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Freelance developers, full-time developers and brand-new-fresh-outta-school-newbie developers all face a similar dilemma at different times in their careers: how the hell do I get a job?

If you’re freelance, you’re going to be constantly looking for new projects throughout your career. If you’re not freelance, you’ll still face this challenge once in a long while. And it’s hardest when you’ve never done it before: How the hell do you get experience if you’ve got no experience?

I’m going to outline a strategy that will help you get lots of work in the long term. It’s not a magic wand, but it’s a paradigm that works.

My Immense, Complex Strategy for Getting Work

Here it is:

  1. Do stuff.
  2. Show it off.
  3. Repeat.

That’s freaking it. There are details naturally, but remembering those 3 as your mantra will work wonders.

In other words, build up your own experience in the form of learning and building things. Then make sure you share it with people as much as possible – friends, classmates, potential employers, and especially the internet.

Step #1: Do stuff.

Constantly keep active, even when you’re not working. This will build up knowledge and experiences which gradually add to your credibility as a professional programmer.

Spend time doing things like the following:

  • Learning up a new technology, framework or tool. Doing demo projects with it.
  • Building websites / apps for fun.
  • Contributing to open source repositories.
  • Going to hackathons or other programming events.
  • Paying projects (if you have them).

You generally want to create things as much as possible. But even when you’re not writing code, you’re generating new experiences that are worthwhile to talk about. That’s where part 2 comes in.

Step #2: Show it off.

Talk about the things you’re doing in every medium possible. This includes things like:

  • Writing on your tech blog.
  • Adding demos or brag-worthy client names to your portfolio.
  • Posting on social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Medium)
  • Posting on other people’s blogs (in comments, guest posts).
  • Having conversations (at programming events, job fairs).
  • Adding to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Adding code to your github profile.
  • (And naturally, applying directly to jobs/gigs as well.)

The coolest thing you’ve ever done is worthless if no one knows about it. However, the more people know about it, the more they can tell other people about it – some of which may hire you.

Even if you’re just blogging about your experiences learning a new technology, or your experiences at a programming event (however frustrating it may have been), chances are someone had the same experience with you and could potentially connect with it. Put it in a blog post, share it around. At the very least, it shows you’re active and interested in what you do.

I once had a tech blog that got almost no traffic, and I barely maintained it. But having it meant that anyone who looked at my resume saw the blog and believed I knew what I was talking about. At the very least, having a few posts written up add to your credibility big time.

Step #3: Repeat (& Profit)

The more you do these 2 things, the more opportunities will open up randomly throughout your career.

This is stuff I’ve been doing in some form throughout my career. And the truth is, eventually it becomes very little work at all. You’ll end up in a random conversation with someone in the same industry, and when they ask what you’ve been up to, you say, “I just finished doing some front-end dev work for CBS Sports.” The next thing you know they’re emailing you the contact info of someone who wants a web application built.

The bottom line

Credibility (and therefore hire-ability) isn’t a one-shot deal; it’s a practice, just like coding is. Just as you should be honing your coding craft regularly, make it a habit to demonstrate what you’re doing regularly.

Even if it’s once a month, a little show and tell will go a long way in terms of getting new work into your hands.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave a reply.

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