Bracing Yourself for Interview Preparation
As we go on an actual job hunt, we look at a number of resources to find chances, including LinkedIn, meetings, and referrals. We go through methods for utilizing your professional network, enhancing your internet profile, and accessing the untapped job market so that you have the knowledge and resources necessary to find a wide range of opportunities and develop enduring relationships. In this chapter, we will start by talking about your resume and cover letter, which are the foundation of your job application. These crucial records give prospective employers a summary of your qualifications and a look into your professional demeanor. To capture the hiring manager’s interest, we go into detail on creating appealing content, customizing your resume and cover letter to the job's needs, and improving their overall presentation.
Because we will be applying for React roles, it’s important that we tailor our resume appropriately so that it gives us the best chance of getting our resume in front of a hiring manager’s eyes. This can be achieved by including relevant buzzwords such as React, Redux, and Next.js, which are all related to the React ecosystem, strengthening our profile further as it becomes apparent that we are a candidate worth checking out due to the fact that we use the tools and technologies they most likely have on their job descriptions.
The next strategy to follow would be to have a process that can enhance our job search and make us more hirable. This can include doing things such as the following:
- Having a GitHub profile
- Creating a personal website portfolio
This is especially important in the creative and technological sectors, where employers frequently want concrete evidence of your skill. We offer advice on the following areas:
- Choosing projects
- Perfecting your profile
- Building an interesting portfolio
With this information, we can showcase our technical expertise and also capture the essence of our individuality, which is great for highlighting our best work that makes us a stand-out candidate.
Finally, we provide priceless interview advice to help you succeed when it counts. We cover everything, leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit to ensure that you are well prepared for interviews, from preparing for behavioral and technical questions to mastering the art of communication and negotiation.
Starting this trip can be exciting and difficult, but if you have the correct attitude and follow the advice in this chapter, you can embrace the process and come out on top. So, be ready, and let’s start your road to mastering interview preparation.
In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:
- Preparing your resume and cover letter
- Building your GitHub profile or website portfolio
- Finding jobs to apply for
- Understanding the role of meetups and referrals
- Exploring interview tips
Preparing your resume and cover letter
We will be going through the process of creating a good resume and cover letter in this section, which is essential if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of doing well during the interview stage of your job search as a React developer. This is an area that can essentially have a big impact on whether or not you find yourself in a position where you have a constant stream of job opportunities coming your way. Having a good resume combined with an equally good cover letter is the first step to covering all of your bases—so to speak—by preparing you for any challenging outcome you might encounter.
Differentiating between a resume and a cover letter
We are now going to talk about the difference between a resume and a cover letter, so let’s get started. Essentially, a resume is a form of Word or PDF document that basically showcases a person’s work history. This is where you will be presenting all of your career experience up to the most recent date. Resumes can cover areas of interest such as your education, work experience, achievements, and skills. The main purpose of having a resume in the first place is to present your knowledge and qualifications to companies for whom you are trying to get hired, in the hopes that your profile will be strong enough to get you an interview. The first step is always to convince a hiring manager that you are a candidate worth shortlisting.
Cover letters, on the other hand, are documents that are no longer than one page. Their sole purpose is to accompany your resume, and both are oftentimes submitted at the same time for a role. A cover letter is not as formal as a resume, meaning that you can be a lot more expressive with your wording here. This is your chance to introduce yourself to the company and explain why above all else you are the stand-out candidate they should seriously consider hiring. We should use cover letters to highlight our best skills and experiences, with the goal of ultimately convincing the hiring manager and company that our resume and personality make us a potential good culture fit and that we deserve to be invited for an interview, at least so that we can prove ourselves. You can find a great example of a cover letter in Figure 1.1:
Figure 1.1: Cover letter
The significance of having an excellent resume and cover letter
Let’s now discuss the importance of having a good resume and cover letter and why they are essential for job searchers. It is far too easy to believe that you can make do with just a generic resume, believing that it is not a high priority and that your time would be better spent on other areas of the job search process such as doing job applications. We are going to break this down even further so that we can highlight the areas where having a stand-out resume and cover letter can work in your favor.
To do that, we will navigate the importance of making a good first impression, learn how to pass the screening process, understand which customizations to look into, learn how to sell your brand, and learn how to train yourself to go into an interview with confidence.
How to make a good first impression
When people meet us for the first time, they don’t really know anything about us. This essentially gives us a blank canvas where we are able to really sell ourselves to a new person and convince them that we are high value and worth getting to know. Resumes and cover letters are pretty much the introduction documents akin to saying “hi” to someone new or shaking hands when you have met someone new whom you would like to know. With well-written documents, we are able to set ourselves apart from the other candidates and hopefully put ourselves at the top of the shortlist.
In my experience, you need to be as friendly as possible and go into that interview with charisma and as much belief and positivity as you can create. Sometimes, it can be hard if, for whatever reason, you are feeling low or bad on the day, but you have to find a way to overcome it. I have gone to interviews when I was not feeling the greatest, and it negatively impacted the interview. Similarly, I have had interviews go well because I was in the right frame of mind on the day and knew what I was going to say. A strategy that works well for me is listening to music or meditating beforehand. Feeling relaxed or fired up for a challenge is really going to give you the strength you need to put your best persona forward on the day.
