So hard to get a job

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by timmillwood, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 7, 2006
    Why is it so hard to get my first web development job.

    I left uni 6 months ago and im struggling to get a full time php web developer job. I have sent of loads of applications and had many interviews but I dont have enough experience.

    I am working part time for friends, family and people I come into contact with updating and developing web sites but still no luck.

    How long did it take you to get a job once you left uni?
  2. Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    You are probably finding it hard as the market is stuffed with similar people. Is PHP all you can do? I'd be expecting people to bring HTML, Javascript and SQL skills as a minimum as well. Perhaps you need to widen your horizons to more general development roles...
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 7, 2006
    Well of course I can do HTML, you cant do any web development these days without HTML and CSS.

    I also know 100% if SQL because that goes hand in hand with PHP.

    I have studied almost every language under the sun in uni, but haven't used them much.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    If its any consolation, every single person in the workforce today was once where you are. I recall my first "computer" job, I volunteered to work for free just to show that I could do the job and within a week, I was hired.

    Keep in mind that applying for a posted job puts you in competition with anyone else that applies for that job. As well, when its a posted position, you are often dealing with HR, who focus on experience and tools listed, and don't often look beyond that, as they don't necessarily understand the technology. However, there is lots of work out there, so you need to be creative in finding the work that needs to be done.

    For example, make a list of 10 companies in town that you would like to work for. Take a look at their websites, and send them an email stating your review of their site and how you could make it better. Offer to work on a contract basis. This way, they don't have to hire you until they can see what you can do, and you can get to know them a bit too before taking the plunge.

    All the best..
  5. macrumors regular


    Sep 14, 2007
    Texas, USA
    To get on the ladder when I first started, I did sites for free to build up a portfolio.

    You could also look at contract work which would get you in. Either apply yourself or use an agency.
  6. macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    There is also the intern route where you will probably have to get an entirely other job to support yourself, but around here there are also at least paid internships. We work your ass off for less than what we'd normally pay, in turn you get experience and we decide if we want to hire you in the end. ;)
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 7, 2006
    Well i am currently working on many web sites locally but many of them are free, cheap or small so dont pay my mortgage or show off my talents well.

    My uni have from placements (internships) starting in Jan so I hope to get a good one.
  8. jng
    macrumors 65816


    Apr 6, 2007
    I agree, anybody can be a developer and worse, portfolios can't show off coding skills as well (compared to designers).

    Like somebody else said, you need to bring something else to the table, not just HTML and CSS. That's standard.

    Good luck with finding an internship through your Uni.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2005
  10. macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2007
    Interesting thread.

    Part of the problem is the industry. There are a ton of designers and designer wannabes.

    The other issue is that the advantage is with the corporate world out there. Look at the previous responses. Everyone is doing websites for FREE. Go to any big city Craigslist page and you will notice an ugly fact: there are a ton of firms and individuals looking for experienced web design. They need this and they need that. They need creativity and they need custom apps. They need it done by Friday. But what about the fees they are willing to pay? This is where you usually read "no pay but this will be great for your portfolio", "you will receive credit on the website", "this may lead to paying jobs", "this will be fun but its not a paying gig" or "$10 per hour" etc, etc.

    I know it is hard to break into professional design, but the collective weight of everyone giving their work away just lowers the watermark for the profession as a whole. Its the same thing with photography. (I do both web design and photography professionally.) Everywhere you look there are people looking for "talented wedding photographers" who will provide six hours of wedding coverage and hand over all the images on a DVD for the mere thrill that it "will be great for your portfolio."

    Its just one of the catch-22 facts about working in a creative profession. You don't see people who need a root canal done looking for a "qualified dentist willing to provide root canal surgery for free - great exposure for your practice..."
  11. macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2007
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    Do alot of web pages for friends, family and small businesses in your area - and be sure to screen capture each page, format nicely and place on your own web page complete wirth resume' and screen snapshots.

    Then add brief comments under each snapshot explaining the technology involved, i.e. if DHMTL was used, or AJAX, or this one has a MySQL database you created on the back end, etc. Don't just list links - put borders, shading, change perspective and create a PORTFOLIO of sites, online and offline, and include the link in your hardcopy resume'.

    Purchase a VPS for $45.00/month and learn Linux, setup your own web server and hosts, install PHP, learn the back end tells interviewers you know more than just how a web page looks, but how it really works. Include all this in your resume'.

    Then during interviews, you got stuff to talk about beyond what you've talked about already, just your skills. The good interviewer is seeing how you're selling yourself, not just comparing skills with another candidate. The bad interviewer couldn't care less and you don't want to work there anyway.

    Use the interview process as your position of strength, talk about your sites and what technologies they use, which is telling them your skills, but not in the same way 1,000,000 other candidates told them. STAND OUT.

  12. macrumors 6502


    Sep 13, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Are you looking for a design or development position? If the latter, how are your Java servlet and JSP skills? They'll help you get a foot in the door.

