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12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job

Get our <span>FREE</span> Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Get our FREE Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Find out EXACTLY what you need to do to land your first full-time job as a web developer.

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Wondering if it’s worth getting into web development? Check out these numbers:

  • 121,000 people working as web developers right now in the U.S. alone
  • 20% growth predicted for the industry through 2020*
    *Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • 25,785 web developer job vacancies on Indeed
  • Average salary for a web developer of $87,000

Pretty impressive numbers! But are you thinking… “It’ll be YEARS before I, a tech newbie, can start to dream about a job like that!” Well, think again! You can learn the fundamentals of web development faster than you think. And once you do, you can start looking for junior web developer jobs.

“Junior web developer” is the term commonly used for people starting in the web development industry. But don’t let the tiny-sounding title fool you! Entry-level web developers bring home an average salary of $71,000 and there are 4,869 junior web developer job openings on Indeed as of April 2, 2015!

To get started as a web developer, of course you’ll need these programming languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • jQuery

(You can learn them—and much more more—in the Skillcrush Web Developer Career Blueprint. Hint, hint!)

Then, once you’re armed with those digital super powers, you should also look at getting to know these often-asked-for extras:

But is that enough?? When you’ve got the coding basics and some bonuses down, are you REALLY ready to start your job search? Maybe the idea of trying to get a web developer position probably makes you feel like an imposter, and you’d be less nervous about a full root canal than an interview at a development agency.

It’s understandable. How can you feel confident in a job interview when you aren’t completely sure what all the job requirements actually are, or if you’re really and truly up to the job?

That’s perfectly normal at this point, but you don’t have to stay paralyzed in fear and miss out on your dream career.

You’ve already conquered the hardest part of the process by getting those must-have skills. But if you want to be sure you’re a TOP candidate, there’s plenty you can do to prepare.

Here are 12 ways to get your phone ringing or email box filling up with invites to interviews. Get started with them today. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be a happily-employed developer!

12 must-dos to land your first web developer job

1. Build your own portfolio site

Creating your portfolio is JOB ONE if you want to get a developer job. As Skillcrush instructor and tech consultant Dee Kapila says, “When I hire junior devs, I look for an impressive portfolio.”

Your portfolio is the first thing potential employers will look at when considering you, so it needs to be a real reflection of your skills and yourself.

You can get ideas about what to put in your portfolio in step #2. But, before you can load up your portfolio, you need to code it and launch it on the wonderful World Wide Web.

2. Fill up your portfolio with projects

Now that you’ve got your own site built, it’s time to load it up with all the things. Of course you’ll include any work you’ve done for companies or clients (with their permission). But no need to worry if you haven’t done many—or any!—“real” projects.

Check out How to Build an Impressive Portfolio When You’re New to Tech to find out about the 14 things you can do to build a portfolio that will get you hired, even if you’ve only been coding for months.

3. Do freelance projects

Speaking of projects, a great way to get some for your portfolio is to do some freelancing on the side. It’ll give you the chance to build your experience AND beef up your bank balance while helping you round out your portfolio.

The projects don’t have to be huge ones. You can offer, for example, to re-do the navigation for a local restaurant’s website or to create an HTML newsletter for a charity organization.

And you might consider doing some charity yourself—in the form of pro bono projects. You won’t be bringing home any bacon from them, but they’ll be a great addition to your portfolio, and you can actually make unpaid projects pay off for you in lots of ways that will boost your job search and your career.

4. Put your code on GitHub

Github is the industry-standard for version control, so many companies want to know that you already know how to use this tool. You can prove that AND show off your best code by creating your own Github account and using it as a repository for your projects.

After you get it set up, try to make regular contributions to your GitHub account to show that you’re consistently working on your skills. Even if they’re only for “imaginary” projects, keep your code clean and organized and include clear and concise README documentation so that employers know that you’ll be able to jump right in to collaboratively coding on their teams and projects.

5. Contribute to an open source project

If most of your coding so far has been for your classes, mock projects, or solo gigs, you can also increase your teamwork cred by getting involved in an open source project.

Open source is the term for source code that’s publicly available and can be modified by anyone. And there’s an incredible range of open source projects, including famous ones like Ruby on Rails, Linux, MySQL, and loads of JavaScript frameworks.

Getting involved in open source projects will:

  • Strengthen your development skills
  • Get you hands-on experience working on teams and projects
  • Let you meet and network with other developers

You can look for open source projects of all kinds and sizes on Explore GitHub. And once you find a project you’re interested in and have explored it more, don’t be afraid to jump in and help! Some easy first steps you can take are reporting bugs, helping prioritize issues, beta testing, working on the project’s website, or improving documentation.

