How does an older job seeker get his foot in the door in web development?

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web buildingTerry from the University of Michigan – Dearborn asked:

How does an older job seeker get his foot in the door in web development? I have an Associate’s degree in CIS and am currently working on a Bachelor’s degree.

I have done freelance work and have it reflected on my resume. I also have an online portfolio.

I’ve worked in the automotive industry for years but with the last layoff/plant closing, I had the opportunity to go back to college and get a degree.

I am currently looking for a web developer position but not having much luck. Any advice for a older but dedicated worker?

Hi Terry

Transitioning into a computer/information systems industry was a good decision on your part.  I say that, of course, assuming that you enjoy what you are learning and your skills are well suited to the field.

Since just about every company has a web presence. there is nearly always a need for qualified web developers.  So what are the keys to being successful pursuing a career in web development?

Show examples of your web development work

You have an online portfolio, so you are headed down the right path!  What is on display there?  You should not show everything you have ever done.  You should show examples that illustrate your most current skills and the very best of your web development work.  No one cares what you could do a year ago as a web developer; they care what you can do now!  Impress them with your online portfolio and you will get their attention.

Keep your web development skills current

The “in-demand” web development skills change pretty quickly.  Your job is to stay current.  Make sure your web development skills – your software competencies – are up to date.  This is a supply and demand economy, so if you want to be in demand you have to be supplying something the market demands.  The market for web developers demands current skills.  No one want to hire you so that you can learn how to become a web developer.  They want to hire you to develop their website.

Monitor the job market

Who hires web developers in your community and how do they source talent?  What is the going rate for web developers in your community?  Are your compensation expectations in line with the market rate for web developers?

How do web developers in your community work?

Some work for big companies; some work for small companies; some work for themselves: some work as subcontractors; some work virtually; some work in offices.  There is not one answer to this question, and the answers that exist different from market to market.  Part of your job as a job seeker is to understand the employment market you wish to enter and use this understanding to guide your job search.

When it comes to web development, results matter – age does not!

Your age should not be in issue here!

Yes, I know that “should” is  the key word in that sentence.  Fair or not, your age can impact your chances in the job market in some fields, but I don’t think web development is one of those fields.  What matters here is what you can do.

If you can deliver quality results, on deadline and at a reasonable rate, no one will care how young or old you are – they just want the results.  Your portfolio is your best opportunity to show your stuff.  Manage that carefully because it is your calling card.

Hope this helps!


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2 responses to “How does an older job seeker get his foot in the door in web development?”

  1. […] How does an older job seeker get his foot in the door in web development? […]

  2. John F. Fruner says:

    @Terry: I support all of Matt’s suggestions and comments here. Self-awareness, which requires some purposeful reflection, and knowledge of your target employer are essentials in creating an image of yourself as a prime candidate in the perception of a prospective employer. In my experience, hiring managers like applicants who convince them they can do the work the manager needs done, applicants who are honest about their job-relevant work/personal history so they’re satisfied there will be no surprises or regrets later, and even better, candidates who can offer personal and professional references from someone they know and trust, which is all that need be said about the importance of professional networking. Things are looking better in Michigan recently. Best of luck in your job search!
    I’m doing a research study on Michigan knowledge workers age 50+ and how they’re connecting with job opportunities. If you’d like to contact me, please email at john.f.fruner [at], or DM @frunerj on Twitter.