    Although RoR is making some head-way, serious industry web apps are written using Java on the backend rather than PHP. (Yeah, I know a lot of people will disagree -- but wishful thinking doesn't change reality).
  13. macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    I tried the whole "helping people out" thing but companies generally didn't care. A friend/family member may hire you as a favor, not based on talent.

    They look for companies you have actually worked for PAY.

    You'll need to do some stuff for small businesses with formal pay if you want to start moving up the ladder...
  14. macrumors 68000


    May 6, 2002
    Brooklyn, NYC
    gotta wonder; why not just work for yourself? you can charge what you want/deserve, be your own boss, work from home and it's a hell of a lot more rewarding. being part of a design firm just means you earn a steady wage while making your boss rich. working in-house just means you're going to be working on the same website for the rest of your career. why not BE the boss? you don't need giant corporate accounts to make a nice living.

    there's plenty of room for everyone to make money. start locally, and better yet, FIND A NICHE. be the "go to" guy for one thing and you'll always have work. pick a customer market you like. start building or re-building sites for those kinds of companies. build a reputation as the "if you're a dentist who needs a website then timmillwood is the guy you want" guy. make bakery websites, boat yard sites, christmas tree farm sites. whatever you can to get started somehow. think hard about who you know; SOMEONE needs a site that you can build.

    as someone who has just gone back to the daily grind after 5 happy years of freelancing, i am seriously feeling the drag and wanting more everyday to go back to working solo. i was forced into it because of a sudden move by every day when i get home from work i spend a few hours preparing to build my own business back up and break free.

    you have nothing to lose; TRY IT WHILE YOU'RE STILL YOUNG!!! :)
  15. macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2005
    I agree with the guy a couple posts above me. They want to see that you were chosen and paid. Personally, I'm still in high school, and I am doing PHP/SQL stuff for companies that are important in the area. Granted, I got my foot in the door mainly through people I know, but you can always cold-call a company and see what they say.

    You could even offer to make the website, and show it to them. If they don't like it, they don't have to pay for it. The risk for them is out of the way, and you might just get paid.
  16. macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    The design market is flooded. It is a great market to get into, but there are a lot of people with lot of experience and it will be rather tough to get your foot in the door.

    Sadly, this is why I got out of it. I am now doing Photolithography engineering. Not as fun, but I get to play with really big machines.:)
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 7, 2006
    I had a phone call today "I would like to offer you the job, BUT we dont know if we need the position any more, will let you know tomorrow"

    I get the job, now I am being made redundant, all in one phone call.
  18. macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    This is the sad nature of the industry, there are plenty of good designers, plenty of wannabes and plenty of sharks out there.In my experience getting a job was the easy part, but finding a company that mirrored my own values and direction that I wanted my career direction to be I found very tough.

    It's a matter of approaching the companies where you want to be and establishing a relationship with them, I'm not saying working for them for nothing but trying to find out the person and skills they are looking for in employees and trying to prove to them that you have what they need/want.
    90% of all jobs are not advertised and most companies will hire people who they know a little bit about them.

    When I left university I got very frustrated in looking for working and doing short term contracts so I did a very stupid thing and joined the Air Force as an Imagery Intelligence Officer (4 of the worse years of my life). Getting into any industry is hardwork but keep at and you'll find the perfect position, I'm now designing broadcast weather graphics and happy in my job it just takes time and patients.
  19. macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    Speaking as someone that hires designers/coders on a frequent basis as part of my own job, I would add the following;

    - PHP is absolutely the worst language to have as your primary skill - every man and his dog is doing it, and the offshore guys do it reasonably well for a pittance. You'll find it very hard to earn a living from just doing that.

    - Choose another language and learn it - I would recommend something like Coldfusion, which is pretty easy to pick up but is also a very powerful language. CF coders are in demand, and you can command a reasonably good rate as a freelancer/contractor.

    - Try to pick out a speciality that you can become known for. I.e shopping cart integration, CMS systems etc. It doesn't stop you doing other kinds of work, but it's helpful to have a depth of knowledge within a certain area of implementation.

    - If you can design, pick yourself a 'style' and stick to it - i.e always create 'clean and simple', or 'wacky' styles - don't mix styles within your portfolio.
  20. macrumors regular

    May 15, 2006
    I never thought about that before. That seems like a good idea in a portfolio for a regular job position at a web design studio, but would it be so beneficial in a freelancers portfolio? -not a rhetorical question, I am interested in what you guys think.
  21. macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2005
    I guess you should have learned Ruby on Rails.
  22. macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2007
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    It might be wise to have a "public" portfolio available on your web site which promotes your resume' and skills. If your skills involve extreme differences in styles and layout, it's perfectly acceptable to include the best of them all - but keep your portfolio well organized so each style is distinct. I think this is what werther was getting at?

    But when presenting to a client I agree completely with werther that any portfolio you create for that initial step in the life cycle of the project should obviously include only styles and layouts pertinent to the job at hand.

    This means, developers out there, take the time to personalize the presentation when contact is made.

    Of course as the developer gains experience and clients over time, they will adjust/streamline the portfolio anyway to attract their type of client job which is their breadwinner. This is a natural evolution, sans newbies.


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