6. Participate in a hackathon

You can’t turn around nowadays without bumping into a hackathon! And they’re a fun and exciting way to get to know people with the same interests, tackle interesting problems, test your coding skills, learn from others, and maybe win prizes like gift cards, gear, trips, and CASH! And, oh yeah. There’s that thing of making you look good when you’re looking for developer jobs…At a hackathon, you’ll end up coding on a team, and if you’ve been learning to code on your own, proving you can hack it (get it?) with a team of coders makes you a lot more appealing to hiring managers at web development agencies.

To find hackathons near you or online, try searching sites like:

And remember to keep your eye out at the event for sponsors and recruiters. Many a web developer has gotten noticed at a hackathon and offered a job right on the spot!

7. Meet techies online and IRL

In addition to fame and glory, hopefully you’ll also get contacts in tech from those hackathons, but don’t let the networking stop there. Keep reaching out and learning more about the industry by meeting people online and in person.

The easiest way to do this is through tech meetup groups. Almost everyone city has them, and, if yours doesn’t, you can set up your own. Just pick the focus, find a place (even a coffee shop or local park will do!), and spread the word.

Or, if you’re really not in a location that lets you get together with other techies, look for communities online. Answer questions on Stack Overflow, comment on Reddit threads related to development, or help out on the WordPress.org forum.

Whether you meet in person or on the Internet, you’ll be expanding your horizons and getting to know people who can turn out to be your future co-workers or superiors.

8. Follow industry news

To keep from freezing up right at the small talk phase when you meet all those techies OR during your first web developer job interview (!), start keeping up with what’s happening in tech.

You don’t need to be an expert on every story or topic out there. Just get to know what’s hot and what’s happening. And that’s beyond easy to do: You can read blogs or tech news sites over breakfast, listen to podcasts when you’re walking your dog, or scan Twitter lists while you’re waiting in line at the store.

9. Learn more!

Besides keeping up on the news, you should also keep up with learning new skills and tools of the trade. As a web developer, knowing these will make you that much more in-demand.

A few that are most requested are:

  • CSS preprocessors like Sass or Less
  • Frameworks like Backbone.js, Angular.js, or Node.js, etc. or Ruby on Rails
  • A CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress

And you can explore the wonderful world of Ruby through a number of resources or try the WordPress Developer Blueprint to learn the world’s most popular CMS.

10. Refine your resume

Even though your portfolio is where you’ll show off your skills, a lot of companies still ask for resumes and use them to “weed out” candidates. That means yours needs to be as polished and professional as your portfolio if you want to get noticed AND hired.

Of course you’ll want to update the information on your resume to fit web development. Also make sure you highlight your core skills, play up any tech-related experience, and give specific details to prove your achievements and strengths.

Try out the tips in “15 Steps for Updating Your Resume” to give it a good general refresh.

11. Check out the jobs

Now that you’ve made the extra effort with these must-haves, it’s time to dive into some actual job listings. Start by just searching for “junior web developer” and not worrying about the company or the location. The idea is for you to see what employers are looking for and what kind of options are available for you in general.

Keep in mind that job ads tend to list more (sometimes WAY more!) requirements and “nice-to-haves” than are really expected from candidates. Never hurts to ask, right?! Don’t let this discourage you though. If you can handle most of what they’re looking for, you’ll probably be at least considered for the role.

Once you’ve gotten a feel for what’s out there, go ahead and send out your resume for some jobs you’re really interested in. Be realistic but don’t be shy. Nobody’s going to come knocking on your door with a web dev position in hand. You have to put yourself out there.

And don’t forget the good ol’ grapevine! Let all your friends, family, neighbors, and—of course—hackathon/meet-up/online friends know that you’re actively looking. You never know who has a friend who has a friend who knows just the job for you.

12. Interview for a job – even if you’re not sure you’re ready

When that shiny happy moment happens and you’re asked to go for an interview, go for it! THIS is the moment you’ve been waiting for! You can never be 100% prepared for any interview, but you know how hard you’ve worked for this so show them what you’ve got.

In Dee’s case, for example, she asks junior dev candidates to “whiteboard wireframes as part of the interview to see how they dealt with pressure and to gauge their thought process.”

And Skillcrush lead developer Emily Davis looks for “a candidate’s ability to break down a problem into small pieces that can be worked through step-by-step. This means she is likely able to identify the root cause of an issue and work from there, rather than having little or no idea where to start.”

No matter how it goes, you’ll have survived that nerve-wracking first interview, which will make the next one that much easier. Plus you’ll have a much better idea of what future interviews will be like and what you need to work on for them. And maybe not surprisingly, there’s no better preparation for a job interview than a job interview. In no time at all, instead of just applying for junior web developer positions, you’ll be accepting your first one!

Get our <span>FREE</span> Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Get our FREE Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job

Find out EXACTLY what you need to do to land your first full-time job as a web developer.

You can unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. We won't use your email address for anything else, promise!

Kelli Smith

Kelli handles customer support here at Skillcrush – plus she's an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She's also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer in the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves tech podcasts, cute Corgi photos and, most of all, catalan-style line dancing – as a true Texan living in Finland would!

