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How to get your first programming job. Start by talking to a recruiter

The easiest way to get your first programming job is to talk to technical recruiters in your area and find out what skills they need in candidates. Chances are they will tell you that they can place candidates with certain skills all day long.

Spend some time learning these skills and look for one or two small gigs that you’re willing to do at low cost or for free as a portfolio building piece.

Equipped with your new skills and work samples, you’re ready to go back to the recruiter or apply for these jobs directly as a highly desirable candidate with an in-demand skillset.

This is the way I personally got started in coding when I couldn’t get my foot in the door anywhere and a kind recruiter offered me invaluable direction. He told me I needed to learn Actionscript, the programming language powering Adobe Flash, and that once I had that experience that he could get me interviews all day.

I watched the Lynda.com course on Actionscript until my eyes fell out and found a gig on Craigslist calling for an Actionscript developer. I said I could do the job, not knowing if that was actually the case. The gig went fine and I was offered my first full-time programming job.

Years later, when Flash and Actionscript were no longer viable development platforms I updated my skillset with Javascript and since then have continued bolting on new experiences by following my interests and industry trends.

So if you’re feeling stuck, start that conversation with a recruiter today and find out what skills will make you a highly desirable candidate in their eyes.