Passing the screening process
This is our time to show our potential new employer how good a professional we are. Resumes and cover letters are used to screen new candidates to see which ones are worth interviewing. If the content we are putting forward is poorly written, outdated, fake, or has too many grammatical, spelling, and other inaccuracies, then we are highly unlikely to get to the interview stage. In these instances, it can be common to experience rejections or even ghosting when you never hear back from them. Of course, there are many reasons why this could be happening; we just ran through a few scenarios.
I can remember an instance when I had a resume that had some spelling errors on it that I did not even notice and nobody mentioned. You would think that the spellchecker in Word would show them all, but that was not the case. I had some words that were all in capital letters, and the spellchecker did not see the typos. That’s why it’s essential that you double- and triple-check what you are writing. Even getting someone else to proofread it is a good option. They might spot something you missed.
Customizing your resume and cover letter
It’s now time for us to learn about customizations and how having a tailor-made resume and cover letter can increase your job prospects even more. If you create a tailor-made resume and cover letter for each role you apply for, then you can demonstrate that you have taken the time to read through their job description and that you are capable of showcasing how your current technology stack is a perfect match for the job. A custom profile is always going to stand out from a generic one. Sure—it might take a bit longer to create something custom for each application, but if that leads to even a few interviews, then it was clearly worth the effort.
I have had much success with doing this over the years, with my tailor-made resumes leading to more interviews compared to the generic ones that I just used everywhere. So, let’s say that I am applying for a React role. To better my chances of success, I would try to highlight all the React experience that I have. So, I would add links to projects that I have created in React either on GitHub or a live website. I am also a technical writer, so adding links to articles on React that I have published would help me stand out even more.
I could also take this a step further, and for each relevant role I could mention something about React, such as—for example—“integrated a Redux store and optimized the performance of the application, leading to faster load times for users.” Adding in keywords such as Next.js, Vercel, Netlify, AWS, and other technologies will improve our profile further because it shows that we are well versed in modern technical stacks.
Selling your brand
We are brands. This is an important concept that should be realized as we walk through life. Every time we meet somebody new, we have a chance to forge a new connection that can open up doors to even more life experiences. We use resumes and cover letters for marketing purposes because we are essentially selling ourselves and our ethos to new people. This gives us the chance to highlight our experiences, life achievements, and technical abilities, which are very hard to gauge from a normal job application.
This realization has led to me applying this mindset to everything in my life. Whether that is the content I create on social media or the emails that I send to clients, it’s all about having this brand and business professional ethos. People are more likely to believe in you if you can prove that you are a credible person.
Going in with confidence
When we put in the time and effort to create a well-made resume and cover letter, it can do wonders for our confidence. The more confidence you can show at the start, the higher the likelihood that you are going to perform well in the interviews. It really does make a difference when we go into something high on confidence, as opposed to feeling negative and downbeat. We attract what we put out into the world. The more positivity we can output, the more positivity that will come back our way.
I can’t think of many successful interviews I had when I went there downbeat and lacking confidence. People can really pick up on this energy, which is why it’s so important to be in the right frame of mind prior to going for that interview. There have been times when I was feeling low after facing multiple rejections and ghosting experiences, which happens to all of us. In those situations, it’s probably best to take a break from interviews, which is what I forced myself to do. The confidence will return over time. If you are getting burnt out, as I did, take a break.
In the next section, we will learn about the different types of resumes that we can create. Every job is different, so it’s important to learn about the variety of resumes that we have available to us and which ones are the most appropriate for each job.
Exploring types of resumes
There are several varieties of resumes, such as chronological, functional, combination, targeted, and creative. Each one serves a different purpose. We are going to learn about the differences between them so that we can factor this in when it is time to create our own.
Figure 1.2: Chronological resume
You start with your most recent position and go backward; it presents your employment history in reverse chronological order. This method displays your professional development and demonstrates how your talents have advanced over time. This style is well liked by job seekers and is my personal preference because it provides a concise and easy-to-understand account of employment history, enabling hiring managers to rapidly evaluate credentials and potential.
A normal chronological resume will begin with the candidate’s contact information in the header, then go on to a professional overview or objective statement, followed by a thorough listing of their job history. Each position will be documented with the title, employer, dates of employment, major duties and achievements, and any relevant skills or certifications acquired while holding that position.
Candidates with a solid work history and a distinct professional trajectory benefit most from chronological resumes since they can display their development and advancement over time. This style, however, might not be appropriate for persons who have little or no job experience, have had a long period of unemployment, or are trying to change careers or roles.
Figure 1.3: Functional resume
It showcases your successes and talents, and people have gaps in their employment history frequently choose to use this type.
A functional resume still includes the applicant’s employment history, but it is presented in a streamlined style without dates or job titles. Instead, the emphasis is on the accomplishments and talents that are most pertinent to the position they are applying for. Often, these abilities are categorized into groups, such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, and technical capabilities.
A quick synopsis or objective statement that emphasizes the applicant’s top qualifications might be included at the start of a functional resume. The resume’s last section could also include information about education and other relevant credentials. Although functional resumes can be an effective way to highlight a candidate’s abilities and accomplishments, some hiring managers might be wary of this style since it may be seen as an effort to hide a lack of experience or employment gaps. As a result, it’s crucial to make sure the functional resume is customized to the precise job needs and is presented in an open and truthful way.