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      • zipov Replied

        Dude, HTML literally stands for ‘Hypertext Markup Language’.

  1. swalsh Replied

    “But don’t let the tiny-sounding title fool you! Entry-level web developers…” also have to have the equivalent of multiple years of working experience. Is what I actually gather from every similar post I see on this as well as some in the industry I approached when trying to see if webdev would be a feasible career shift. I was essentially told “Good luck buddy but probably wont work out”

  2. Anwer Ashif Replied

    I have been working as freelancer web developer on Fiverr. It’s a pleasure hearing about Hackathon and contribution to open source. I am sure I should contribute there in early age.

  3. Pravakar Mandal Replied

    few years ago..when i started to learn about software engineeering i was totaly unable to understand about the codes.but when time passed then something like curiosity about the techs and how it’s working across the world.then i started to learn about web developing and i am still new for that position and wanna go further and into the depth of web development.guys your’s most valuable thoughts and articles makes me motivated and also inspires myself to do something better.thnxxx to all.

  4. Lmadri123 Replied

    it’s a cool article !! you give me more motivation ^^

    • UroiT Replied

      javascript is hard and i dont know how to make ecommerce yet

  5. Mahbub bakth Ansary Replied

    Really it saves me.I was really worried about my career…But it gives me a lots inspiration to be started..

  6. Paschal Replied

    This article is cool and it has really lifted by spirit today. I am totally new to web development and I look forward to a bright future in this. We are making the world a better place.

  7. jessica Replied

    This blog explains the details of most popular technological details. This helps to learn about what are all the different method is there. And the working methods all of that are explained here. Informative blog.

  8. Yo momma Replied

    $71K per year? LOL More like $13 an hour to start if you’re lucky to get picked among a cast of thousands applying for the same job!

  9. Ryan Replied

    I didn’t do most of this stuff and I’m a Programmer Analyst now making pretty good money.

    I did write code for fun throughout my child hood, and was pretty savy before entering college, but I hadn’t really shown anything to anyone.

    What I had going for me was I could talk to the talk, and I could back it up with in person demonstrations, or face to face’s with their tech leads.

    What I did was I worked in a factory while going to an online college. I lived at home with my parents while working at the factory and finishing college. When I completed the college (near end of degree) I emailed a local development business (consultant company) about hiring me as a paid intern. They decided to do it and brought me on at $10 an hour.

    They hired me full time 3 months later at 37k.

    I worked there 3.5 years and moved on to another company making 50k. I worked there 2 years and moved on again making a lot more than that %50+ more money.

    I started the internship when I was 26, I’m now 32.

    I don’t have a blog, any open source code, no portfolio, no freelance work, never been to a hackathon, and my resume is only 1 page with basic skills on it and that’s it.

    What I do have is a StackOverflow.com profile with decent rep points where I’ve answered a lot of peoples questions. I also have a linkedin profile with some endorsed skills.

    Aside from experience, that’s about it.

    This process has allowed me to get where I want to be without devoting my life to it. I still have a personal life, and free time galore. I’m not up till the crack of dawn everyday blogging or checking in to open source repositories just to stay on my game.

    The job I have now allows me to take training courses on the clock, or do research on a new platform on the clock, so I’m at a place now where I enjoy going to work everyday, and I can look forward to relaxing and setting my work down when I get home.

    • faarah Replied

      can you please refer me to any company which hire internees? I just want to get some experience in web development no matter about the pay

    • Anonymous Replied

      Wow am really new in devs…. I think am beginning to enjoy and like web developing… 

    • Eric Replied

      I agree, Sam I did none of this just a good rep from the Company i worked for and school. And i am in the same situation as you.

  10. Cheap Web Design UK Replied

    Thank you so much for sharing valuable information. Learned a lot from this article. Thanks again.

  11. Shannon A Replied

    Fantastic article. Chalk full of great advice! Thanks, Kelli!

  12. Sens Hart Replied

    I call everyone dude. :) Your article is really helpful.

    • Cameron Chapman Replied

      I call everyone (and sometimes inanimate objects) dude, too! :)

  13. Denise Replied

    Completely left out prepping for the technical interview. That’s a huge aspect of it imo.

  14. utweb Replied

    Great article, that was really helpful. I recently started learning html and css. Some of my friends say that I should learn both design and development, sort of a hybrid. Also I don’t have degree. Need help?

  15. Krista Replied

    Great information.  I very much appreciate it.  That said, the “Explore Github” link is broken.

    • Kelli Orrela Replied

      Thanks so much, Krista! The link to Explore Github is working again now. :)

  16. michigancreative Replied

    I read your blog great information about career success…

  17. pete66 Replied

    Skillcrush.com is a practical-‘Rise and shine’ opportunity to all things IT.

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