I've been out of work for over a year. I have two Bachelor degrees (in computer science and digital media), a ton of intelligence and creativity, about two years programming experience, and the overwhelming desire to work hard and finally get out of my parents' basement. And yet finding jobs I qualify for is very difficult; everyone seems to be looking for people with 3-5 years experience. And the ones I do apply for never seem to give me a second glance. I've tried networking, but I'm completely incompetent at that even when it doesn't give me a panic attack. I have no income whatsoever, my debt's piling up, and my working on my comic is the only thing I have that's keeping me sane right now.
This is incredibly frustrating. I have no idea why I keep failing, and I have no idea what to do.
I honestly don't know if this is the best place to ask for help, but … Well, I still need help. And you guys are always great. So if you have some advice, or can talk me through the problem, or even have a connection somewhere I can follow up on, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
Just spam resumes. You don't get rejected if you aren't good for the job, you get rejected because somebody was a better fit, and there's not shame in that. Like submitting a novel, rejection is normal. I was always told during jobhunting I should be applying to at least three jobs a day. Treat getting a job as your job.
Also, unless you're in a specific process, call back after a week or two. Don't be pushy about it, but sometimes the callback is what gets you the job.
I agree with the spamming idea. Especially mass spamming companies. That's what I did for a few of my jobs, either re-applying every 6 months (their rule) or applying for 15 different jobs (this was a big box store). If anything your name will keep popping up until they have to notice you!
Also, if there's one in your area try finding a talent agency where you submit your resume to them and they'll help you find a job. I worked with one in the Seattle area (Business Talent Solutions) that didn't charge anything because the businesses paid them and most of those job listings were with really quality companies but they wouldn't post anything online. So if that's an option~
Another idea is applying to jobs where you might not have the experience they ask for but trying anyway. You don't lose anything trying~ As swamp said, three a day is a good plan.
I'd say post your resume here (you can omit your personal info), and we can critique it for you. As for actual interviewing, if you're going to do on site, hackerrank etc. are probably your best shots. Even at higher levels you'd be surprised how much of it is college level crap you forgot half a decade ago. Good luck, and let us know if you need any more specific help other than visibility.
Also, definitely go on a website and talk to a recruiter directly (LinkedIn etc.), don't just randomly apply online. They will likely to overlook you because they have college fairs for college kids, and leave these sites for harder to find people. So you gotta make the first move. And definitely apply to all the big companies: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple (kinda, they don't hire as much as others), IBM, and other companies. They often will sponsor you as well. And when interviewing, don't worry, for low level entry jobs, you aren't competing with anyone. Even if it seems like 5 people are going for 1 job, that's not true - because unlike people with 3+ yrs of industry, you probably aren't specialized in anything, so they will see if you're a fit, and then stick you in the first opening they can find. It sucks if it's a mismatch, but that's how those big companies operate.
Pro tip, the "3 to 5 years work experience" is a Catch 22 and most companies know it. I read a report the other day that 61% of "entry level" jobs require 3+ years of experience. Like, what the heck!! How do I get a job that requires me to HAVE A JOB
The trick is to APPLY. ANYWAY.
Within reason, of course. If a position needs like, 7+ years, don't waste your time, but try if it asks for 3 to 5. Usually, if you're in the ballpark, like, within maybe 2 or 3 years? They'll usually say "close enough".
That's when you use your resume to show off your ~*~*SKILLS~*~*. If you can prove that you're capable of meeting the job requirements with minimal training, the better chance you'll have to get it!
Just like people above said: spam applications and ignore the fact that they require experience. They just write it cause they don't want to sound desperate (but some ARE and will hire ANYWAY). If you spam applications at some point you WILL get a job, it's a rule of probability (the so called law of large numbers).
I think my best advice to you is to just keep trying and to be open to volunteer work. Plus, listen to the feedback of why you're not getting the job. Maybe it was the impression you left? Maybe you need to learn some new skills on your own time? Also, times are hard in general for people in North America. More importantly, apply anyway even if you don't meet the experience requirement.
Thanks for the encouragement, guys. For the record, the vast majority of applications I send out either don't go to interview or end after the preliminary phone interview. I think my largest obstacles are the large gaps in my work history, which are the consequence of the very problem I'm struggling to address. That and my failed attempt at a masters degree in Mathematics, which … Well, the less said about that particular trauma right now, the better.
