From Skillset to Networking: Tactics for Standing Out in a Challenging Job Market

From Skillset to Networking: Tactics for Standing Out in a Challenging Job Market


11 min read


Is it worth the effort to become a web developer in a challenging job market? Absolutely! In this article, tech industry experts Matt Lawrence and Mike Karan will explain the tech hiring boom, the current tech hiring slowdown, and the actionable tactics YOU need to give you the best chance of landing a job in a tough market!

Topics covered in this article include:

  • The tech hiring boom

  • The current job market

  • Actionable tactics to secure a job!

The tech hiring boom

During the pandemic shutdown, there was a significant increase in the hiring of web developers. Even companies that were hesitant to employ remote workers were forced to adapt. Mike tells us that during that time, developers were offered six-figure incomes straight out of coding Bootcamps! But hold your horses! Despite this alluring scenario of becoming a "six-shooter hired gun" in six months, be aware that this gold rush of hiring was an anomaly.

Mike is not trying to discourage you with this insight, but instead, he wants you to be aware that the hiring boom has passed. It's essential to have realistic monetary expectations when it comes to becoming a web developer in the current industry.

The current job market

At the time of this article's release, there is a current decrease in the hiring of web developers, and some companies have completely stopped. However, Mike encourages us that the current market is not as bleak as it seems. Although big tech companies are not currently hiring as they once were, business for them is booming! So what does that mean for you? It means that downsizing at these companies is not due to loss of business but is due to the "over-hiring" during the pandemic shutdown. So, as long as these companies are in business, they will need web developers like you!

So now the question on everyone's mind is, "Is it still worth the effort to become a web developer in a challenging job market, and if so, how can I achieve it?

We all know that success happens when preparation meets opportunity. Matt and Mike advise you to take the following actionable tactics in the next article section to prepare yourself.

Actionable tactics

  • Level-up your skillset

  • Expand the range of industries you apply for jobs in

  • Network, network, network!

Level-up your skillset

For the best chance of landing a job in a tough market, Matt and Mike advise you to "level up" your skillset. After you have mastered the pillars of web development of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you can level up by learning CSS to Frameworks, TypeScript, and JavaScript Frameworks. Having these skills will not only help you stand out from other web developers, but you will qualify for more job roles!

CSS to Frameworks

What are CSS frameworks? CSS frameworks are pre-prepared libraries that provide a solid foundation for designing and developing responsive, well-structured web applications. Popular CSS frameworks include Bootstrap, Foundation, and Tailwind CSS.

Deciding which one to learn depends on your needs. If you are interested in employment, it's best to check your local job listings to see what hiring companies use. If it is just for your personal use, look into each one, try them out, and learn the one that best meets your needs.

To succeed in leveling up, you must determine when you are prepared to transition from vanilla CSS to a framework, and we've got you covered! Matt and Mike cover the CSS fundamentals needed before learning frameworks, essential concepts to understand, and additional learning resources, preparing you to become a highly sought-after developer in the article: Mastering CSS Fundamentals: Knowing When To Transition from Basics to Frameworks.


Mike informs us that TypeScript is a highly sought-after skill by companies. So, if you add this skill to your tech toolbelt, you will stand out among other web developers also seeking employment. Just like learning CSS frameworks, mastering TypeScript will give you a competitive advantage, opening the door to even more job opportunities!

So, what exactly is this TypeScript that I speak of? TypeScript is a programming language that builds upon JavaScript, adding optional static typing. It allows you to define your variables' data types, making catching errors during development easier and improving code readability. Unlike vanilla JavaScript, TypeScript can not be read directly in a web browser, so it must be compiled back into JavaScript.

To help get you started on your transition from vanilla JavaScript to TypeScript journey, check out this article that covers what it is, the basics you should learn, and additional learning resources: From JavaScript to TypeScript: Enhance Your Skills and Your Web Development Career.

JavaScript to Frameworks

To become a hireable developer nowadays, you will be expected to know a JavaScript framework. Popular frameworks include React, Vue, and Svelte. As with choosing a CSS framework, if you are seeking employment, check what the companies in your area require. If you're using it for your own purposes, as Matt suggests, try creating projects with each framework to determine firsthand which one suits you best.

However, to succeed in learning a framework, you must first master the essential JavaScript fundamentals. Once again, we got you covered! In a fun "Star Wars" themed article, tech industry Masters Matt Lawrence and Mike Karan will guide you through the JavaScript trials! You will build a strong foundation that will set you up for success in learning a framework, ultimately providing you with a competitive advantage in joining the employed side of the Workforce! Mastering JavaScript Fundamentals: Unleashing Your Framework Readiness

Earn certifications

If you want written proof of your "leveled-up" skills, you can learn how to code and earn certifications!


