I Was Offered My First Interview Right After Changing This One Thing About My Resume

In 2020 my career as a chef took a big pause as Covid-19 shut down basically every restaurant in the country. The restaurant I was working at during that time ended up closing permanently in October that same year. I decided to finally take action and do something I had considered doing before, and that was switching careers to software. I had heard about and done some research on coding Bootcamps and decided to apply to a few. I started my Bootcamp early in 2021 and finished it in June. Since then I’ve been applying to jobs, practicing my skills, and making connections, yet I was still not getting to the point of getting that interview.

I felt that my resume was pretty strong for someone just coming into the profession and that many of my soft skills from restaurants transferred into the software. However, that obviously wasn’t enough. I wanted to try something different to stand out and I felt the real thing I needed was some experience. I joined two volunteer teams doing civic hacking in my area and added both to my resume and within 2 weeks I received my first interview after months of applying to jobs.

If you’re in a similar position and feel like your resume is missing the experience needed to land that first job in the software industry I’d like to share with you a few ideas of how to add some content to that section of your resume.

  1. Volunteer:

I made this number one because it’s the route that I took so I am the most confident about this option. If you want to volunteer and aren’t sure how or where then I would recommend looking into civic hacking or civic coding in your area. If you live in a city then you can almost certainly find a group for your specific area but if you can’t find one in your area don’t let that stop you from joining one of a nearby city or even one that's across the country or world! Even programs that weren’t remote before covid are almost certainly remote now which means you can participate from anywhere! If you cant find a local organization then I would recommend looking at Code for America as they have teams from all across the country and is a great place to hone your skills, start working with teams, network, and add some meat to your resume!

2. Open-Source:

There are TONS of open-source projects out there. From operating systems to frameworks, to languages, to programs and apps there are a plethora of options to choose from. If you're looking for open-source projects to help with I would recommend starting with any that you are already using. I use Ruby on Rails and React.js almost every day and both of those are open source projects. Places like that can be a good way to start because you are already familiar with the functionality that the code provides. Again open-source projects are a great way to practice your skills as well as learn new ones and to practice working on larger bodies of code than what you created on your own during your Bootcamp or college education.

3. Freelance

Freelance work has the awesome benefit of providing some income while you gain experience. It can be hard to find clients but diving into a specific niche that you're comfortable with on a website like Fiver or Upwork might be a good place to start. Instead of listing yourself as a “web programmer” and competing against every other web programmer on the site that already has thousands of good reviews get more specific and share frameworks or styles that you are good at and can focus on and that way it might be a bit easier to find clients that are looking for a specific thing. Doing some work for friends, family or local businesses might also be a good place to start finding clients if freelance work is a route you want to explore.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose, but it's important to realize that the experience section of your resume is one of if not the most important part, and having some work in software to show helps you stand out from the many other grads looking for entry-level jobs as well.

Student at Flatiron School