Web development experience
Just like with any other field, you need experience in web development to become good at it. Actually, this holds especially true for web development since it is a very technical subject and there is alot to know.
This tutorial focuses on:
- Getting the experience
- Correctly mentioning experience
Getting the experience
You need the experience to get the job, but you need the job to get the experience.
The above statement is what's known as a Catch 22 - a particular type of situation that creates a conflict that makes certain things impossible. How is anyone going to hire you if you don't have experience, but how are you going to get that experience if you don't work anywhere?
That first web development job is hard to get but once you're in..you're in! Then you can talk about your experience and feel much more confident in getting more work.
To get that first bit of experience there are several things you can do:
Many colleges help you get settled in an internship position so that you can get some experience. If your college won't help, you can try to find an internship yourself through classified ads or through an employment agency.
NOTE: Many internship positions will require you to work for free but it's worth it if you need to get that first industry experience.
Look through classified ads, email owners of existing websites that look like they're outdated, ask your family and friends if they know some one. There is lots of freelance work out there if you look hard enough. Freelancing is a great way to gain experience. If you're interested in becoming a freelancer check out our Web development freelancing and Web development freelancing vs. real job pages.
Create a wordpress theme or contribute a few of your designs to a free designs site like www.oswd.org and brand them with your identity, have them link back to your portfolio site. Show this work on your portfolio site as well.
If you have friends or family in the industry ask them to set you up with a job. Your chances of getting a job by knowing someone on the "inside" are much greater than trying to get in a company not knowing anyone there. If you do get a job through "connections" don't take it for granted and always remember that you are an employee of this company and you have to do what it is you're paid to do. Just because you got in because you know someone in the company it doesn't mean you don't have to work hard like everyone else.
Do some work for free
Yes, free. As bad as that sounds it will be worth it when you are able to actually put something in your portfolio. If you have even one thing in your portfolio as opposed to nothing, it makes a big difference.
Check out our Web development jobs sites page for a listing of sites where you can find web development jobs (employee and freelance based jobs).
Correctly mentioning experience
How you mention your experience on your resume/portfolio can be the deciding factor when they consider hiring you or not.
Points of advice when mentioning your experience:
Make sure the experience you mention is web development (and web development related) only! Don't include that bit of info about how you worked as a parking lot attendant when you were 19. You would be surprised how many people actually include irrelevant experience on their resume.
There's alot going on in technology. So many ideas, acronyms, applications, tools, etc. You can't say something on your resume like "Built a website that is database driven and displays data dynamically" instead you have to say something like "Developed a database driven website in PHP 5.2 running on SQL which generates dynamic data based on user preferences using AJAX"
Use a little bit fancy language
Using fancy language will make what you did sound cooler and more professional.
Instead of saying "Built an e-commerce website that uses Magento as the e-commerce platform" you could say "Developed a dynamic database driven e-commerce website that runs on Magento as the e-commerce platform integrating AJAX and other technologies in the process"
Instead of saying "Designed a website for a local pet store to advertise their products and tell the world about themselves" you could say "Designed and built from scratch an online presence for a local pet store so that they may expand their business on the internet and to improve their sales and image"
NOTE: Make sure to always include the name of the company you worked for, dates you worked for them (from when to when), and your title in the company.
For portfolio sites
Include a thumbnail image of sites you have done
This makes your portfolio more effective because who ever is looking at it can see what a website you created looks like without necessarily going to it. What do you think is better? Seeing just a link like www.somesite.com asking the visitor to click on it to see what your work looks like or seeing a link like that and a thumbnail of what it looks like next to it.
Put more emphasis on what you are best at
Your strong points are your strategy, put more emphasis on them. You can do things like put your best looking/most usable sites at the top of your portfolio, have a page dedicated to your best skills, or discuss in detail how your superior skills have helped you go above and beyond in some of your experiences and then of course link to the site(s) where that experience was acquired!