Entry level Java developers and career changers get caught in the vicious cycle where
“you can’t get a job without some hands-on experience, but the employers are not keen to hire you without some experience“.
Employers are looking for entry level developers who can start contributing from the day they join. This does not mean that employers are not going to provide you training and support, but rather looking for skills outside academic qualifications like — working independently, quick learner, passion for the chosen profession, understanding of the industry, ability to communicate your thoughts/capabilities and some much needed” hands-on experience“. There is no other magic formula. Most employers don’t care where you got that experience from.
So, if you are stuck in this vicious cycle, the key is to get some experience to break this cycle via self-taught projects, open-source contribution, and volunteer work in Java (e.g. charity organizations and local community projects). It does not matter what avenue you take, and every experience counts. You need to demonstrate your passion & commitment with the hands-on work. Here are some step by step guide to get the ball rolling.
Things that do not make a real difference in securing a job
- Thinking that piling up of your certifications can help.
- Thinking that a post-graduate qualification can increase your chances.
- Thinking that reading a Java book from cover to cover can help. It is very important to learn the fundamentals, but mix learning the fundamentals with gaining the much needed hands-on experience. Can you drive a car by just learning how the controls work?
3 Things you should do to make a break as a Java developer
#1. Getting the much needed hands-on experience
Only way to learn to drive a car is by getting behind the wheels. 7 Tips and a road map to become a self-taught Java developer.
#2. Improving your resume writing, job hunting & networking skills
- Invest in improving your job hunting skills encompassing interviewing, networking, and resume writing skills.
- Keep applying for jobs via both published & hidden job markets. You need to tap into the hidden market via your network, online presence, Java job forums, cold calling, etc.
- Keep enhancing your hands-on experience whilst applying for work.
#3. Improving your job interview skills
Some interview Q&As are very popular and not getting them right can cost you the opportunity to get short-listed after a phone screening or an initial face-to-face interview. During the early stages of my Java career I was able to impress my prospective employers with better interview performances than my competitors who were a lot more experienced than I was. It really pays off to prepare for your job interviews.
Finding a work is a full-time job
All the above 3 points should go hand-in-hand. Finding an entry level Java developer job itself a full-time job where you have the 40 hours a week work cut out. Regularly review your progress, and fine tune your approach. Sometimes you may require a 360 degree turn in your job hunting approach
#1. Shift from piling up the certifications to gaining much needed hands-on experience via voluntary work & open-source projects contribution.
#2. Shift from reading Java books from cover to cover to creating self-taught Java projects published & shared via Git Hub.
#3. Shift from sending the same resume to creating well targeted and standout resumes that have quantifiable experience & accomplishments. Resume writing know-hows with sample Java resumes.
#4. Shifting your job hunting from 2 hours a day to a 8 hours a day by tapping more into the hidden job market via networking. 7 job hunting avenues that will give you a better chance of securing your next IT job.
It is really important to do variety of things to keep it interesting and keep you motivated. It is easy to lose motivation. Share your experience with your fellow entry level Java developers. It is vital that you keep applying for a paid job whilst working on self-taught projects, voluntary work, open-source contribution, job hunting, resume writing, networking & interviewing skills.