This resume format incorporates aspects of both functional and chronological resumes. The resume includes a section on your job history as well as highlighting your accomplishments and talents. For job seekers with a varied work history, this style is especially helpful because it highlights both their previous experience and talents.
We can see an example of this type of resume in Figure 1.4:
Figure 1.4: Combination resume
With a combination resume, the candidate’s employment history is stated in reverse chronological order, but a summary of their most significant accomplishments and duties is given in place of a thorough description of each position. This enables the applicant to present their qualifications without going into too much detail.
A skills section is included after the work history section when the candidate outlines their main talents and accomplishments in a particular skill category. Technical ability, language ability, project management skills, and other talents can be included in this area, which is grouped in a way that is related to the position for which an application is being made.
A combination resume may also start with a summary or objective statement that highlights the applicant’s significant accomplishments and career objectives, and it may finish with information about the applicant’s schooling and other relevant credentials.
A targeted resume is a kind of resume that is customized for a particular position or sector. It places emphasis on the knowledge and expertise that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying.
We can see an example of this type of resume in Figure 1.5:
Figure 1.5: Targeted resume
An applicant for a targeted position would often thoroughly read the job description before tailoring their resume to the position’s unique criteria. To highlight the applicant’s relevant experience and talents and to show how they fulfill the particular job criteria, it is necessary to make changes to the content and keywords in the resume.
A targeted resume style could start with an overview or objective statement that highlights the applicant’s strong education, training, and experience, as well as accomplishments that prove their suitability for the position. Although the candidate’s employment history and educational background will also be included, the emphasis will be on highlighting their most pertinent qualifications that match the job description.
In general, a targeted resume can be a good method to highlight a candidate’s skills and raise their chances of getting called in for an interview. It displays the applicant’s interest in the position and their capacity to customize their application to the requirements of the job, which hiring managers may view as a favorable indicator.
The advantage of using a creative resume is that it is intended to highlight your individuality and inventiveness. To stand out, it could use unconventional forms or incorporate visual design components. Creative resumes tend to be the most expressive forms of resumes as you can use your design skills to truly make you unique. These can be created using design tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Figma, and Canva, to name a few. There are also many online and template websites that can let us create these types of creative resumes.
Infographics, charts, photographs, and other design elements are all possibly included in creative resumes in a variety of formats. Candidates frequently utilize them in creative professions where a visual portfolio is crucial, such as graphic design, marketing, or advertising.
It is also possible to submit a creative resume in addition to a regular resume in order to give a more thorough and aesthetically appealing summary of the applicant’s experience and credentials. Ultimately, a creative resume can be a powerful tool for showcasing a candidate’s design prowess and originality, as well as for leaving a lasting impression on prospective employers. But it’s crucial to make sure the resume is still formal and simple to read and that it accurately and concisely conveys the candidate’s credentials and expertise.
Moving on, in the next section, let’s figure out some key elements of a good resume. It’s one thing knowing how to create a resume, but if we really want it to stand out from the crowd, then it’s important that we make it effective for our needs.
Key elements of a good resume
No resume is ever created equally, and although it can be common for resumes to be similar, it is well within our means to create a resume that can give us an advantage. We will now learn about some key elements that can help us make them less generic.
Firstly, it’s important that our resumes are well formatted and easy on the eye. Obviously, you should not have any spelling or grammatical errors because this can damage your image and credibility. It has to look professional. Bullet points tend to be the most effective way to describe each job role. Just break them down into points, and describe what you did in the role and how it had a positive effect on the business. Avoid writing paragraphs because they will make your resume too long, and hiring managers are more likely to avoid them because it slows down their shortlisting process. This is advice I received after talking to lots of hiring managers and recruiters. Overall, three to four bullet points tend to perform the best in this situation.
In most scenarios, we will be listing our work experiences in reverse chronological order. So, the most recent roles are at the top, and past roles are lower down. Keeping our resume updated and with as few gaps as possible is going to help us in the long run. To demonstrate our talents and abilities, it is a good idea to give particular examples of our successes. To measure our accomplishments, a possible solution would be to use figures and percentages to show the gains that we managed to achieve during our time working there. Putting in content that is related to React is essential because we are applying for React roles, after all. So, the more React-related experience that you can put in the experience section, the better. In one example, you could show how your experience has advanced. Let’s say that you worked on a code base that used the legacy class syntax, and then you updated it to use the latest Hooks syntax. That shows that you can work with legacy code bases and are familiar with the latest syntax too, and these are great traits for a programmer to have: problem-solving and being able to adapt to different situations.
So, we just learned about the key elements of a good resume. The next step will be to do the same for cover letters as well.
Key elements of a good cover letter
Cover letters let us express ourselves in a more informal way, which is usually not a possibility on a resume, which has to be more formal. Let’s explore some areas for writing good cover letters. The aim here should be to have good engagement, so have a strong fun introduction that briefly explains who you are, what you can do, and why you are applying for the role at that company. Don’t forget to mention the company name and the job title on the job description you saw.
Start strong and highlight your best skills and experiences. Use as much charisma as possible to engage with the person who is going to be reading it, and try to write in a relaxed manner. All of this will show that you are a good fit for the role. Use this time to make it as personal as possible. Through this, we can show how well we have researched the company by showing lots of passion and motivation for the work.
