Meet Justin Lowen (Justin Lowen#3893 on Discord) from San Antonio πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ:

Justin lost his job in the oil industry because of COVID-19. Less than one year later (and after 163 job applications) he was recruited as a professional developer!

Being recruited isn't something that happens by accident.

After 163 applications and several failed interviews, Justin managed to progressively optimise his LinkedIn, polish his resume and used Scrimba to close skills gaps revealed in previous interviews. I spoke to Justin so YOU can learn from his experience.

In this interview, I also spoke to Justin about:

  • Justin's shotgun approach wherein he applied to more than 160 jobs
  • Changing career later in life - going from senior petroleum engineer to junior software engineer
  • Who should you listen to when it comes to CV/resume advice?
  • How to be humble and prove you don't think you're "over-qualified" while still highlighting your potential to transfer skills from your previous, more senior role
  • How to compete with young computer science and traditional bootcamp graduates

Want to learn frontend development and secure your first technical job like Justin did? Enroll in the Scrimba Frontend Developer Career Path πŸŽ‰

In case you'd prefer to read, we've transcribed and lightly edited our favourite parts of the interview here as well:

Alex from Scrimba:
Justin, I'm so happy to have you on the podcast because it was only back in January I saw you posting in the career help disco channel. We had a little chat about how things were going, and then I think just a month later you shared your success in finding your first job as a developer transitioning careers. I think there're so many interesting things we could go into like your new job, what it involves, the onboarding. Hopefully we'll get to that, but what I'm really curious to know from you is, what happened between... I think it was about the middle of January you were posting in the career help channel, and when we spoke you mentioned you'd had something like 180 applications, and maybe 10 phone screenings.

Alex from Scrimba:
I think it's bad to say things weren't going amazing, but then just one month later you turned it around. Firstly, welcome to the podcast, and secondly it's so great to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened between those two dates?

Justin:
Yeah. So certainly I'd probably been applying in earnest since October, and January it was... We had just had the holidays probably, and I hadn't been hearing much back. In fact, I'd done a few of these common interview platforms like Hirevue, some LeetCode stuff, but it seemed like I was either not getting responses, or wasn't getting much feedback from my resume or my applications. So probably around the start of February I started hearing back, and very quickly I was very busy trying to manage an interview schedule, and heard from several companies at that point. There was a lot of coding assessments to take home. Coding assessments, I thought those were very interesting because it's hard to really stand out when you're doing these LeetCode style problems, and it's just a pass/fail sort of thing, right? Couple that with not being able to dynamically respond to an interviewer where... Hirevue is a platform where they give you some prerecorded questions, and you have to... You still prepare your normal script to responses, but to... I don't know, I find it a little difficult to respond naturally to that.

Alex from Scrimba:
What do you think changed between the middle of January? Do you think it was just the market that changed, and there was more uptake? Or did you change something about your approach?

Justin:
It's hard to say because when you're preparing for these applications you're changing so many things. You're constantly changing your resume, constantly applying to new roles so I still... I have a feeling that maybe I was still a little impatient, or just... It was my first time applying in eight years. I had worked with my past company eight years, and mostly applied it internally so the feedback from application to next steps was maybe a little slower than expected, especially for some of these larger companies. Some of them I I applied back in October, and I get maybe a response in January, and that could just be the business cycle. A lot of these businesses work in quarters, and they say "Our hiring is going to start picking up in January", and it just gets progressively quicker from that.

Alex from Scrimba:
For sure. I've heard stories of people who've applied to companies as big as Google, and then they don't even get a response for two or three months. But when they do, it's like "Hey, will you come into an interview?" Is that what you're describing? Was it a lagging effect, or was it that the new applications you were sending in towards the end of January, beginning of February... Were you seeing a quicker turnaround in terms of interviews getting back to you?

Justin:
Yeah. Certainly the smaller companies, they have the ability to be a little more nimble, and they... The actual role I got was through a recruiter that connected me with the company. They were looking for some very particular skills, especially on the Python side, and that led me to getting an opportunity to interview with them directly. I think some of the larger companies... I applied to a government job, and it was... They have me a time frame, and it's up to six months with everything. Six month to a year just with background checks, and such. I guess it pays to apply early to a lot of these roles, even if you're still learning because it can be a bit of a wait before you finally hear back.