I currently live in Ottawa, and I very much wish I didn't. There is a reasonable number of tech companies here, mostly in Kanata, but almost nobody in game development. Even among general tech we're nowhere close to Toronto, so I'm doing most of my looking there. From what I've heard, though, the market is tough for programmers all over. I'm also open to jobs as a writer, which is a large part of why my focus is on game development: A small company could easily allow me to leverage both skills. Unfortunately, my only "work" experience for that is my comic, so … yeah.
As to jobs I don't technically qualify for, I have a hard time believing applying would be helpful unless it's just a "click and submit" process. Applying for a job the "right" way (custom cover letter, custom resumé, company research, etc.) takes a lot of time and energy, and makes the rejection all the harder. And like I said, it's a tough market right now, so I'd be doing is guaranteeing there's a better candidate. Not that it makes a difference when even McDonalds won't look at me twice.
Here is a redacted copy of my resumé, if anyone's interested.
Here is a redacted copy of my resumé, if anyone's interested.
I would volunteer at a local charity shop. It's what I did.
Even if you're not getting paid, volunteering gives you something to put on a resume that isn't just education - actual experience - not to mention a reference at the end of it. It will also take the attention away from the gaps in your work history.
I don't know how viable my advice is in your situation, but even just doing it while searching for a paying job a couple days a week can leave you with a handful of extremely useful skills you didn't have before that will catch someone's attention.
It's far from a tech/development job, but if McDonald's won't look at you, then I think you need to build a foundation before you aim higher.
It might not be the direction you want to go, but you won't regret it.
Top tip; a lot of companies use long annoying application processes to test your persistence. If you don't want to even fill In the form, do you really want the job?. If you DO fill it in successfully, you've already proven yourself better than most of the other "applicants".
I'm not going to pull punches, and I'll go as I read:
1) Phone interviews suck. You should play on your strength, know every company you interview with, and leverage their lack of knowledge to show the many ways you can be an asset they don't have. Speaking of...
2) So you don't have a master's in Mathematics - guess what? 99% of the world doesn't, either. But that doesn't mean it's worthless. You can definitely mention that despite not finishing a master's, you took up to X years of math, specializing in Y, and just felt research was not something you enjoyed and wanted to pursue, so you decided that it was time to move on. That doesn't mean you don't enjoy math, and doesn't mean what you did learn isn't applicable. If it's applicable to the company, let them know you that.
3) Lots of people live in Ottawa, lots of people move, don't think that you're stuck or can't find a job. In Europe, many people move to other countries. You may need to sit down and realize you may need to, too. When I said "they will be willing to sponsor you" - I meant your visa - so you can work at their respective HQs here in the states. I know some have offices in Vancouver and such, but not all have big projects that could use a guy like you.
4) Programming in games is almost mythical. I know a guy with 7(!) years of programming experience with one of the FAANG companies. Can't get a gaming programming job. Why? Because he never released a AAA title. It's a small industry compared to many, and it's small for a reason. It's harder and harder to get in, because like financial tech, medical tech, and space tech - the skills just don't carry over. AI in big data is not the same as game-AI (which are smoke and mirrors) which in turn is nothing like the AI used in an airplane to keep it from falling out of the sky or a car to keep it in lane. If you want a programming job in games, you gotta open Game Maker and make something small, then open Unity, and make something average. If you can open unreal, and make a legit complete indie game - only then will you have a good shot. With basic programming skills, it'll be tough to even get into tools programming. There is a "work around" if you will. Some companies like Nintendo or nVidia or AMD may have some game-related jobs. Nintendo provides support for their consoles to 3rd parties, in nVidia you may work on shaders team etc. Those skills may be invaluable to multi-plat companies - but know you will not be working on more than support roles when you do make the transfer.
5) Writing for games is just as hard. You'll not only need your comic, you'll often need a book or something of the sort. And you bet your butt that it better not have a spelling or grammar mistake.
6) Resume time!
A) Boom! First line is unnecessary - they know what is a qualification; they don't need to know it's a summary. So Qualifications would be fine but...
B) They would rather know your actual work. Anyone can say they had 14 years of experience, they want to know what does that entail. So I suggest instead: Chronologically backwards list of places you worked and what did you accomplish* (asterisk is important, if I don't forget, more on that later)
C) Developped apps in blah languages; move that to the bottom. In fact, don't bother saying apps, just list the languages you are comfortable with as part of skills. Keyword is comfort. If you're not willing to interview in that language, drop it! It's of no use to your employer.