With all of that out of the way, we should be ready to end the cover letter by requesting an interview or indicating your readiness to share more details. With these points, we can produce a strong and successful cover letter by adding these important aspects. When I write cover letters, my aim is to make them intriguing, engaging, and social. I work toward trying to captivate the reader so that they can imagine what it would be like to work with me. You can have the best programming skills in the world, but at some point, you will have to interact with people, so it’s an area that needs to be worked on as well. A good combination of hard and soft skills is most desirable.
Cover letters give us significantly more creative freedom when compared to resumes, which are far stricter in terms of the structure that we use for them. Broadly speaking, it is like writing a letter or an email and selling our skills, brand, and personality to a potential new company that is looking for new hires.
Typically, we could be covering topics such as the following:
- An introduction
- How our skills are compatible with the job description
- What we know about the company from our own research
- A call to action (CTA) on how we are keen to get interviewed and looking forward to a response
These are some examples of content recommended to be included when writing a cover letter. A quick Google search for cover letter templates provides many examples and different ways to write one. Essentially, all you are doing is writing a letter on why you are a good candidate for this role, and this does not usually require a template; we can pretty much just make do with a good piece of writing. However, if you want to use a template, then feel free to do so if you think it will work for you.
We are making really good progress, so let’s continue our journey. Our job search can be improved further, and all it takes is for us to have an in-depth look at the job descriptions we see out there. In this next section, we will learn why it’s a good idea to examine job descriptions thoroughly.
Examining job descriptions
The better we get at reading job descriptions, the more likely we are to apply for the most suitable roles. In this section, we will walk through some key steps that are going to make our lives so much easier when it comes to looking for our next role.
When you search and find a job description, take your time and read through the whole thing from top to bottom. A job description is like a brief for a project. Go through it to ensure that you know exactly what is needed and don’t miss anything. Look for areas that mention qualifications, education, skills, experience, and so on. You don’t always need to meet all the specifications. In fact, it’s quite common for people to get hired even when they don’t possess all of the skills and experience, which has happened to me many times. Job descriptions are like guidelines; oftentimes, the winning candidate does not have everything required but is more than capable of learning on the job or in their free time. Keep a look out for those ATS keywords because the more of them that you find, the better your chances of getting to an interview.
Other areas of interest that we have to pay close attention to are the work, location, and salary. These factors are related to work-life balance, and if we want to have a healthy mental state, then they need serious consideration. The better these are, the higher the likelihood that we can perform well on the job. You can maximize your chances of receiving an interview call and eventually being hired by carefully reviewing job descriptions and adapting your application to the individual position and organization.
We have to use every asset at our disposal to find work, which is why there has to be an emphasis on identifying our key skills and accomplishments. Let’s now see how this can be a great way to boost our profile.
Identifying key skills and accomplishments
We should create a list of the jobs we have held under a titled section of Work History, Work Experience, or something similar. This section should include volunteer work completed and the degrees we’ve earned. The aim is to determine the abilities we applied and the impact we had in each position. There are questions that we can ask ourselves, such as how we improved productivity or performance and if we completed the project on time and within budget. It’s crucial that we list these achievements and any others that we can think of on our resume. Anything that makes us credible and an ideal candidate is well worth mentioning. In my early days, I listed all the experiences I could think of because this might have had some relevance to the job I applied for, such as—for example—if you had a job in customer service in retail, which might be a completely different job role from the one you’re applying for now, but it is evidence that you can negotiate and talk to clients.
Creating a resume is not that difficult; however, it can be all too easy to make mistakes that you might not even realize unless someone points them out. We will now learn about some common resume mistakes to avoid.
Common resume mistakes to avoid
Probably the top concern that we have to be aware of is spelling and grammatical mistakes. Always proofread your resume a couple of times because giving it multiple pass-throughs improves the chances of you not missing something important. Use a spellchecker, and it is even better if you can use a tool such as Grammarly, which is a very effective and professional copywriting tool.
Removing non-essential information is going to work well in our favor too, such as with an introduction paragraph that explains who we are and what we are looking for. This belongs on the cover letter, not the resume. And any section that talks about our personal hobbies can be removed too because it is not required for the job. If they want to know what you do in your spare time, they can ask you at an interview, and in this situation, it becomes more appropriate, especially if it’s a culture-fit interview.
I know it’s probably obvious, but still, people skip this step or don’t take it seriously at all. I am talking about researching the company you have sent your resume to. We like to focus on answering interview questions because, let’s be honest, we can do hundreds of job applications, and nobody is going to learn about every company. Our main goal is to find a job, and that’s why we send our resume out everywhere. Nonetheless, if that company invites us for an interview, at the very least, we should know something about them.
Let’s see why this is essential in the next section.
Researching the company
Always research the company by going to their website. Don’t make the mistake of going to an interview with only generic interview questions and knowledge at hand. It is not uncommon for interviewers to ask you what you know about the company, so don’t expect it to be all coding questions related to React because you never know on the day.