Alex from Scrimba:
So I think stacking... Resumes, job processes, there is no science. It's all fairly subjective, and so stacking the dak in your favor, strengthening your position as a candidate basically, and following good hygiene and stuff like that when it comes to resumes and following up after an interview, and that kid of thing. But also just playing the numbers game. Sending as many applications out as possible could be a devisive topic because some people prefer the sniper approach where they find a very specific small sets of companies they wish to apply for whereas others, and I think you fall in this camp, take more of a shotgun approach where you go broad.

Justin:
Yeah. I don't even know... I follow some of these red communities like CS career advice, and such, and you do see a lot of people saying "Oh, I put in 300 applications, 400 applications", and I feel like I was trying to strike a balance there where I knew there was certain companies everyone is going to apply to. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, just to take their shot. But certainly look through lists of big startups in Austin which is close to where I'm located, and see who's growing, and apply there. But you also just start looking for keywords that match. On Scrimba we'd been focused on React and JavaScript and [inaudible 00:06:36] and stuff, so those were the... My first priority when I was searching was looking for roles that had React, and apply to those first as I work through the day. And then later I'd spend a little bit of time on looking for Python, or [inaudible 00:06:52]. Little less common in the market, certainly around my area.

Alex from Scrimba:
Justin, when you first showed your resume... I imagine it looks quite different from what it looked like when you finally got that job. I'm curious from all the discussions you had in the Scrimba discord, and likewise all the other things you learned online, what were the high impact things you changed about your resume? Or maybe you found it didn't matter as much as you first thought.

Justin:
Yeah. It's a little difficult just because of that long feedback time we talked about. I tried keeping track of the different resume versions. I must have 20 to 30, just changing little things here and there, and certainly some of them were just small type of fixes, but some of them were major overhauls. Originally I'd gone with a graphic resume which is probably more common outside of the US where you have photographs, more design focused. I could tell that these computer science communities, software engineer communities were real split on whether that's a good idea to send a resume with your photo on it. And I'm still not sure if that's the right thing or not. Some people said the "They'll laugh you out the door". Some people said "The only way to stand out is to have a resume that doesn't look like... Was made in 1999."

Justin:
It was tough for me because my background was... I had been a chemical engineer, but working as a petroleum engineer for eight years, and my official title never said software engineer. So my focus was in the domain of petroleum engineering which is just Reswar as well as how to... Worked for companies like Shell and Exxon. We were [inaudible 00:08:49] services provider so we were trying to make better wells for them. You just try to understand the science behind it, but on the side we worked with a lot of spreadsheets, a lot of flac files. In some ways that... It's very difficult when you have... The same reason in software why you use GIT, and BitBucket, and these kind of version control tools as well as other collaboration tools like Slack, and that kind of stuff.

Justin:
So in the oil fied when you're all working on the same spreadsheet file, and you're taking turns touching it, quickly becomes a big mess. So learning programing just made sense on the side. And it was certainly an easy way to stand out just because everyone was focused on... I have a 12 hour shift to fill so let me just get through the day. But we had a lot of down time especially in my early years, so just filled that with learning programing.

Alex from Scrimba:
I recognize that about you. Programing was something you picked up on the side almost with regards to your previous job, and then translating that into a resume that would get you a job more focused on engineering. How you position yourself, the way you phrase things, there's definitely a delicate balance in that. But I think you make a great point that for all the advice that exists, and opinions about resumes... Well, it's really not a truth you'd have to do an experiment. And an experiment has to be controlled, and unbiased, and you want that short feedback loop so you can associate with the input with the output, or something like that. And in the case of applying for jobs it's really hard to draw that correlation between what is it about your resume that stood out, and got you the interview at least? So then maybe it's helpful to refer to our subjective experience. What do you think... Did anybody mention in any of your interviews something about the resume? Or maybe you noticed they picked up on a certain part of it that might suggest it was a good thing to include.

