I was defeated before I even started interviewing. I gave myself a junior software developer title. The defeat was self-imposed.
You’ll seldom see job postings for a junior software developer position. You have to look at it from the company’s perspective — they want the most experienced software developer preferably without providing the most experienced pay.
Experienced developers know that this is a wish list but newer folks are intimidated by it.
When I called myself a junior software developer, I couldn’t help but feel as if the interviewer is doing me a favor and I had nothing to offer. In every interview, I felt like the last kid that’s picked for the volleyball team. I was scrap metal.
The first few interviews went okay but I still felt inferior to positions I was applying to. I sounded meek. It’s as if I was saying “Pretty please sir — take me and I’ll work hard for you”. No one wants desperate.
I woke up one night at 3 am with a persistent thought in my head — stop selling yourself short. You’re a software developer, period.
I realized how I limited myself with the label junior software developer. This wasn’t my first professional job search and I’ve already worked in the software industry for 8 years. There were management skills and social skills I had that other software developers didn’t.
I built a portfolio with two projects using Ruby on Rails. As I learned how to program — I wrote technical blog posts. I was doing things most junior developers didn’t do. Why would I force myself into that label?
I got up that night at 3 am and sat down to eradicate the words junior out of my resume and LinkedIn.
I was a software developer. We’re all learning. If you can put together code, get it working, and deploy it — you’re a software developer.
If you can google / Stack Overflow your coding problems and quickly find solutions — you already do what experienced software developers do on a weekly basis.
That night changed my interviewing routine. By calling myself a software developer and believing that the person interviewing me wasn’t God, I was able to have a legitimate value for value conversation with interviewers that didn’t sound desperate.
It was no longer “please hire me” but rather “What kind of problems do you have / here’s what I can offer to your team / what are you looking for in the candidate for this position”.
It turned into a value for value exchange. That’s where you want to be as someone that’s jumping into this industry or if you’re interviewing for a new software job.
But you might say that you don’t have that kind of confidence.
You can make it. Build a project or two for your portfolio and document how you did that.
Start a blog as you’re learning about software development. As you’re learning new ideas, teach them in your blog posts. If you feel the imposter syndrome, it can be overcome by producing work. If you feel you have nothing original to contribute then you’re overvaluing originality.
The more you create as you learn, the most it will subconsciously convince you that you’re more than just a junior developer. Professionals create.
It’ll be most competitive when you’re trying to break into the software industry as a novice. You don’t have to be the best to stand above your competition. Just strive to be in the top 20% to find that first company to work for.
Your first job will be the hardest to find. Once you get real work experience and continue to market yourself through your blog / LinkedIn, recruiters will be hunting for you.