All of freeCodeCamp's certifications are FREE, so it's a great place to start! First, you can learn HTML and CSS with the Responsive Web Design certification. Next, learn JavaScript to complete the pillars of web development with the JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures. Finally, learn some of the most popular front-end libraries by earning the Front End Development Libraries certifications.


If you prefer a more one-on-one teaching style, Scrimba offers an immersive experience with its unique screencast technology that allows you to pause the instructions spoken by the instructor, edit and save your code, and then resume the lesson.

In addition to many FREE courses, they do offer a Bootcamp that provides you with a certification upon completion. To learn more about Scrimba, I have written over 50 articles on my personal blog, sharing my positive experiences with them.

If you decide to take any paid Scrimba courses, be sure to use this affiliate link, which will give you an additional 10% discount on top of any current offer!

๐Ÿ’ก Tip: As a developer, having an optimized LinkedIn portfolio will help you stand out and bring opportunities directly to you! I wrote this in-depth article on the topic.

Apply for jobs in other industries

While you might have your eyes on highly sought-after prestigious job roles at tech companies, Matt and Mike present an alternative option. Various other industries, including finance, retail, logistics, and beyond, continue to hire developers in the current job market!

Better yet, non-tech companies may only require you to work a standard 9 to 5 / 40 hour work week, potentially with union support, and might actually offer additional benefits that better align with your preferred work lifestyle.

So, by shifting your efforts to applying for developer roles at non-tech companies in the present job market, you will increase your chances of securing a job! Then, when tech industry companies resume hiring, you will have gained the essential developer experience needed to meet their developer job role requirements, further increasing your chances of being hired!

Networking is the fastest path to job security

A recurring tip I hear from industry professionals is that "networking" is the fastest path to job security. Whether you are looking to land your first job in tech, seek a new job after a layoff, or start your own freelance business, having a well-established network will best help you to succeed!

So, how do you grow your network? A great place to start is by building your online presence by sharing what you are learning. Check out this website to help you get started with the 100 days of code challenge. Once you publicly share your learning, start networking with fellow coders who are cheering you on!

Another great way to build your online presence and grow your network is to start a blog. I can personally testify to the positive career-advancing networking and opportunities blogging can provide for you, as it directly led me to the opportunity of becoming a paid freelance code reviewer and article writer!

Programming is a great skill

When considering if it is worth the effort to become a web developer in a challenging job market, I would like to bring to your attention that programming is a great skill, even if you do not intend to work as a web developer!

Benefits of Learning Programming Beyond Career Opportunities

  1. Logical thinking and reasoning

  2. Creativity and innovation

  3. Automation and efficiency

  4. Enhanced communication skills

  5. A better understanding of technology

  6. Increased adaptability

  7. Opportunities for personal projects and hobbies

Programming skills also help you stand out at any company you work for. It could also contribute to securing your position within the company and enable career advancement, as it did for me.

In my personal experience, I credit my programming skills as the reason I could keep my current job for 18 years and counting, surviving recessions, downsizing, and the pandemic shutdown.

Throughout the years, I've created multiple custom programs in Microsoft Office using the VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) language, which is still in use today. I've become the "go-to person" for anything computer-related, making myself, as my peers call me, "indispensable." As for my personal career advancement, when our company changed from its previous software to Produce Pro, I was assigned by management to become part of the team in charge of the migration of the old software to the new, was trained on how to use the new software, and I was put in charge of training the staff how to use it, including my direct manager!

So, my point is to emphasize to you that it is definitely worth learning how to become a web developer, as it will not only help you become a better problem solver, but it may also aid in you standing out and securing employment even if you are not officially a web developer at the company you work for!

HTML All The Things

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Episode 261 Why Is the Web Developer Job Market So Tough Right Now?

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Even though the current job market is tough for web developers, it is definitely worth learning how to program, as it can still help further your career. Learning how to code will improve your logical thinking and reasoning, enhance your communication skills, and give you a competitive advantage in non-related tech job roles, as it did for me!

To gain a competitive advantage, level up your skills by learning CSS and JavaScript frameworks, TypeScript, and earn certifications. You can also polish up your LinkedIn profile to help you stand out from the crowd and potentially bring opportunities directly to you!

To get your foot in the door as a web developer, consider applying for non-tech acknowledged companies such as finance, retail, logistics, and more. These companies are currently hiring developers, and their company may be a better fit for your desired work lifestyle. Once tech companies begin hiring web developers again, you will have gained the necessary work experience for the job roles, which can significantly improve your chances of being hired by those companies!

Time and time again, industry professionals all agree that the best way to secure a job in tech is to network, network, network! Grow your network by sharing what you are learning in public by taking part in the 100 days of code challenge, and consider starting your own blog to share what you are learning. Once you begin connecting with others who are following your coding-learning journey, you might be just one person in your network away from securing your first job in tech!

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