Learn about the work they do, their clients, their technical stack, and their history—basically, everything—and you can use search engines such as Google to learn even more about them. I have made this mistake so many times over the years. I can recall one interview where one of the interviewers asked me what I knew about the company, and I tried to avoid answering because I knew nothing. I was super prepared for any programming-related questions because that was a weakness that I wanted to fix. I did not think that it was worth the time to gain deep insights into the company because—let’s be honest here—the first-stage interview might not go anywhere, and then you will feel like you wasted your time. However, it has to be done on the off chance that you do get asked, and your failure to come up with an answer gets you removed from the shortlist.
Common cover letter mistakes to avoid
Putting together a great cover letter is an excellent way to take our job profile to another level, yet it is also an area that many people tend to let themselves down in by not taking the time to do it properly. It should not be seen as an optional addition to a resume but as a document that should be submitted alongside it. They are like two sides of the same coin and complement each other.
By far one of the biggest mistakes we can make is using a generic template. Utilizing a generic cover letter template can give the impression that we didn’t take the time to customize our application for the particular position. Instead, adjust your cover letter to the position you’re seeking; this is how it should always be done.
Another area to be concerned about is duplication. Our cover letters should supplement, not rehash, our resume. Utilize your cover letter to showcase your unique examples and talents that make you the strongest applicant for the position. Put emphasis on how you can benefit the company, not on what you want in return. It is far better to be a giver than a taker because givers provide value, and that is a quality worth having in someone. Figuring out which tone of voice to use when you write can be challenging as well. Work on matching the way the company comes across; striking the right balance between formal and informal is important.
We are learning so much about resumes and cover letters, which is going to help us a great deal when it comes to applying for those React roles. It’s time to tackle the subject of GitHub and portfolios. Our resumes and cover letters can get us in front of hiring managers, but ultimately, it is the projects and skills that we possess that are highly likely to get us interviews. In this upcoming section, we will learn about GitHub profiles and portfolios and why we should utilize them.
Building your GitHub profile or website portfolio
We will go through what it’s like to build a GitHub profile and how this can make you stand out in the interview screening process. Likewise, it is just as important to have a website portfolio because this is truly an area that gives you the ability to make yourself unique and a stand-out candidate worthy of being hired. You need to realize that the job market is incredibly competitive, which means we are going to have to do everything we can possibly do to give ourselves the best chance of being the candidate who the company believes is the best fit for the role.
Throughout the years, I have managed to get interviews solely based on my portfolio website, through its design, content and details of work I have done over the years. Our resumes and cover letters can look almost identical to a hiring manager’s eyes after they have gone through a dozen of them. However, having a custom portfolio and GitHub home page can become eye candy. It has worked for me, and it can work for you in the same way.
Benefits of building a GitHub profile or website portfolio for finding work
Creating a website portfolio or GitHub profile might help you find work and stand out throughout the hiring process. These not only highlight your abilities, but they also show that you can cooperate with others, use tools effectively, and handle challenging situations. Also, they provide potential employers with a more thorough picture of your coding experience and skills. Making an eye-catching profile or portfolio might be crucial in differentiating oneself from the competition.
How to make your GitHub profile or website portfolio stand out from the rest
When applying for employment, making a website portfolio or GitHub profile is an excellent approach to separate oneself from the competition. Although it may take some time, the effort will be worthwhile in the end. You can demonstrate to potential employers that you’re serious about joining the team by investing the time to expand your skill set, share projects you’ve been working on, and establish contacts with other developers. Also, you may use these sites to highlight your greatest work and offer convincing arguments for why they should hire you. Show them what you’ve got since there’s no denying that in today’s employment market, an internet presence has a significant influence.
What kind of content you should include in your portfolio
Examples of innovative portfolio pieces and how they can help you land a job
A solid GitHub profile and website portfolio might be a terrific approach to stand out to interviewers while trying to secure your ideal job. So, why not make your application stand out from the competition with an inventive portfolio? We can set ourselves apart from the competition by providing instances of how we push the envelope with our code. Interviewers can see that we have unique ideas, even from initiatives that were abandoned or never used. We should not undervalue the impact of demonstrating unconventional solutions, even if they weren’t used. Employers will be impressed by our diligence and inventiveness.
For example, it is a well-known fact that everyone tries to build a to do app when trying to showcase their skills. It has become so generic because it does not make us any different from each other. It’s hard to choose between candidates when they are almost all carbon copies of each other. In my opinion, a better solution would be to have projects on your GitHub or portfolio that show progression.
So, you could start with a basic React application that has some simple business logic of some sort—so, perhaps, a calculator—and then, you could create a more advanced React application that could have multiple features that do different things, such as having some CRUD functionality, or a store if we are building an e-commerce application. Afterward, we could take it a step further, maybe adding an authentication layer with login and logout, GraphQL, and various microservices all interacting with each other. This shows a clear progression as your skills continue to evolve and the projects become even more complex.
Pros and cons of using a third-party portfolio building website versus DIY
It might be challenging to choose between creating content yourself and using a third-party website when creating an online portfolio. The ability to exhibit your work without having to worry about coding or design abilities is one benefit of using a third-party website. Several third-party websites such as Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress also let users display their skills and expertise while giving them advice on how to optimize their profiles. Yet, since users have total control over the layout and functionality of their website, going down the DIY route gives us more freedom when building a portfolio. A slick style or customizability should ultimately be considered carefully when weighing your alternatives when creating your portfolio.
Let’s now take a look at a summary of the pros and cons to see what the differences are.