Justin:
Yeah. Certainly it was difficult to get much... You're not going to get every 160... Each of the 160 applications, you're not going to get feedback on it. It's just... Most of them are going to be automated, but when you do get that opportunity it's certainly helpful. My position was a little difficult, and we discussed it previously while I was getting ready in January. My previous title was project manager which means something completely different to the software community. Mine had a real deep technical element in addition to these logistical, and communication roles that I was fulfilling.

Justin:
So that was one thing, and then certainly... A lot of people saw that I had eight years experience, so it's difficult because not eight years experience as a software engineer, but doing these other petroleum engineer type things. So trying to not disqualify myself from junior roles, but also trying to get something more of a mid level role. It's difficult because some people see you as too senior, but then other roles they might see you as "Oh, this guy doesn't even have software in the title." A lot of times... But the resume... Reprocessed means quick, just a quick glance. It's hard to... You just have to really put in a lot of applications because a lot of times you're not going to... There's some luck involved certainly.

Alex from Scrimba:
Absolutely. Timing is a big part of anything. You might be the perfect candidate, it might just be the wrong time. What made you... What did that perfect combination look like in the case of getting your job? Can you tell us a little bit about the opportunity, and how you came about it?

Justin:
Yeah. So the one I actually followed through with... I was connected by an external recruiter, and it was... One of the benefits was it wasn't a consulting role, it was actually direct with the company.

Alex from Scrimba:
Sorry, Justin. Could I go back just one step?

Justin:
Sure.

Alex from Scrimba:
How do you even get in touch with a recruiter?

Justin:
Right. So certainly following the last module and Scrimba... I think Dylan did a good bit of that section where he was reviewing different techniques to improve your presence online. Of course resume is a big part of that, but also keeping an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. If you also go on my GitHub profile you'll see that I've... GitHub now allows you to make a more decorated profile. You can put badges and things in there, and you can... I also made a repo, and just dropped in a public copy of the resume that was... I took off stuff that would get in spam like my phone number, and email, but also put some of my certificates in there as well. It's hard to know if people looked at that because it's not tracked like on LinkedIn where you can see people viewing your profile, but certainly keeping those things up to date. And also having a developer portfolio which also is part of Scrimba. I took that and customized it, and added a few article pages discussing some of the projects we did.

Alex from Scrimba:
Oh, yeah. You had a wonderful presence. You had your GitHub README in order, LinkedIn... You had a portfolio as well, and I remember you were updating it along the way. Did a recruiter notice it, and say "Hey Justin, we'd like to talk to you about connecting you with somebody perhaps"? Or did you go to the recruiter maybe, and ask if they could help you in your search for a job?

Justin:
Yeah. He actually reached out to me, so-

Alex from Scrimba:
Awesome.

Justin:
And he told me that it was simply keyword matching. So this role, their focus is certainly very heavy on Python. It's a scientific role. We're doing software service for biology labs, and trying to take their spreadsheet-type workflows... Kind of like what I was doing in the oil field, and trying to make it more consistent so that rather than having a bunch of people working on one spreadsheet where you don't have tracked changes really, and putting that in a database, and putting it in a UI that's a little more user friendly. So yeah, he just did... These recruiters, they used a bunch of and statements, and combined keywords to try to find something that matches the role because their goal is to place somebody. That's how they get paid.

Justin:
I had taken a few of these LinkedIn assessments on Python and JavaScript, and passed those. I'm not sure if the LinkedIn assessment pass really factors in, but it certainly can't hurt. But just having those keywords in my profile, and trying to find ways where... I've used coding in the past, and updating the things I did at those jobs, I think that's what got visibility for that role.

Alex from Scrimba:
So it sounds like the recruiter was... I happen to know the company you work at is called ALSAD Informatics. This recruiter basically connected you with that specific role rather than some recruiters who do work with candidates on the more general basis. They'll get to know you a bit, and match you whereas it sounds like you definitely ran into the recruiter which a company hired to fill a specific role. Once you got that invitation to the interview, what did that process look like?

