What I learned while searching for a junior dev role

 During my final two years of college, I gave everything I had to find a job. My reason was that I was 30 years old, coming from a middle-of-the-road state university, owned a GPA floating around 3.0, and capped out at medium leetcode problems (less than 25 total) - yet being unemployed wasn't an option. I attended career workshops, and conferences to network and speak with hiring panels, and paid for professional resume and job search lessons from a former tech recruiter of over two decades who had retired.

I ended up landing a job before graduation with total comp of $95k in an LCOL area, 30-days of paid time off total, fantastic health (dental and vision), great 401k matching, and completely remote. I understand that is lower than a lot of you and I likely could have gotten better but I was simply trying to get my foot in the door as quickly as possible - I started the week after graduation.

As I was going through that process, I learned a lot from this sub so wanted to try and give back a little by sharing the things I learned. I want to emphasize that this process likely won't work for FAANG companies - I didn't apply to any.

The first thing I wanted to touch on is how much emphasis we all put on resumes. What I learned from speaking with people, and what worked for me, was placing more emphasis on the networking process so that the resume was simply a formality by the time it was seen. To accomplish this, I spent time doing the following things:

- I used sites such as Builtin which is available for Austin, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, LA, NYC, Seattle, and San Fran. Now if you don't live in one of these areas, that is fine as many of them offer or open to remote workers. Go through their listings and just write down the company names that you'd be interested in working for.

- Navigate to the monthly Hacker News job listings (NOT THE JOB BOARDS). Scroll through and find companies you are interested in working for - it doesn't matter at all if they are asking for senior devs, etc. We are just looking to establish a line of communication. Add them all to your list that you started from above.

- Do a search for "top startups in <insert your area>" or "startup funding in <insert your area>". Go through the articles and find any companies you might be interested in working for. The reason for doing this is that top startups or recently funded startups are usually looking for new devs and you might get to them before a job posting is placed - again, we are only looking to open a line of communication. Add them to your list.

- Look through the popular sites, such as TechCrunch (I know, I know, but stick with me here), and do the same thing. Identify companies that are being funded that you would like to work for and add them to your list.

- You can continue doing this with the more common sites such as LinkedIn, but DON'T submit your resume yet. Just add the ones you like to your list.

Now that you have a large list of companies that you are interested in working for and that you can safely assume are at least looking for devs of some level, go to LinkedIn and begin typing the company names into search one at a time. Click on people to see a list of employees and find a hiring manager, CTO / CEO, or even an engineer that you might have something relatable. Is their profile picture of them hiking and you hiking? That's your person. Are they from your hometown or state? that's your person.

I want to make the point again that we don't care if they are hiring for juniors or not. Who knows what will happen once you start talking?

Before messaging them it's important that your LinkedIn is up-to-date and error-free. Seriously, make it perfect. Once that is set, go ahead and shoot them a message.

Don't make it a story and don't make them work - keep it short and sweet but also open-ended. Here is a solid template:


I found your profile after seeing the Software Engineer roles listed on <WHERE DID YOU SEE IT> and wanted to quickly reach out. I am currently a senior at the <YOUR UNIVERSITY> where I will be graduating with a degree in software engineering in <WHAT MONTH DO YOU GRADUATE>. I also <INSERT ANY INTERNSHIPS OR ONE SIDE PROJECT YOU HAVE WORKED ON>.

<ONE SENTENCE ON WHY YOU WANT TO WORK THERE> It would be a dream come true of mine to work for a company such as <THE COMPANY NAME>.

Based on your experience at <THE COMPANY NAME>, can you offer any tips on optimizing my chance of an interview? I appreciate any help you can provide, thanks in advance!


There are a few reasons we are doing this. One, the worst thing they are going to say is no they are not looking for junior devs. Beyond that, they now know who you are which instantly puts you ever so slightly above the people who are just throwing their resume into the submission box and turning around.

Lastly, and this is the most important part, you are doing their job for them. Rather than having to weed through resumes, you have taken their work to them and they can quickly click on your profile for a look and send it off to the next person. So you have opened a line of communication, you have asked an open-ended question, and there is a good chance they learn who you are before you ever submit a resume. You are already ahead of a majority of the other people.

If you end up just receiving a "no we are not hiring juniors" response but end up with feedback, that's a win - take it!

Even if they answer your question and tell you to submit a resume, you are at least placing your needle at the top of the stack.

I did this to a total of 32 companies, had 11 interviews before graduation, and multiple offers with a job lined up two months before my finals.

Now I'm not saying this is the only way or that this will work for everyone but it worked for me and I think is a solid strategy to have in the toolbox when job hunting. I won't cover my resume tips I learned throughout hiring the professional, the multiple panels I went to (two of them used mine as an example to critique), etc. but if you want help, PM me, and I'll be more than happy to.

Hope this helps some of you and best of luck on the search!

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