How to Optimize Your Time in the Developer Job Search

When you are looking for your first job as a developer, there is one thing you can never get enough of. You have a limited amount of time each day to find and apply for jobs, build your network, and keep your skills sharp. You’ll want to use your time wisely, but it’s usually not clear what that looks like.

What can you do to find out? Should you focus on hard work? Or working smart? Answer: You absolutely need to do both.

There’s a common reason why most people don’t take this approach: It’s a lot easier said than done. Think about it. Would you rather spend your time today assessing what and why you’re doing it wrong, or working head-down to do as much as possible?

It’s easy to get into a routine based on what you initially thought is not the case.

It’s hard to evaluate your progress without getting defensive, but adjusting your strategy as you move forward is critical to your success. Here is a story from my past that will help illustrate my point.

I was a sophomore in college looking for my first co-op (or 6 month long internship). We had a class that prepared us with pointers to the process and what to expect. I started applying to various companies, and a handful of people reached out to me to schedule an interview. In total, I went on six or seven interviews. Everyone turned me down. But in response, I just kept on doing my thing. Even though most of my friends had already gotten their internships, I was relatively unconcerned. Until I got an email from the school counselor about scheduling a meeting.

When we met, he started by asking me a super direct question:

Ken, what are you doing wrong?

I thought for a moment and I replied with something like this:

I’m not really doing anything wrong… Not that I know, anyway.

He continued, asking me a series of questions and discovering the two main reasons for my troubles.

  • First, I was applying for all the wrong jobs.
  • another, I was terrible at interviews.

I was applying to positions that seemed lucrative and exciting. This included places like video game companies that wanted to hire more experienced developers for second or third internships. The position looked super compelling, but I was competing against developers who already had a lot of experience. I was competing outside my league. My counselor showed me examples of job listings that matched my level of experience. He pointed to specific people and suggested that I apply to them. They were far less attractive than the people I was known for.

Then he gave me a quick mock interview.

Let’s do a quick exercise. If I were an interviewer and asked about your biggest weakness, what would you say?

I forget what I talked about, but I remember being very candid and a very harsh critic of myself.

You’re so honest, Ken. You need to show yourself in the best possible light. You should do everything possible to demonstrate why you are great candidate, You don’t need to go deep about your flaws; Look for ways to turn it into an opportunity to talk about something you’re good at.

I went home and applied for the positions suggested by my advisor. I did a few more interviews, and got a few job offers as well. I accepted my first job in the field as a developer helping other developers testing, ensuring that the product the team was building was working. In no time, I started working on the main product, writing a lot of code every day.

At times, going on autopilot can feel more comfortable and effective than taking a step back and finding out whether what you’re doing is actually working.

In our meeting, Mark asked me some really tough questions, which got me thinking about what I was doing and felt like I needed to radically change things. The job search process can be daunting, but to be successful all you have to do is zoom out, reflect on what you’re doing, and try to learn from the process. Unless you work smartly, your hard work will not pay off. And if you only work hard, you’ll never know how to work smart.

Here are 4 questions you can ask yourself about how you are using your time:

How have you become a better developer in the past week?

You must continually hones your craft and become a better developer. If you focus all your energy on the job search and none really on coding, you are naturally headed in the opposite direction. It’s a terrifying feeling when you’re asked a question in an interview that you would have been able to answer a few weeks ago if you hadn’t neglected to spend time doing the work you really care about. Make sure you are headed in the right direction on all accounts.

What did you learn about the job search process over the past week?

At the end of the day, the process is what matters. Once you learn how to navigate the job market, you may have learned the most valuable lesson. It’s like coding in that you can only learn by jumping in the deep end and actually trying it.

What are you going to do differently in the coming week?

The only way to learn more about the job search process is to try different things. When you’re not making the progress you expect, try new things, such as:

  • Applying for positions that deal with programming languages ​​you don’t know. Most hiring managers care more about programming experience in general and a never-changing foundation!
  • Using different methods to source available jobs. Mix everything together—from people you meet at coding events to traditional job listings and your network. Always use multiple approaches at once and create a strategy for managing your job search funnel.

Finally, when you find yourself in trouble, don’t hesitate to ask tough questions:

What would you be doing differently to make the process easier or better?

For me, it was honestly facing that question and really understanding it that landed me in my first position as a developer. I hope asking a similar question can help you too.