Justin:
Yeah. It wasn't that much different from a normal interview process. Your phone screen is more so on the recruiter side, but after that... The first step as a coding assessment, and I did quite a few of those for different companies, and it's just kind of... They try to make a project at the small scope, and often times it'll be somewhat relevant to the role. This project asked me to use Python with a framework called Tornado, or I also had the option to use Flask. And all that framework is... It's an opinionated way to implement this large Python project where you have different backend routes to [inaudible 00:17:42]. You'll connect to your front end code to that, so I kind of... It was a scientific application, it's a science company, so they gave me some spreadsheet data, and just had to crunch that, and clean it up. You can do that in JavaScript as well, it doesn't have to be Python.

Alex from Scrimba:
Right. It's like a CSV file by the time you input it, right?

Justin:
Yeah. It's not that much different than what you'd be doing on Scrimba. Even in the JavaScript, those coding challenges that we did, you take a bunch of maybe a string of values, and break them up and put them into a more consistent data structure like a list, or a dictionary. And then you start manipulating it to the specification that you're given.

Alex from Scrimba:
I hadn't heard of Tornado previously. It turns out it's like a web framework. So the reason why I think that's interesting is because you're describing this dated processing side of things like taking an XLS, or a CSB input and processing it somehow. Where does the web framework part come into it, and is your job full stack basically? Are you exposing it as an API perhaps, or are you building it front end too?

Justin:
Yeah. It is very much full stack in that their two main technologies in their stack for at least in programing languages are Python on the backend, and they actually use View which is another JavaScript framework similar to React or Angular on the front end. It's certainly more, I'd say, Python focused. It's interesting because they have two major teams working on the code base. They have a core team that's working on a core platform. It's basically like single page application that you can step through.

Justin:
It has a post [inaudible 00:19:43] database on the backend, and they've already built out... We know the lab information, management system that the labs going to typically need. And then my role as an application engineer is to customize that, and they might have... They have a workflow that they do in the lab, working with different instruments, and I'm trying to map that, and make different steps for them. Basically it's like a lab worksheet form, so they start filling it out.

Alex from Scrimba:
Sounds fun.

Justin:
Yeah. Currently, from what I've seen, the front end is in two complex... The front end code that I'm working on, some of them are simple order form so you just... There's not too, too much styling involved other than positioning on the page. Certainly the Python side is going to be more heavy where you're trying to connect different... Even the customer, they'll provide us with scripts that we need to integrate... Python scripts that they've written because they're domain experts themselves, and they... So they're working in buyer informatics, and they're going to try to process their lab data coming in so they want to incorporate the script into their work flow.

Alex from Scrimba:
I'm curious, in the actual interview, and maybe more generally... I know the theme here is transferring your... You have a wealth of industry experiences, just a different industry. And so presumably there's a few things that carry over. I don't really know much about bioinformatics, or petroleum engineering for that matter. Is there a link at all?

Justin:
No. I mean, I wouldn't say so. And certainly I'm new to bioinformatics as well. They do things... Some of the companies we work for, they implement things like COVID testing, or kind of like agriculture life science. So they're trying to change plants. Basically like plant breeding programs, for example. One example I know just because one of my hobbies is a home brewer is hops for beer, you can breed them together, and basically put two plants next to each other, and you get a different hop type. And certain hop types do better based on different plant diseases that come through. Some of them will be more resilient to that.

Justin:
So they're just tracking the changes in these plants. They sequence the DNA of the plant, and see... "All right. What do these different markers tell us about its resiliency to disease, it's yield, and how it behaves?" So that's the bioinformatics side, but I'm still figuring that out on my own. But certainly all the software things are transferable like... On the petroleum side I was just working spreadsheets, and spreadsheets tend to have very dirty data that you have to try to make it more consistent, and that's what our software is doing. We'll put some different validations in so that when they select... Maybe they have a limited selection from the field, like a dropdown list. But also you might do different checks where you'll get a notification, and an error if you make a data entry mistake. So simple things like that, but...

Alex from Scrimba:
One observation, and I'm curious to hear what you think about this, is that of the 190 plus jobs you were looking at, presumably not all of them were so closely tied to your previous experience whereas in this case you've managed to... Even though a recruiter happened to reach out to you which I think is amazing, by the way, that you made your profile so attractive, and indexable that that could happen. Amazing. Even though that recruiter reached out to you, it sounded like there was a genuine synergy here between your previous experience, and this role.

