So, you want to be a web developer?

Part 1 : Applying

PBS Creative receives countless applications from people who are keen to start a web development career. It can be a hugely rewarding career and we do understand how frustrating rejections can be when you’re simply trying to get your foot on the bottom rung. But just like you want a change in direction, we need the right candidate. 

So, we thought it would be helpful to describe what we’re looking for as potential employers. 

Applying is only the beginning

We often read applications that contain these kinds of phrases: 

I’m really great at IT and keen to make it my profession.”

I’ve decided to take a change in direction of my career and become a web developer.”

I made a website for my uncle’s business and thought I’d like to do this as a job.”

Unfortunately, these are common examples in applications and, in our experience, they will not secure you an interview. The main reasons are that they do not show genuine passion. Liking a career in web development is not enough. So please read on for some guidelines to follow on writing an application that will make you stand out and succeed. 

We won’t explain how to present a CV and Covering Letter. We assume as a professional you already have that skill sorted. If you don’t, that would definitely be the first step! A good CV and Covering Letter, well thought out, with no spelling or grammatical errors, will create a solid first impression. 

What do employers look for in a junior web developer?

Again, successful programmers commit to this industry because they are passionate about coding. The best developers love to code. We cannot stress that enough. 

They will apply coding techniques to improve aspects of their lives even, as being a web developer is a lifestyle, not a job. Having a demonstrable motivation to succeed in the industry is more appealing to us as employers than simply saying it is your goal or that you have a relevant degree. 

On that point, you don’t necessarily need to have web developer qualifications to support your applications. Obviously, having a Software Development degree is desirable as it shows a long-term commitment to learning the correct approaches – but it’s not essential!

Online training courses and tutorials are a convenient and popular way to learn these days. So, if you don’t have a degree, there are plenty of courses to teach you how to develop properly or even act as a refresher for courses you have completed previously. 

Show, don’t tell

Here at PBS Creative, we want to see evidence that you’re the competent web developer you claim to be. Mainly so we can judge whether you have the potential to go on to be an exceptional developer. 

This evidence can be supported by certificates, your own web page, and examples of personal projects with code snippets or commercial websites you’ve worked on.

Before you ask… installing WordPress or other similar Open Source PHP projects with extensions does not make you a web developer. Although this demonstrates that you are competent with using the web, it is likely to get ignored if you cannot explain what customisations and code you specifically have written.

If you have limited commercial experience, you can make contributions to Open Source projects or publish tools/scripts/projects you’re playing with. An impressive way to demonstrate your activity is to share your GitHub (other code repo) commits. 

The main point to remember when getting in touch is that you should always include examples of your work. In such a hotly contested industry, applying for your first web development opportunity and relying on “I’m willing to learn” won’t cut the mustard. 

You’re an investment

As an Apprentice or Junior, it’s important to understand that you’re asking a potential employer to risk making a costly investment in you:

  • It takes many hours and thousands of pounds to hire a new employee.
  • Further time needs to be put aside to bring a new employee up to speed with current projects and clients… which can take several months.
  • Many people new to the industry don’t take to the role. The reality of staring at a screen for much of the day isn’t for everyone and if you don’t work out… it’s a big loss to the business.

These are important factors to understand before starting that application process. Please ensure that you have evidence of your abilities, so we know you’re capable of learning.

Before you begin applying, ask yourself these questions:

“Do I really want to be a web developer?”

If the answer is yes, then “How can I demonstrate my passion to learn and succeed?”

Once you have honestly answered these questions, you’ll be on the first step of your Web Development career.

If you have read our guidelines and feel you’re the candidate we’re looking for, please visit our careers page.

Recommended Training

Online courses and training books: Udemy is quite popular, or you might consider Packt publishing / Mapt courses (14 day free trial or OReilly

Unsure where to start? Here are some example career roadmaps: