Anyone who has ever job hunted before knows that it is not a fun process. The process of looking through job listings, researching companies, fine-tuning your resume, second-guessing your resume, anxiously checking your inbox, confronting A LOT of rejection... definitely make it about as enjoyable as stepping on a Lego with bare feet. Given all of the downsides it's no wonder that it triggers a lot of negative emotions as well.
Over the last six months I've had a few moments when I gathered my confidence enough to begin applying for developer jobs, and, with one notable exception (more on that later), it has resulted in me retreating with a sense of not being good enough. I then step back, stop applying, and begin to put my effort back into learning more or diving deeper into an area in order to build up my knowledge and rebuild my confidence.
Even just reading job listings tends to deflate my confidence nowadays, and I have to really push myself to actually pull the trigger and send in the resume, which then results in crickets 98.9% of the time. It's funny how even an immediate rejection email feels better than completely being ghosted. I mean, at least you feel like you were seen and just weren't what they were looking for.
Job hunting is definitely the one area where 'imposter syndrome' hits me square in the face. No matter how many times I hear the advice to 'just apply and let them decide if you are qualified' I can't help but prejudge the situation and ultimately decide that I'm not good enough yet. Part of this is being new to this industry which means I have no reference of what is expected and what would be considered a baseline of skills to get started.
As I prepare my resume and look over job listings the things I know to be true about myself such as my work ethic, my ability to learn quickly, my passion for learning new things, and my ability to communicate well, all get lost in the process. I struggle with how to convey those skills and how to show how I apply them to my coding.
Even with the one notable exception to my overall failure rate of applying, which was to be selected as an intern at Mozilla with the Outreachy organization, I almost didn't apply. When I first heard about this program from my friend I immediately dismissed it and told him that I didn't feel like I would be qualified. He persisted and pushed me to just put in my application and give it a try. So I did, and I was successful.
While it has been a wonderful experience so far and has shown me that I am capable of contributing in a meaningful way to actual code that is used by others, I still hesitate at the thought of beginning my job hunt again. I'm fighting against my fears as I update my resume, dismiss job posting after job posting because I don't have enough of the skills they list, or discredit whether the new skills I've learned while interning really even count since I've only been using them for a couple of months.
I'm genuinely torn between being proud of what I've accomplished and feeling like it still isn't enough. It helps to reflect back on where I was 6 months ago and compare it to where I am now, I just need to figure out how to focus on those accomplishments and promote them. I'll get there, after all Everything is Figureoutable right?
This job hunting process is only a small blip on the map of my journey and I will eventually make it to the other side successfully and find that one-in-a-million opportunity (let's just hope it doesn't take a million resume submissions to find it 😉).