Are there tech recruiters that can help a self-taught beginner get an entry-level job?

I’m in my 40s, self-taught via Codecademy, and trying to pull off a career change and work as a software developer after years of tech-adjacent jobs. I have a GitHub with some small personal projects on it, and I’m continuing to learn more and to work on more projects. I’ve been finding that the learning part is relatively easy; it’s figuring out how to navigate an unfamiliar job market that’s tricky.

A friend suggested I look into tech recruiters, who might be able to help me get a job in exchange for a commission or a cut of my salary or something like that.

How feasible is this? Are there recruiters who’d help a rookie (with a lot of non-tech professional experience) like me find a job? Or do recruiters typically want people with more of a professional background than I have so far?

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It depends on the job you’re aiming for and your portfolio. Right now entry-level software engineer is tough for people that just graduated with computer science degrees (I have friends that just graduated in CS this past June that haven’t landed jobs yet) so you’d have to realistically be able to:

  • have a portfolio that matches/exceeds them
  • be competitive enough for assessments (leetcode-style, “medium” difficulty questions)
  • know enough of the tech stack (or adjacent to it) that they ask for
  • know tools that help on the job: good enough linux, git, docker, databases, working with debuggers etc.
  • (nice to have) have some sort of extra background in the company’s area (for example, if it’s fintech, you’d have things in your portfolio that are finance-oriented, if it’s security, you’d have cybersec projects etc.)

In my experience employers have cared very little about my past years of work experience outside tech so I really just had to go by whatever I did after.

This is regardless of recruiter or no recruiter. Maybe look into networking through events and meetups where you live (I hear good things about the recurse center, which I think might still offer a remote option if you’re not in NY).

Still, it’s very possible. You just have to stay positive, stick to it, adapt to be competitive, and potentially have to wait a good while.

(obviously this is all subjective, take everything you read with a grain of salt)


Well, thanks for the soberingly honest answer!

Gosh, I hope this isn’t universal. I’m in my 50s trying to get out of teaching (secondary science) and just doing the odd bit of Codecademy when I have time in the hope of securing a tech job in 2 years or so. I hope I’m not wasting my time!

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Depends on expectations. Look up what kind of companies and roles you’re interested in and read/ask around specifically about what is needed to get in realistically. Then see if you can try to match that in terms of study, paths, etc.

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This has been a major difficulty for me (and one I’ve posted about on here before). As someone who’s brand new to learning these skills and to seeking a tech job, what I’m interested in, first and foremost, is whatever will hire me. Sure, I have my interests and my preferences, but since it’s all new to me, it’s kind of all the same. So my question is never “what do the roles that I’m interested in require?”; my question is “what job can I most realistically get?”.For instance, I’m pretty good with Python and haven’t learned C#, but if I found out right now that there are tons of entry-level C# jobs but not so much with Python, I’d go learn C# and look for jobs that way.

I know there’s no simple answer, but I’ve found it really frustrating when all the advice is like “look up what the roles you’re interested in are looking for”. It’s like if I was out in the rain and looking to get inside: I’m not interested in a particular TYPE of building, I just want whatever will let me inside so I can have a roof over my head.

If the entry-level job market is difficult right now, then this goes double! I don’t want to waste my time; I want to learn what’s likeliest to get me a job.

I get your point but specificity and intent go a long way. If you’re trying to go at it from what potential jobs will take you, you’d have to take a sample listing of entry level positions for roles you’d be willing to take (software engineer, QA tester, data analyst, cybersec, etc) and see the combo of where you are the closest to combined with which has the better ratio of supply and demand.

Even within a general role, there are specific specializations that some companies favor. For example with software engineer, you can have people that have data engineering toolsets, devops, site reliability engineering, web dev, game dev, operating systems, database engineering, etc.

For example cybersecurity often requires certificates, while certain sectors of software engineering are happy to take people with no college degree (while others only look at people with college degrees). Many software engineering roles heavily prefer people than can solve a good range of leetcode problems comfortably, etc. Machine learning roles usually require some form of master’s degree. The list goes on and the permutations are very large.

Knowing Python might be one part of the puzzle for some of these roles. My hunch is that it’s never just enough alone (not necessarily that one needs to know other languages, but some other sort of skills that go along with it).

For reference, on my end I am familiar with what early level software engineering roles require (only in the US). So I can give you feedback if you say, i have x, y, and z, i might be able to say if you get a, b, and c it might help your chances.

But maybe you are closer to a QA testing role (pure hypothetical, I don’t know because I don’t know that many QA testers and haven’t asked them about their process). So you’d go and investigate where people know what it takes and see what you would have to fill in.

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