How to land a job in tech as a Junior Developer during darker times.

Disclaimer: Everything you will read below, is my own humble opinion. I don’t claim to be an expert in any kind. I also don’t have any direct referrals to companies or magical opportunities.

While I am writing this text, very bad things are happening, more or less, all around the world. I don’t want to expand on this but if you’re reading this a long time after I wrote it, then look it up; it’s a shitty period and it has affected the job market severely. This is my 12th year in the tech industry and it’s the worst I’ve seen. I happen to have quite many people around me who are in the early stages of their careers in tech and they all find it tough to land a job as Junior Developers. I remember very well how it felt when I was in that position and I don’t envy them at all. In order to help, I decided to wrote down a few practical steps, that helped me land my first job and hopefully could help others as well.

Setting up the stage

You have just completed your studies and you are now proud to call yourself a Junior Developer. Backend, Frontend, Fullstack, whatever; it makes no difference in this context. You start looking for a job, which might be your first or not and everything you find (which is significantly less compared to 3 years ago) requires at least 3 years of working experience. You’re 3 years short in that case, so you keep searching. Sooner or later, you can’t find anything and desperation starts to flood your mind.

Step 0

Don’t panic” is what everyone says but I won’t. What I urge you to do, is that before letting panic flood you, you should ask yourself the following questions which will very much define the next steps:

  1. What is your current situation? If you desperately need an(y) income e.g. because you have family members who depend on your income, then if I were you, I would first make sure that I have a plan B, a job I am certain I can fall back to in case my plan A fails. What did you do before, that you can do again just to bring bread on the table? Call your previous employers and explain them the situation, ask if you’d be welcome back at least for a short period (until you land your dream job). Ask your parents if you can move back to your old child room for a while. Looking for your dream job, is actually kind of a luxury and to be able to afford it, you have to first make sure that you have a safety net. If you don’t have one, then be aware that you’re taking a risk and the downside of it can be very troublesome.
  2. How long time do you want to invest in job hunting? I guess that you don’t want to be searching eternally. You surely don’t want to have a 12-month-long gap in your CV and you don’t want to eat up all your savings either. You need to frame your job hunting within a time window, during which you give it all your energy and there are two outcomes. Either you succeed in landing the job you’re looking for, or you fail and then you fall back to plan B. Do not underestimate the psychological effect of this either! It is important for yourself as well as for others around you who keep asking “how’s it going”. Don’t forget that stress comes from not knowing how to handle a situation. By time-framing your job hunt you know exactly when it will end, one way or another.
  3. Geographical restrictions, remote/hybrid working, commuting. Those are factors that largely affect the realm of possibilities and the earlier you are in your job hunt, the more picky you can afford to be. Obviously, if there’s an employer 10 meters from your door, it would be ideal, but if you’ve spent 2 months without success, then maybe you should start looking a bit further away as well.

Step 1

Sit down, organize your thoughts and create a weekly/biweekly plan. Job hunting is a project and all projects have a start and an end. I take for granted that you have allocated the necessary time to write a CV that reflects your profile and that your LinkedIn/Github/whatever profiles are in order. So, having those in place, you can start with something like that:

  1. Monday: Search for companies that match your criteria (geographical, technical, cultural). Aim for a maximum of 10 companies, as it will be hard to keep track of them if you start with more than that.

    For each one of those:
    • Check if they have published any vacancies that match your profile. If yes then prioritize those higher. Even if they are looking for people with more experience than you, try to get in touch, you never now who will be amazed by your profile.
    • Identify a couple of key people to contact, hiring managers, CTOs (in companies of <20 people), tech leads. I recommend contacting those instead of sending a random email to an email that’s probably neglected. You need that human contact, even if they delegate you to their “drop in form”, you want to have spoken with someone.
    • Try to gather and understand as much information as possible about that company. First of all, this is important as you don’t want to end up somewhere that’s not suitable for you, secondly, you don’t want to waste nobody’s time if you know already that you’re not a good match.
    • Write down all the information you gathered in an excel file, something like that:

If you allocate ~45 minutes per company, then 10 companies give you a full working day.

Step 2

It’s time for action! Yesterday you planned your week so for the coming three days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, your job is to establish contact with those companies. Your tactic there should be to make as big an impact as possible from the very first contact. Remember that details matter and first impressions last. Being Junior is not a defect, it’s a super power. As a junior developer, you are formable, eager to learn and supposedly more affordable. Do not underestimate yourself and your skillset. Here are some tips.

  • Most of the rejections people get occur without even having an interview. Your first goal is an interview and when demand is low and supply is high, then you need to stand out, so do what most people don’t! Call them, yes call them, use your voice and talk. Say something like “Hello, my name is Nikos and I came across your company. I have a strong feeling that I would be a great match to [vacancy] and I would be more than happy to pass by and submit my CV”. You want to come as close to offering them a first impression of you. This is rather unusual, as most people operate exclusively be email but I can’t believe that someone would be negative to meeting someone. If they say no, then ask if you can email your CV instead. It’s not bad at all, but then you rely on the company allocating time to you, having no other information about you. It’s not impossible that this bears fruit, but I wouldn’t hope much.
  • After your first contact, you have 3 options:
    • The good: They like you and want to know more about you. Awesome! Write it down in your notes and prepare for your next move.
    • The bad: They reject you. Ok fine, but don’t just say “thank you, next”, try to get some real feedback. Feedback is extremely valuable and will help you increase your applications exponentially.
      • Was it because they don’t like your profile? “Oh, I understand, could you please advice me as what I can improve in my profile so that I become a more attractive candidate?” Write down whatever they tell you, you’ll need it for your next step.
      • Was it because they have no vacancies? “I fully respect this, if you had one, would I be given a shot, is there anything I could have done differently?”. Write down their feedback.
    • The ugly: They ghost you. We are all humans and to err is human but I would note that company with a red flag. Ghosting is unacceptable and I would not want to work for such an organization.

Step 3

It’s Friday, time to consume and process the feedback you got throughout the week. Sit down and go through your notes. Do you have any second/third meetings planned? Start preparing for those. Did you get any advice about a framework/technology you didn’t know? Maybe something fun for the weekend? Put those in your schedule as well.


Week after week, you will get more and more contact with more and more companies. The goal of the process is to land a job but until reaching that goal, you will learn so much and increase your network reach even more. You need to understand that landing a job is the process of connecting a need for some skillset with the supply of that skillset. To achieve you have to identify who needs that skillset, and inform them that you possess it. I am convinced that this plan is a great way to get through the process and achieve the goal, without losing your cool or being overwhelmed during the process.

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