By the end of this article, you'll know what you can do today to increase your chances of landing more interviews and the job you're looking for as a Front-End Engineer.
Tough, competitive jobs market, or a FUD?
Some say the Front-End jobs market has gotten tough lately. One of the reasons could probably be the 2023 tech layoffs waves. The reality is that the tech market remains hungry for hires. Conversely, more and more Bootcamps are selling "shovels" and promise "easy gold." This attracts many "yet-to-become" Front-End Engineers who add to the noise. While you can't control the market, you can control what you do about it. Whether actively looking for a new position or open to new opportunities, you will likely face the issue of standing out from the crowd. You'll also have to do that in the future if you're not currently looking for new opportunities but will need to. At this point, you need to figure out how employable you are. How can you be the signal and rise above the noise?
You are already a good enough Front-End Engineer with a good track record and enough skills to thrive in the market. What if this still does not land you new interviews, let alone the ideal opportunity? It's time to up your game.
Good opportunities come to you
Imagine a world where good opportunities come to you. A world where companies reach out, and everyone knocks on your door to get you into their team. You get to pick the right fit opportunity on your terms. Sounds too good to be true? It is doable with the right mindset following the right strategy.
What got you here won't get you there
What got you into your current position won't get you into the next one. You must show your value to raise interest and make companies want to work with you. View yourself as a business. As with any good business, you need to invest in your marketing. Let's look at the main areas you should work on to increase your likelihood of success.
1. Improve your online presence
Do your LinkedIn, Twitter, or GitHub profiles reflect who you are and what you do? Are they up-to-date and relevant? Are they aligned with the direction you want to go? We all can improve our online presence. Improving your bio, profile picture, interests, and experience are good starting points. Ensure you're consistent across your public profiles to give a sense of care and show you're proactive and thoughtful.
This is the area that you can improve today. It's the part that usually takes the least effort. If you choose to do one thing, do this. No excuses.
2. Sharpen your skills and stay up to date with tools and technology
Apart from the hard skills, you'll also benefit from mastering soft skills. Your day-to-day work involves lots of communication and working in a team. To do better at work, you must have good communication skills, listening, time management, problem-solving, and empathy, to name a few. These skills will benefit you at your current job and help you land a new one.
3. Build authority
People who share their points of view, learnings, and help in public are more likely to get hired. Who doesn't want to work with someone trustworthy and who already proved their skills? The risk of hiring these people is low, and they are top of mind for many companies. Let's look at how you can grow authority in your field.
Teach what you know
As a Front-End Engineer, you stumble upon issues daily or need to help others with their problems. You already know things that others don't and would benefit from. Did you consider writing about these issues and how you solve them? Writing about it can help you understand it better and build your authority as an expert in that field. Is writing not your thing? Consider video format instead. If you want to take it to the next level, why not create a course on specific platforms like Egghead.io?
Contribute to Open Source projects
Companies love open source. Also, companies are made of people, and some contribute to open-source projects. Contributing to the same projects means you already work together. Doing so shows your interest in giving back and helping the community. It's a great way to learn and make new connections. Do you know of any Open Source projects you can contribute to? Is there any specific framework, tool, or project you want to support by contributing to their codebase? By the way, it doesn't always have to be about shipping code. You can also contribute to discussions or issues.
Give a public talk or presentation
I know this one sounds scary, and it is for most of us. You don't need to talk in front of a big audience. On the contrary, starting small is better. Do you know of a local or online meetup where you can submit a proposal for a talk? Reach out to them. It can be even more manageable and less daunting if you do a presentation at your work with the people you know and trust. Start small, repeat, and get feedback to improve.
4. Grow your network
If a friend or peer refers you to a company, they will likely invite you for an interview and consider hiring you if you're the right fit. Here are a few ways you can grow your network.
Help out others in the community
Are you part of dedicated Front-End forums or communities like Discord? If not, consider joining one or more. Be proactive and helpful. Take the time to read and understand other people's problems if you can help them by giving solutions or sending them in the right direction. Engineers from other companies are also part of these communities, and it will be a matter of time until they notice you're bringing value to the community. Who wants to avoid working with helpful people?
Connect with fellow Front-End Engineers
Look out for opportunities to attend conferences, meetups, and events related to your interests. If not logistically possible, there are usually online options as well. Try to follow as many as you can and connect with other Engineers.
Another way to connect is through LinkedIn, Twitter, or GitHub discussions and online communities.
Grow and nurture existing relationships at your current workplace. It's always easier to grow existing relationships than to make new ones. So make sure you're helpful and proactive. Others will notice and can't ignore it.
How many of these areas are you working on, and where can you improve? What can you do today and be more employable as a Front-End Engineer? When in doubt, start small and build from there. It's a long-term game.