Getting a job in technology is hard. Do you want to be a great coder at a great company? Are you willing to do the hours necessary to be a real programmer? Do you want advice that is not: “Create a GITHUB Account”. Read on!
- Creating a GitHub account is not a good path, alone. Most code on GitHub Sucks. And even the good code Sucks. What do I mean by sucks? The code is written by people with no professional standards just doing what it takes to get bare minimum done to get the task done. This isn’t bad, that is what GitHub is for (well other than world-wide collaboration and the good of humanity in advancing free code I mean). But don’t expect code on GitHub to stand-alone. If you spend enough time to do so then you are selling yourself short in other areas.
- Psychological Screens are not proven science. Want a good way to know if you should run from a company? “We require all prospective employees to take a pysch screen”. These tests are not based on legitimate peer-reviewed research and offer nothing to a company. Want to know if a company is legitimate in its approach to testing? Decline the test. Declining a test is called non-responsive. If a company is only using a Psychological Screen for informational and non-judgement purposes a decline would not disqualify you. Instead of allowing a company the privilege of disqualifying you for who you are, in my opinion the most offensive of all hiring practices, disqualify the company. They just saved you the effort!
- Coding Tests are not much better. What do I mean? Let me tell you a secret about my days in the 90’s. I was asked to take a coding test for VB6. It is a secret because, please don’t tell anyone I know VB6! I scored 96th percentile. I didn’t get the job. I took a screen for C# 2.0 to a tune of 93rd percentile. I didn’t get the job. I took a secret job application screen that required deciphering a puzzle, uploading secret code to a secret place, and turning clock-wise during a full moon for the privilege of getting a “special interview” I didn’t get the special interview. There are a lot more examples but instead let me share a counter. I once got into a hiring manager about the existence of interfaces in C++. He hired me. I am not saying don’t take coding tests, especially for a coding job, but don’t bank your job search on coding tests. Passing a code test is good but is not the guarantee of a job.
- Knowing your Shit. I once was in a mediocre interview where I was to replace a recently terminated technical lead for a few months while the company searched for full-time replacement. The interview didn’t go well. I was not a fit. No big deal. On the way out, through pleasantries, production went down. I overheard the error message and offered to fix the problem before I left. Five minutes of fixes later (this is a true story) I left with an offer in hand instead of just a thank you. Have you ever wondered why non-technical people refer to certain programmers as arrogant assholes? Knowing your shit comes with absolute and unrivaled confidence in technique that is not arrogance but honesty. I have met a lot of these people that have been described negatively and they are all the most humble, inquiring, and helpful individuals. When you ask them about their domain, however, they answer with absolute certainty and instantly.
- Make Friends. Seriously. So many of my programmer friends only call me or want to hang out when they need a job. Make legitimate friends. Hang out with them. Do things together. Have fun and enjoy life. Have passionate conversations about esoteric subjects that know one else in the world cares. Develop a legitimate relationship. Be a friend! People love to work with their friends. How amazing would your workday be if you spend all day chillling with your buddies to fun and exciting work? Well this only happens if you develop amazing friendships. Friends call each other when the work comes up. My last several corporate contracts have all come from friends and we have an amazing time working together because we just enjoy each others company. Just don’t be that person that only calls up friends when you need work. I get it, your friend gets it, but it just isn’t fair to only care about people when they can do something for you.
- Say No but Not Too Many No’s. Doctor Jordan Peterson suggest having a job is crucially important, especially for young men. In our culture Men, without work, often feel purposeless. Finding a job is an important part of being a whole person. So, if you are out of working find a job! But not just any job. If you are an amazing programmer that puts out insanely capable cloud software working at McDonalds is not for you. With that said there are hundreds of low-paying, in-field opportunities you can get to establish yourself while you are working. Having a job builds our self-confidence and self-esteem. Often, however, as a job seeker we may say no to too many good opportunities to be our entire selves. Look past the money, look past the career: you are a social being and you are important. Get a job, find yourself, then find your real job.
- Don’t Lower Yourself. I don’t mean don’t take a lower-level position. I mean don’t change who you are or the respect you deserve as a person just to get a job. In fact, run away from recruiters that demand salary up-front, H.R. Agents that demand psychometric, any job that requires a large number of hoops. Why? Isn’t an opportunity an opportunity? Let me pose a question: if you humiliate yourself for a job and still don’t get the job how will you feel then? Don’t lower yourself. Be yourself and find the job that respects you as a valuable person. Find the job that respects you as a human being that is deserving of a place in our society.