D) If you're creative and can find effective solutions, then why is your resume not very creative? Sorry man, this is all fluff and no punch. Gotta delete this.
E) Worked as part of a team? Great, where? when? doing what? did you accomplish anything? What happened to your team (you honestly don't have to answer this one)?
F) Related Skills - this sounds more of what you need on top. This is the juice of your resume, not whatever you call the top.
G) Implemented algorithms (what did they do?) for client applications (which ones? using what language?), then refined said algorithms using creative (the hell does that mean?) applications of interdisciplinary (what disciplines?) knowledge to create measurable (what did you measure?) improvement in accuracy (of what?) - this told me a lot of nothing.
H) Finally something, can we at least know what store?
I) Cool - if you're proud of it, put the link on top; else dump it.
J) Again, good stuff, now tell us more about what DB was it? SQL? NoSQL? what data was analyzed? How? What were the results?
K) Links? What games? Genres? Solo? What was your contribution?
What comes up after K? L? We're going with it:
L) Teamwork and Management - why? Unless you legit have like 20+ years of management and are trying to move up in the ladder in a cross-company dick-move that will leave your current team shafted, all for it. Chances are, you are not going to have the experience to be a director somewhere from the get go. So merge it with the rest.
M) Documentation? Can we see? If not, then unfortunately, this is a weak line, in fact, I'd dump it in the middle somewhere if you want to have it. I'd avoid it unless you want to go into what developed systems means.
N) Crum Master, right?! Heyo! Actually, this is one of the most valuable things on your resume. Honestly, recruiters eat this up like peanut butter. This should go high on whatever company's list (remember that chrono-backwards thing I spoke of?) this is.
O) This is nice, but I'd put it in hobbies, in fact, I'd leave it out if you're going for a tech job. Writing, you may wanna keep it. Always know who your audience is, and then imagine they are impatient, agitated, and really wanna go pee. If it's wasting their time, don't put it there. And speaking of...
P) I should have scrolled from back and gone forward, because this is where your resume was hiding. This is your resume, it should also be 1 page, not 2.
R) This is honestly the second thing I'd leave on your resume. First was Scrum Master in case you forgot due to my rambling. MATLAB is industry known. They will have an idea of what you were clicking. It'd be great if you could go on into whether this was done for real patients, or just a sample, what was the end result? This is actually solid, but whether it's a coal or a diamond is up to your sales muscles.
S) Again, this is nice, but I guess the redacted is the company, which if it is, fine. You need to do more of this: Say what you used, and what you used it for. And do it everywhere.
T) Solo Developer is a bit weird sounding. I'd use something like Self-published. Up to you.
U) Nice Gameplay Programmer and Sound; not sure how much of it is "real" - but that could help a ton with getting at least something up in that alley.
V) Education on the bottom. Good Man, now put lists like skills underneath this. Make sure that for as many as possible skills, there is a mention of what and when above it. If you say C++, I'll assume school if it's not mentioned in work. Don't make recruiters do the work for you.
W) Almost end of alphabet, but we made it. Now about that asterisk. Recruiters don't want to know what you did, because anyone on that floor can do the job you did. They want to know that when they bring in someone, they get a nice pat on the head and some catfood for bringing someone who actually lifted the quality of the product up. No one wants another status quo. So example of what you need to say would be along these lines:
X) Hypothetical 1: Developed a program in MATLAB for visually separating stains... to lower chances of false positives. The 90% success rate saved doctors an average of 2 minutes per patient and lowered false positives identified by doctors by 12% in a closed study compared to control group.
Y) Hypothetical 2: Served as a Scrum master for a team of six, three times a week. Helped communicate with sister team on X project, and presented my team with their blockers to drive them to resolution. This was accomplished by of assigning bugs using JIRA and weekly goals to keep the project on schedule.
Z) C'mon, you really think I wasn't going to go all the way? Hypothetical 3: Designed a personal website, utilizing HTML and CSS for UI, and implemented blah using jQuery to lower the amount of scrolling needed, thus improving UX.
Final stoppage. You did not get the game winning ball.
I figure I should keep you guys in the loop on this, so …
Yesterday, I had an interview with TripleByte, a recruiter that specializes in tech companies in New York and San Francisco. I have no idea how well I actually did, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I should hear back from them tomorrow. At any rate, I can consider this a small success.