Justin:
Yeah. It certainly just... Like I said, I was having difficulty finding... I was searching for Python roles both locally here, and San Antonio, but also in Austin, and it was much more difficult to find. Certainly there is a lot of JavaScript roles on the front end, but more so a lot of roles were requiring Java which is the backend program language, and Spring Boot which is another framework for setting up the backend side of the sites. So having a recruiter connect to that was certainly helpful just because it was hard to find that perfect match in terms of skills of what I've done, but also what these companies were looking for.

Alex from Scrimba:
Maybe it's less to do with the language because like you pointed out earlier with regards to processing the a CSV, whether it's in JavaScript and Python. It's the methodology that's the common thing actually. And I'm also wondering on here, you did a lot of data processing in your previous role.

Justin:
Yeah. That's very much true, and certainly what I was doing was similar to what they're trying to do for the [inaudible 00:25:19] where they're trying to take a spreadsheet-type workflow, a very siloed workflow. And put it together so that there's more visibility for their customers, and making sure that we can help them speed up their lab workflows. I would say that some of the other roles I had heard back from, it was exciting too because it was certainly... Getting connected by a recruiter is very helpful, and just because of the targeted nature of the match. But I didn't need to be a perfect match on everything, and I certainly wasn't for this role.

Justin:
Certainly Sequel is useful. A lot of our work will involve Sequel-type expressions, but some of the other roles... I wasn't applying necessarily to all companies. I was applying to... General Motors was one I applied to recently, and spent a lot of time talking to them. So that's the automotive industry. And I also heard recently from COROS, which they do customer experience work. They're also somewhat of a startup in Austin, and that role required Java knowledge. I recently, in the past month or so, had to do these coding challenges with... "All right, I better learn Java as quick as possible", but after spending a lot of time in JavaScript on Scrimba., and also with some of my previous experience in Python I was able to look at Java, and at least... It's very objectory focused versus more functional thing that you might see Java script-

Alex from Scrimba:
Justin?

Justin:
Yeah.

Alex from Scrimba:
Am I understanding you correctly in that you were applying to jobs which required Java, basically? And even though that isn't your go-to language you were still getting calls back from these jobs because they didn't care so much about the language as your general programing experience, and some of it's transferable. Did I understand that right? Were they getting back to you?

Justin:
Yeah, that's exactly right. Certainly I felt when I was putting applications in... Certainly if it said "Oh, this is a heavy React focused role, and Python is a nice to have", I'd be like "Oh yeah. This is my role." Of course that's not how it works. You can't just say "Oh, this application is going to be it, and they're definitely going to call me." If there is a slight match, certainly a... That's one of the advantages of working on the front end. You don't have this large grouping of different programing languages. It's very JavaScript focused. But because I had some experience in Python, but also I made the effort to teach myself at least the basics of Java I was able to communicate affectively in my interviews about it, and talk about some of the concepts.

Justin:
And I was very upfront. I told them I haven't worked in Java. In fact, I knew this was a Java role so I spent a day, or two learning the Syntax, and trying to translate the objectory stuff. Even JavaScript has object oriented stuff built into it now, as well as Python. Trying to translate that in Java. I told them that, and it was like [inaudible 00:29:02] "Ask you this question, but I don't think you'll know it." And then when you do know it they say "Okay, he's actually put some effort in."

Alex from Scrimba:
I love that. And there's a common theme. I'm speaking to a few people who've gone through Scrimba, and got jobs. The first thing is even if you feel under-qualified for whatever reason, it's still worth applying because you never know. But also, the language is like a... One of my favorite expressions in programing is that knowing English doesn't make you a great essayist, or a great story teller for that matter. And so the details of the language might not matter so much as understanding sequel... Sequel might even be too specific, but understanding a relational database theory could apply to any number of different database technologies. Or in the case of processing data, if you understand how to split, and structure a CSV using an object orientated language, it would be quite similar probably in Java, or JavaScript by how you define the class in the case of Java or something, I guess.