Summarizing the pros and cons
Here are the pros:
- Pre-made custom templates are available
- No-code tools require little technical know-how
- Design experience is not required
- Fast deployment because it’s ready-made
- Quick setup
- Easy to update because it uses a content management system (CMS)
- Technical support and services
Here are the cons:
- Lack of customization
- Might need to pay for hosting and services
- Using a third-party tool means that you don’t showcase your programming skills
Now, we will look at the pros and cons of a DIY custom approach. Let’s begin.
Here are the pros:
- Full customization
- Able to showcase your programming skills
- Free or paid hosting options
Here are the cons:
- Without a design background, it might not look as good as you want it to
- Depending on complexity, it could take longer to build
- No technical support—you are responsible for everything
OK—so, we learned a great deal about GitHub and creating portfolios. In this next section, we are going to learn more about finding jobs to apply for. There are numerous ways to go about this, so let’s keep reading to see how we can do it.
Finding jobs to apply for
In this section, we will go into detail on the best methods for finding work on job boards and using networks such as LinkedIn to do so. You will realize that we already have all the tools needed in front of us, and we need to learn how to best implement them into our job search.
Understanding your career goals and targeting specific job postings
Finding a job is not the only factor to consider. You could narrow your search for the jobs that are best for you by knowing your career objectives and applying to particular job openings. This can save you a lot of time and ensure that your efforts are focused on tasks that will help you advance your career goals. LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for staying current on what’s available and how to match it to your ambitions. In this respect, when the employment details are provided, you are fully aware of how well the job corresponds with your overall career goals. Being active on the platform and engaging with other job seekers and hiring managers leads to more success, in my experience. I have far more people reaching out to me as a result.
Utilizing job boards to search for relevant opportunities
Searching for job vacancies on online job boards is the best approach to start the job search process. There are several ways we can utilize these boards to uncover relevant possibilities that will move us closer to our professional objectives thanks to the large choice of postings, which vary from online internships to entry-level jobs in any area. Make sure you understand how to use job boards and all of their services before diving headfirst into the applications and recruitment world; this will help to ensure that pursuing a particular job market won’t be too overwhelming as you explore job opportunities and hone in on what you want. I like to set email alerts for job search parameters so that I get the latest roles in my inbox.
Networking offline and online
The good thing is that you have both offline and online networking alternatives accessible, which is essential when it comes to obtaining a job. Attending job fairs and workshops or conversing with people in your industry are examples of offline networking. By using social media sites such as LinkedIn, we can also do online networking. Joining job networks is a great way to network with people in your sector, including recruiters and possible employers. By effectively using these tools, you can network with the appropriate individuals and get access to the newest jobs in your industry. In order to improve your chances of success, don’t be afraid to seek out new contacts and widen your professional network. I go to events to expand my network, and now there are so many meetups that we can go to. I have found that being open to online and offline opportunities has the most benefits.
Job fairs and professional gatherings are excellent places to get your job search going or learn more about the kinds of occupations that could be ideal for you. By taking advantage of these possibilities, you can meet hiring managers, influential people, and other people who can help you network effectively. You can learn about various career pathways and expand your expertise in your chosen sector, and they also provide you access to companies and updated information about industry trends. Also, going to job fairs and seminars may provide you with conference-like experiences where you can pick up practical skills to make yourself more competitive—a fantastic way to stand out. Use all opportunities to attend job fairs or professional gatherings that are nearby.
Researching companies and learning about their current job openings
Finding possible employment requires doing some research on potential employers. Once you’ve created a list of potential companies, you could research more information about company cultures, job vacancies, and other factors. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for conducting company research as well; in addition to finding comprehensive company information, you can connect with hiring managers and current workers in the business. You can choose the employer you want to concentrate your time and attention on while submitting job applications by conducting research.
Using online resources such as Indeed to research salaries and more
Seeking employment need not be a guessing game. You can get crucial information about a possible employment opportunity, such as the typical wage for a role, and crucial corporate information with the help of job boards such as Glassdoor. You can gain the upper hand in negotiations and ensure that you are being paid competitively by being aware of what similar salaries are in your field. You could receive a genuine perspective of the good, the terrible, and everything in between by researching the company’s history and evaluations from previous employees. Once you are informed, there is no reason why you cannot leave with the position or pay that you desire.
We learned about the significance of networking in this section. Let’s go a bit further in the next section as we try to understand the role of meetups and referrals and how they can help us.
Understanding the role of meetups and referrals
We will go into the topic of meetups and referrals and how knowing the right people can get you through the front door to a new role. You are as powerful as your network, and it is so important to form bonds and connections with people whenever you can because one day, they could help you in ways you could never imagine. Network with fellow developers, hiring managers, CEOs, job seekers, accountants, and recruiters. All of these people are potential gateways to getting you into the industry. Let’s now learn even more about this subject. First, let’s begin with meetups.
What meetups are and why they are important for job seekers
Meetups are planned events that bring together individuals who have similar interests, such as job searchers, business owners, or academics. These gatherings give participants fantastic chances to network, learn from one another, and share concepts and tactics. They also offer a priceless chance to make beneficial contacts and gain insight from knowledgeable experts in the subject. Meetups can be a priceless resource for us when looking for referrals that could lead to our next position. Despite this immediate advantage, meetings provide a way to hone professional abilities, boost self-assurance, and get insights that could not otherwise be obtained through conventional job search channels.
