code using an Amstrad computer in the 1990s. Leon has written an extensive selection of tutorials on web design for Web Designer Magazine and .Net, as well as introductions to programming concepts for beginners.