Alex from Scrimba:
But the fact that's all so transferable is really encouraging, and unlike wise... I'm just reiterate really, just to apply for those jobs you might not feel the most qualified for. Justin, I really want to... I think the most... There are a lot of interesting things about your story, but the thing which I think is the most unique about you is that you transferred industry... And it sounded to be like quite a good job where you'd worked your way up in the company, built a lot of experience. It's then very brave, I think, to then change industry. And I understand that COVID and all this... Maybe we'll not think about COVID today so we can keep smiling, but otherwise there were some external factors.

Alex from Scrimba:
If you were starting again today, or maybe if you imagine someone's listening who's also in a similar position, not sure how to present themselves... I can imagine that thinking about salary, and lifestyle and stuff might come into it because you are going from a more senior to a junior position. But also, I think, presenting yourself is very, very important because like you mentioned earlier, you were a project manger technically, but that might have a different connotation in your previous industry to this one. What do you think? What would you say to someone who was starting out?

Justin:
Yeah. It's certainly a challenge trying to figure out a way to... Especially if you haven't worked in a software roll, how to make your resume relevant to a recruiter on the software side. You certainly have to... You want to capture those soft skills for sure, but also you need to start gaining the skills on the programing side, and that includes... Just like we did on Scrimba, the front end path, but also doing some of your own research on MDN, and Google, and Stack, Overflow, and those tools. My resume was constantly being updated as I was completing new certifications, and implementing new projects.

Justin:
Whenever I thought one project was starting to come above another one in terms of my technical capabilities I would swap it out, and... Maybe sometimes I'd switch them up based on the job I was applying to. In terms of making a career change it's good to keep track as you go, and figure out as you do software things, or find relevant achievements that you've accomplished to take notes on those. Certainly I'm going to try to make it better for now to keep track of the things that I accomplished through my job roles so that the resume process isn't so difficult next time.

Alex from Scrimba:
That's very good advice. I need to do that myself. And I think you bring a lot of very humble attitude to this in that you... I guess by highlighting your projects, and the fact that you were doing Scrimba modules in the front end career path, and stuff, you really communicated implicitly that you were a learner. That you were very open to learning and improving, and likewise just what you described to me. That approach of continuous iteration, always taking what you learn to improve. That's not something I imagine you're just applying to your resume. That's the kind of principle you take with you to anything you do most likely, whether it's home brewing, or developing, or joining a new company.

Justin:
Yeah. I think that's certainly... Once I was able to get to that interview phase it's a lot more easy to communicate those kinds of, I would say, soft skills, but also just an attitude towards learning. It's something you'll hear echoed a lot throughout different learning communities, is making sure that you communicate strongly that you're interested in software, and interested in learning about software. And even in those two interviews that they asked me about Java where I told them "Hey, I just know the syntax. I just tried to grind out the syntax, and translate what I already know to Java." They said "Oh, that's an essential skill, being able to learn quickly."

Justin:
Certainly you want to try to communicate that any way you can that you're actively taking part in your education, and you're not just waiting for someone to hand you the docs, and go through it page by page with you. It's not going to happen.

Alex from Scrimba:
No way. Maybe these are quite connected. One objection I think people might fear if they are more senior changing into another industry... I'm not sure how to phrase it so much as you might seem overqualified, and you might not be a good person to bring in because someone brand new, younger maybe, but new to an industry, or new to industry whether it's just any industry, they might be seen as being a blank slate. Someone more moldable, and teachable. How do you combat that as someone more senior changing careers?

Justin:
Yeah. Certainly we're all competing with new college grads in CS programs, and they've gone through some rigorous training on their own. Also all these bootcamp graduates from physical bootcamp schools in our areas. I would say trying to capture those... Throughout my eight year career, trying to capture those moments that some employer is going to find useful. So I spent a lot of time... In the oil field, we were growing very quickly so we onboarded engineers all the time. Our group grew from 50 people to 100 people in just a couple years. I worked in different areas, and that was the case everywhere. So teaching those classes to those engineers, and talking about that on my resume, but also during the interviews I think that was... Maybe it didn't connect with some of the recruiters who just were so laser focused on "Well, have you done .NET?"

Justin:
But someones going to connect with that, and say "You know, this guy could eventually be very helpful". A lot of these software companies are growing, and they're going to have to train engineers after you. So being able to help people...