Tips on how to find the right meetup group for you
A fantastic way to start looking for your ideal career is to locate a suitable meeting group for you. You could save time and stress by doing some research and planning beforehand. Find out which clubs in your region are focused on the topics that interest you or the abilities you wish to improve on first. Be sure the group’s aims are in line with your own, and any feedback from former participants can also assist in simplifying the decision. You don’t want to be in a predicament where you become bogged down in the middle of the event. Make an effort to ask friends or acquaintances for recommendations so that you can join the meetups that are ideal for your needs.
Benefits of attending meetups
It might be difficult to get a job, but by going to meetups and using references, you can make it simpler. Meetups offer excellent chances for networking with experts in your area and creating meaningful connections that might result in recommendations for job openings. This not only aids in the development of lasting relationships but also broadens your personal network and raises your chances of landing the ideal employment. Meeting individuals in your business who share your interests or hobbies through meetings is a quick and easy approach to give yourself an edge in the job search.
Another part that has helped in my career is actually participating in these meetups. Suppose you’re skilled in one part of React; it helps your image if you can contribute to the meetup and even teach others. Potential recruiters and future colleagues may be in the meetup.
How to get the most out of a meetup
While looking for a career, meetups might be a great method to get your foot in the door. You could meet people who can introduce you to others or provide you access to employers. Take the initiative and be proactive in developing relationships with people to get the most out of every encounter. Engage in meaningful conversations and project the image of a lively, enthusiastic crowd member. Also, don’t be afraid to engage with industry leaders you like on social media; by doing so, you might gain insight into the kinds of positions they could be hiring for and how you can help.
I have done this countless times, and unintentionally, too. All I was doing was engaging with like-minded people on social media, and it’s this tenacity that has led to me getting DMs on X, formerly known as Twitter, from CEOs at companies who wanted to interview me for roles they had. Never waste time when it comes to networking professionally; take advantage of any chance that presents itself.
Now that we have enough information about meetups and their importance, let’s take a look at referrals.
The importance of referrals in getting a job
In the modern world, recommendations are one of the most crucial resources for finding employment. This is due to the fact that a recommendation from an existing worker or friend can provide you access to a company’s internal operations, including new job listings and career development chances. You can ensure that your name is put up for any opportunities that come up both inside and outside of your sector by participating in meetings and other networking events. This offers you an advantage over rivals who don’t have as many testimonials praising them and gives you more possibilities. When it comes to taking charge of your own professional trajectory, taking advantage of references ought to be a top priority.
Tips on how to get referrals
A wonderful strategy to obtain your ideal job is to ask for recommendations. Even while it could seem frightening, it does not need to be. Look at the individuals who are already a part of your network, such as friends or acquaintances, to start. It’s crucial that you pick a person who is knowledgeable about your qualifications and network. Then, ask them if they are aware of any openings or employment that match your qualifications. Consider attending local professional meetings as another opportunity to network and learn about available employment in your area. Take the chance to meet some lifelong, meaningful contacts at these events since you never know whom you could run into. Above all, be persistent when asking for references, be focused, and be enthusiastic.
OK—we are doing great, and everything we have learned so far has improved our profile as a React developer. In the next section, I want to cover some very useful interview tips that can elevate us even more. Read on to see what else we can do to enhance our presence.
Exploring interview tips
In this section, we will talk about some great interview tips and how we can incorporate them into our job search routine. It is crucial that we have good planning set up well in advance so that we can take advantage of job opportunities that are eventually going to come our way.
Applying for a job can be a nerve-racking affair, especially if you have no idea what to expect. The greatest approach to ensure success is to arrive prepared with the correct attitude and understanding of optimal interviewing methods. Let’s go through some pointers to help us ace our next job interview.
Preparing for a potential technical interview
This is without a doubt the most important step and can be the difference between you getting close to a job offer or getting rejected and removed from the shortlist of potential candidates who make it to the next stage of interviews. The technical interview stage is where you are ultimately going to show your new prospective company what you can do and whether or not you are a good programmer. Typically, technical interviews can be in different formats.
For example, they could be any of the following:
- Conversations between yourself and another developer on programming topics
- Paired-programming code exercises with other developers
- Take-home code assignments that you need to complete in a few days
- Data structures and algorithms online exam
- Multiple-choice online questionnaire on programming
Personally, I have encountered all of these throughout my career. If you are extremely lucky, you might not have to do anything extremely technical because maybe the company that is hiring you does not believe in doing these types of code assessments. That’s a possibility, and I have interviewed with companies who thought that way, but it’s not always a guarantee. So, always be prepared no matter what. In terms of preparation, what I would do is work on my technical stack as much as possible—so, essentially, write as much code as I can and build apps.
For example, you might be applying for frontend or full stack jobs. So, what I have done in these situations is just practice building create, read, update, delete (CRUD) applications that connect to a database with a React frontend, and then taking it a step further and integrating third-party libraries such as Day.js, which is used for converting dates, or a chart library such as recharts.js, which is used for data visualization. These are tools that get used in real-world projects, so learning them now makes you better prepared for those take-home code challenges that could require you to use them.
