Or How To Find Interesting Jobs If You Have No Idea Where To Start.
The available job openings and requirements vary heavily depending on the exact market you’re in, sometimes down to a specific city. You want to get some intel before starting the hunt so that you can pick a job that will make you happy. Go beyond the basics—enjoy playing a detective to answer the question of “who’s got awesome jobs around here”. While these tips are focused on Web Development and Software Engineering jobs, many of those apply to any field.
We live in a fantastic world in which many people generously share their knowledge with the whole world, and build communities focused on that. If you browse Meetup groups you will most likely find regular events focused on various technologies, programming languages or whole fields of work.
Most of those meetings are organized for free, and include interesting talks and workshops. You get to learn new stuff, but also learn about companies that exist in the area. You will meet new people interested in the same thing as you. This is a great way to see what various companies work on, and what people work for them.
It may not be obvious, but many of those events are organized to attract potential hires—that’s you. If you find a company you’re interested in—go talk to the speakers, see if they are looking for new people. This is one of the best ways to find a great place to work at—you get to see what specific teams work on, how they think, what tooling they use, and whether people working there are someone you’d like to spend most of your days with.
Pro Tip—if you’re a girl, going to a tech meetup can be intimidating. It will feel way more comfortable if you bring a male friend along. Trust me—it just works. And if you’re not a girl, but still feel shy about talking to strangers—bring a friend along.
While most people look for job openings on general websites listing positions in all possible fields, it makes sense to look for more targeted venues. Start by searching for Facebook groups focused on the field in which you’d like to get the job, local for your market (e.g. Front End Developers London). Join that group—frequently that’s one of the first places where people will share information about available positions.
If there’s a specific programming language that you’d like to work with, then search and ask around for communities focused on it. For example if you’re interested in Ruby and would like to work in Madrid, then searching for “Ruby developers Madrid” will get you a link to Madrid Ruby User Group website where you can learn about the meetups, sign up for the mailing group or log in and see if there’s a community forum there.
Try searching for websites with tech job listings in your country—as an example, looking for “developer jobs prague” shows not just generic websites like jobs.cz but also a tech focused website Startup Jobs listing openings in various types of companies—not just startups.
And don’t forget about forums—while they’ve been largely killed off by Facebook in the past years, some of them are still going strong. Searching for terms like “ community ” should help you discover those. Make sure to try both “community” and “user group”.
Search for headhunting agencies and recruiters looking to fill out the type of roles you are thinking of—and then reach out to them. You want to find agencies specializing in the IT market—since they work with multiple companies, they will know a bigger portion of the market than an in-house recruiter for a specific company.
Introduce yourself and explain that you’re looking for a first job as XYZ (fill the job title here) and would like to learn about the state of the job market. Ask if they’d find a few minutes for a Skype call or a coffee.
Recruiters and headhunters usually know the job market in your area well, because they watch it from the inside. Part of their job is making new connections with people just like you so they can grow their pool of possible candidates. Having a chat is a win for both sides. And perhaps they will know about job openings that may be just what you’re looking for.
When you get to the meeting, ask what do companies look for in candidates (with regards to both technical and non-technical skills). What types of companies are out there? Is there some company that may be looking for people with your profile at the moment? Could they advise on what salary you could ask for from employers? Learn from their experience with the market you’re looking to enter.
A great advice I once got was to look up someone doing the job I’d like to be doing, and ask to pick their brain about it. If you’d like to be, say, a front-end developer working with React and living in Berlin, look up a React developer working in Berlin and reach out to them. Explain that you’re starting to look for a job, you don’t have much experience in the market yet, and ask if they’d be kind enough to chat with you for a few minutes.
Most people can be found very easily through social media, so it’s not hard to get a message to someone you don’t know at all. You can ask them similar questions to what you’d ask a recruiter. And perhaps they have a friend working at a company which is looking for new colleagues.
If you know someone working in the field, or met some people on a meetup—ask if they’d have a minute to advise you, too. This is the best way to learn about what’s going on in the real world.
Before you start applying for open positions, it’s good to take a moment and think about the things you are looking for in your next job. Is it the ability to focus on learning some specific technologies, or try out a bunch of latest frameworks and tools? Or do you prefer to focus on work–personal life balance? It’s good to be mindful of pros and cons of particular types of companies.
If you haven’t done this already, it’s time to improve your Google-fu right now (you’ll need this in your job anyway!). The ability to search effectively helps not only with finding solutions to programming problems, but is essential when you’re kicking off a job search.
If there’s a specific position you’re interested in, just type “ jobs ” into the search engine and browse the results. Click around. Try various terms, always go beyond the first page of the results—it makes sense to dig a bit deeper in the results.
This should be one of the basic tools of anyone looking for a job. Glassdoor includes not just job openings, but also information about salaries that have been shared by current and past employees. While you should not take it as set in stone, those salary ranges should help you figure out what people get paid in various roles—sometimes even down to a specific company. It’s really useful to browse those if you have no idea what to expect.
Additionally, Glassdoor includes reviews of various companies. Those definitely have to be taken with a grain of salt—it’s not fair to judge employers based on people who got disappointed and hurt for being let go, but at the same time if it’s a useful research tool to help you get some idea of what the company is about. Unfortunately, those reviews mostly cover larger companies.
If you’re thinking about getting your first job, switching to something more exciting, or you’ve just been sacked because of an economical crisis, researching your target job market is the basic step in the job hunt. Go a bit broader to see what opportunities are hidden beyond generic job posting websites.
P.S. Many thanks to Honza Javorek for his review and suggestions which enriched this post.