Alex from Scrimba:
I understand you perfectly in that... I think there're two sides to it. The first is being humble by demonstrating how teachable, and how much you're learning, and open to learning you are. I think that's the first really important thing. But the second is you're absolutely right. As someone who has all this previous experience you have so much potential to grow into becoming a fantastic engineer, and a fantastic leader potentially much more quickly than any new grad, or person brand new to the industry. And so I think the fact you picked up on your unfair advantage is really astute, I think. And then the practical advice in terms of translating that into the interview, and making sure you surface all your previous achievements is definitely something people can take away from this. Like finding the commonalities.

Justin:
Yeah. I had posted by resume also on another discord community that was React focused, and [inaudible 00:38:14] was "This looks like a great software engineer manager resume", and I'm like "Yeah, that's great. I don't know if I'm going to be able to pull that one off." I think that certainly it's hard to condense that into one to two pages, but I think you're just going to have to put in the applications, and eventually someone is going to see the value in those bullet points that you put on there. And just try different versions, and eventually it's going to stick. And you've just got to be patient, and not give up.

Alex from Scrimba:
Resilience is so important. I think you embody that. 180... I have the number written down because when we spoke in January that stood out to me. 186 applications, and I think at the time you said something like 10 phone screenings. That to me... And I brought this to the team actually, and I explained, "Hey, I met with Justin. Really nice guy of course. I'm so surprised actually that he's not seeing success..." because you had the Netflix clone type project built. You had a portfolio, your LinkedIn was like... There were tweaks, ways to optimize it in terms of key words, and positioning which I know you iterated on quite frequently as you saw the opportunity.

Alex from Scrimba:
But still, it looked like you were doing everything right, but you weren't getting where you needed to be. And sure, there are always things you can change like... I do remember one thing you sent me was a word cloud of all of the keywords that appear the most frequently. And I can share this joyfully with you now because you've obviously overcome this to get a great job, but one of the biggest word was senior which I found quite surprising.

Justin:
Yeah. And that wasn't... I wasn't... I would have been happy to even jump on as a junior. I understood that coming on with the company, and not having that software engineer title previously, that's going to be a barrier. It's a barrier that you're going to have to overcome, but anytime a company brings on a new person they're taking a big risk on you because they're going to have to invest, and it's going to take you a few months to get you up to speed with their code base anyway. [inaudible 00:40:32] I was applying to a little bit of everything. Trying to put in five to ten applications a day, or... It wasn't every day, but it's going to take time, and you're not going to have 100 junior React roles to apply to. You're going to have to take a few shots on things that aren't an exact match.

Justin:
Some of these companies are honest. They'll even say in their job postings... I came across a lot of that saying "We're not looking for a 100 percent match". Certainly some are going to try, but there's always going to be companies looking for the perfect match, and they have the luxury of waiting for that perfect match to come into. But you just have to give it a chance, and... I applied to a lot of senior roles, but sometimes they might even be open to hiring someone at a mid level, or maybe they'll see you as a senior somehow. I don't know.

Alex from Scrimba:
Absolutely. I don't disagree with your approach in terms of going broad, and trying as many things as possible because even the long shots turn into very practical learnings sometimes in the feedback that you get, or what you see unfold afterwards. But again, I think the real key message here is to keep trying, honestly. On one hand keep improving as a developer, stacking the dak in your favor, but also taking every rejection, everything you learn whether it be from a new article, a new Scrimba module, or some advice you get, and constantly iterating. And trust, like in your case, that things will go into place.

Alex from Scrimba:
Justin, I think that's about all the time we have for this interview, and perhaps a nice note to end on because we're so happy for you here at Scrimba. It's fantastic to see you got the job, and I'm really glad to hear you're enjoying it.

Justin:
Yeah. I really appreciate all the effort your teams, and teachers have gone through to make these modules. And certainly it took me from where I had a basic... Was able to do some cool things in Python, but visually they weren't very impressive. Now I can make something that someones not going to be like "What? Why is he just giving us a JavaScript object in plain text?"

Alex from Scrimba:
Love to hear it. That's made my day. Thanks Justin.

Justin:
Yeah, thanks Alex. Good talking to you.