Doing this step will give you more confidence in your programming skills for your technical stack. The other area that you should work on is data structures and algorithms. There are courses that you can do on Udemy, or you can study this subject elsewhere. Next, you have to find the time to practice online on coding platforms such as LeetCode. It can be tedious, but unfortunately, we need to be prepared for anything. On some job boards, I have seen forms that ask you how prepared you are for a code test, which is part of the application process when you are submitting your resume. And I can imagine that if you say that you are not that prepared, then you might not even make the shortlist. So, the moral of the story: get yourself to a place where you feel you are confident enough to at least attempt doing a code test. It’s impossible to be 100% ready because there are so many different variables to take into account. At the very least, we should be prepared enough to give it a good go.
Researching the company
It is critical to conduct research about the organization and position we are looking for prior to our interview. Browse the company’s website and read any relevant news releases or articles. Prepare a list of questions related to the material you discover ahead of time. This can assist potential employers in seeing our interest and expertise in the industry.
As job seekers, we can exhibit genuine interest in the organization and the position we are seeking by studying it. It demonstrates that they are taking the interview seriously and are prepared to put in the time and effort to prepare. I have found that I can adjust my replies to the individual job and business culture by researching the company. It enabled me to comprehend the company’s beliefs, goals, and mission, as well as to tailor my replies accordingly.
Another important area that we should pay attention to is seeing how a company we want to work for is doing overall and what its employees think about the company in general. I’m sure that we have all at some point in our careers experienced what it’s like to work for a bad company that has a toxic work environment. Not all companies are going to give you that dream experience, which is why it is worth investing some time to do research. It is normal to use websites such as Glassdoor when researching a company so that we can see what the feedback and reviews are like. It always fills you with hope and excitement when you read positive reviews; however, the same isnt true of the negative ones. Even though we all want to find that perfect job and are sometimes willing to compromise just to get a job offer, we all deserve to be happy in our jobs too. So, do your research beforehand.
Practicing your questions and answers
An excellent interview tip is to practice answering questions ahead of time so that you feel more at ease and confident while replying during the interview. Consider probable questions, and practice your replies with a friend or family member. These days, it’s normal to have video interviews as well as phone calls. So, find a way to get some practice with this too. If you don’t have anyone to practice with, you can always record yourself, watch it back, and work on improvements.
I did an internship course, and it taught me how to communicate better. We were taught to refrain from using filler words and other language flaws such as umms and errs that could take attention away from our message and degrade our language. More practice gives us opportunities to identify any potential areas of weakness we may have.
When it comes to interviewing attire, it is critical to look tidy, professional, and well groomed. Make sure your clothing is clean and ironed and that it is appropriate for the job you’re looking for. This is true even for video interviews. Even if the role is remote, you should still dress like a professional. At the very least, dress smart casual just to be safe.
Dressing adequately gives a sense of professionalism that might assist us in establishing a solid first impression. In my case, at the very least I shave or trim my beard before an interview so that I don’t look unkempt. Getting a haircut or a trim is advisable too. These days, we are fortunate because if it’s a video interview or phone call, then it’s not too bad. You can get away with looking a bit rough. Personally, I would not take that risk with a face-to-face, though; wear aftershave or perfume, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming.
Attitude is everything when it comes to interviewing. I try to work toward having a good attitude and excitement for the position I’m looking for. While responding to queries from possible employers, make sure to create good eye contact, smile frequently, and offer clear concise responses. This shows that we are self-assured and capable. Confidence may positively influence the interviewer and boost our chances of getting the job. Also, it is a great method to improve conversation during the interview. My interviews have had much better conversations when I was feeling confident and prepared. It does not always happen straight away, although confidence can be increased during the interview. I have found this to be especially true when I was able to correctly answer questions and had good responses to other ones.
Following up after the interview
Remember to express your appreciation to the interviewer for their time when the interview is over. I make sure that I do it as soon as possible, and send an email expressing my thanks and repeating my interest in the role. This can help distinguish you from other possible candidates and demonstrate how committed you are to the position. It shows that we as candidates are interested in the position and are prepared to make the effort to get in touch with the employer to follow up after an interview. This will impress the company and distinguish us from other applicants who may not have followed up.
This also gives us the chance to highlight our qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. We can reaffirm our qualifications and experience and remind the employer of the potential benefit we might bring to the business. The next stages in the employment process can be made clearer as a result of following up. It enables us to show our continuous interest in the position and inquire about the timetable for decision-making.
In this chapter, we discussed several important topics on interview preparation to assist you in getting ready for job interviews. We began by talking about how crucial it is to create a solid resume and cover letter that shows your experiences and talents. We then discussed the importance of developing your website portfolio or GitHub page to highlight your work and technical expertise. After that, we looked at several methods for locating employment, such as utilizing LinkedIn, going to meetings, and seeking recommendations.
Lastly, we provided some advice on how to ace the interview process, including studying the business, preparing your responses to typical questions, and being ready to pose your own inquiries. You will definitely improve your chances of getting the job of your dreams by taking time and following these steps to prepare.
All right—we did great! Let’s keep going. In the upcoming chapter, we are going to learn about understanding ReactJS fundamentals and its major features. So, we can expect to gain knowledge of JSX, the virtual DOM, state, class, and functional components, and many more concepts related to the React API. Take a breather and get ready to learn about some more advanced topics next.