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Is knowing HTML, CSS & JS enough to start applying for jobs?



I get this question everytime and  is a double barrelled one:

“Is knowing HTML, CSS & JS enough to start applying for jobs?”


“I have some example apps. Is it ok to just link to github or do I need a portfolio?”

So the first question. You know some HTML, CSS and JavaScript, enough to create some simple apps… but you don’t know React or any of the big libs / frameworks. Should you start applying for jobs?

Firstly I would congratulate you for going about this the correct way. You’ve started by learning the core skills which are a prerequisite to getting hired, even if it turns out you need to learn more (say node and react) later. Many people see React/Angular plastered over job ads and so assume they should start off learning these… No! Learn those core skills first, people don’t care if you can knock out a small SPA using React if you clearly struggle to fully comprehend the JavaScript behind it all.

I was going to write a deep dive here on what companies would probably be looking for in a junior… but that differs by company to some extent, and it also doesn’t really answer the question.

The question is not, “will I get hired”, it’s “should I apply?”.

Will you get hired? I don’t know. You have the core skills, but are probably still lacking in terms of ability to apply them and experience with some sort of framework, and don’t think is happening only to you No! it isn’t it happens to me as well that’s why I have to inculcate the habit of learning because in programming we learn everyday. The thing is, it’s not for me to say. It’s not for you to say. It’s for the hiring company to work that out.

Should you apply? Absolutely. Once you get used to finding jobs and sending off applications you should be able to do this really fast. This means the cost to you of applying is very low (application time). There’s zero downside to an application except time spent doing the application. Beyond that if a company says no, you’ve lost nothing.

What about the upside? You get a job! That’s a pretty huge upside. I’d say even a rejection has the potential to have the upside of useful feedback.

What do you do when you have an action with little downside and massive upside? You do it!

I’d set a minimum number of applications to send out per week (maybe 5) and start applying. As you do this you’ll learn about the job market, skills you’re lacking in and potential job locations (being willing to move for a job will help you). Go into it with the assumption you won’t get anything yet, so as to avoid disappointment.

While doing this you can keep up skilling.  I’d recommend you do some very basic react first as I do.

Now we come to the question of whether or not you need a portfolio site.

Common wisdom says yes. I was going to disagree, but then gave it more thought and thought yes.

In my 2+ years of career, of been a Frontend dev, I think the portfolio aspect makes sense to me. For you it might be different. The portfolio will display all your past works or some that are very necessary but majorly backend dev they think it makes little sense to them, I don’t know I’m just saying, lol.

A prospective employer is going to want to see you can:

  • Make stuff work in the browser
  • Write code that isn’t completely vomit inducing

The GitHub links can cover the second point, but not the first. Yes they could go to github, clone and run your stuff, but they won’t. The person looking over your application will probably spend 15 mins max going over it (it’s often a dev who’s busy with other things). This doesn’t give them enough time to get apps up and running. For this reason you need a portfolio site to act as a showcase for your stuff working in the browser. It also means everything (github links and demo) is available on a single website which makes it easier then sending a series of links.

I’d encourage you to keep your portfolio site simple, because I’ve this acronym KISS (Keep it Simple and Sweet), I’m still learning to live by it. Don’t try and build a full CMS. Go for a simple and clean design and navigation system, over something flash which will take you ages and is more likely to go wrong. A portfolio is just a way to show off your code, you’re not showing off the portfolio site itself. Play it safe and end up with a site that won’t win you any points, but won’t lose you any either (eg no bugs!!).

It’s probably best to look at some free WordPress themes, and use one as a style guide to implement your site. No need to actually use WordPress, just pick a theme to emulate. This way you should have the base for a design which doesn’t suck.

All the site needs to be is an about you home page, and a page for each demo with:

  • What it is
  • Technologies used
  • Things learned from coding it
  • GitHub link (the code is the most important thing!)

You can have a view to get an idea of All in all, simplicity https://michaelchilaka.netlify.com.

Hope these answers help.

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