Whether you are a recent computer science graduate, a person looking to change careers or someone eager to make a living writing code, the advice I would offer below can help you and anyone else if the goal is to get a job as a software developer. While the advice is nothing secret or even unique, it is still valuable as a reminder of a few steps you can take to give you a greater chance to get an interview and a job.
The inexperienced programmer
You know how to code but have no working experience, now what? like you, many people with the skills and even the right attitude might have a hard time getting job interviews when no professional experience is under their belt yet. Unfortunately, many recruiters and hiring managers can’t or won’t help you as they feel you are not an ideal candidate if you are unable to show some work history in the field. Because of this, you have to demonstrate your ability and skills in some other way, you need to stand out. This is a common problem for people who just graduated with a software engineering degree or have learned programming on their own.
Here is how you stand out, you can contribute to open source projects, work in your own projects, write blog posts related to your field and participating in sites like Stack Overflow.com; All of this can greatly increase your chances of being noticed and selected for an interview. It is possible that clueless recruiters will still ignore you for programming jobs that require experience, but that is OK. Having something to show your knowledge and passion for software development is in my opinion, more important than a resume filled with multiple programming jobs.
The experienced programmer
You have accumulated a few years or perhaps a few decades of programming experience under your belt and are looking for a new job. For someone like you, getting an interview might be challenging and scary too but it doesn’t have to be. While you can show that you have professional experience with software development, you still need to find out a way to stand out from the crowd and you also need to avoid showing yourself as a one trick pony. Show that you are not only an expert in one programming language but also someone who thrives to learn and play with other programming languages, frameworks and technologies.
As an experienced professional you can distinguish yourself from other professionals by learning other valuable skills such as the ability to communicate clearly, organize and deliver projects on time among other things. Also, the advice given above to inexperienced programmers apply here as well.
Something that experienced developers don’t do enough of is teach, yes, if you have the experience and right attitude teaching others what you know can be very beneficial for you when looking for your next opportunity. Teaching can be done in different ways, giving talks to user groups and meetups, mentoring code newbies, sharing your knowledge via blog posts, podcasts and essays, etc. Whatever method you prefer, placing yourself as a software authority can and will put you in a short list of very valuable software professionals and getting hired by a great company won’t be hard at all.
Networking is also key, I cannot tell you how many people I have seen find software development gigs in events such as meetups and other networking events. It works. Bottom line is that while networking and meeting new people doesn’t come easy to some of you, the benefits of meeting and talking to new people in your field is not only necessary but very useful. Attending events related to your career or industry can be very time-consuming, that is the truth. However, if done properly it can be a great source of job opportunities. My recommendation is to get out there and meet new people, you never know what opportunities might be out there.
Networking has many benefits, apart from growing your network, talking to people gives you the opportunity to improve how you describe yourself and what you do, this can help you be ready for the day of the interview.
Learn about the company and job you are after
This is obvious but I have interviewed many people who weren’t aware of the details of the job or even the company when they came for a job interview. This is a red flag for an interviewer, it shows that you either did not have time to do your research which is not a good sign, or perhaps that you just don’t care.
A good way to learn more about a company and a job is to contact people who are already working there. You can use LinkedIn to connect with people who are working in the company you are interested on and ask them about their experience there. You can also go the company’s LinkedIn page first and see if somebody in your network works for that company. Once you connect with someone don’t be afraid to ask questions, most people are happy to answer questions about their jobs and where they work.
Be prepared for the interview
All of the points above are about helping you get noticed and get an interview, let’s review what you need to do to be prepared for the day of the interview.
First of all, please make sure you get there on time and dress appropriately. This does not mean you need to wear a tie and a jacket but instead that you match with how people dress for that job in that company. Dress codes are usually unheard of in software development jobs, but there is still a lot of people out there that will advice you to dress with business attire but I disagree. Most people in this field dress very casual, today’s companies and managers understand that talent and professionalism can’t be measured by how well or bad you dress. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you should wear sandals to your interview. You should still clean up yourself and wear clean clothes with closed shoes preferably but feel free to wear a t-shirt and jeans or shorts if you go for an interview at a tech company where t-shirts and jeans are the dress code. The idea here is that many companies hire for people who are a good fit not only because of their technical abilities but also for their compatibility with the rest of the team.
Be prepared to answer technical questions and maybe to write some code too. After all this is an interview for a software developer position. Nowadays is very common to have the interviewees show her/his code abilities by providing either some coding examples or by resolving a simple coding problem. Be ready, learn the subject and do not be afraid of telling the interviewer(s) when you don’t have a good answer to a question. In most cases, you also need to be prepared to spend several hours or an entire day interviewing many people in a company, this is quite common.
During the interview, show that you want that job, be enthusiastic and alert. You don’t have to be an extrovert to get a job, but when it comes to the job interview you need to show that you are passionate about the job and your career as well. Interviewers are always looking not only for technical expertise but also for personality cues that can help them figure out if you could be a good addition to their team or not. Be you but be enthusiastic, show that you want that job!
A complete online profile
A complete online profile in a site like LinkedIn or even StackOverflow or Github can help you a lot. What this means is that you can use any or all of these websites to enter details about you and your technical expertise and professional interests as well. Having a complete and accurate online professional profile opens the possibility of getting a job at companies you are not even thinking about, without much work and just by communicating what you are all about and your skills in any of the websites mentioned above.
Make sure the information you share is valid and avoid posting childish or stupid stuff online, it can affect you and be assured that many employers search as much information online as they can about potential candidates.
That is all for now, if you have other tips that can help people find a software development job please add them to the comments below. Feel free to reach out to me directly, ricardo-at-ontechies-dot-com, with ideas or feedback about how we can better meet your software development career and education needs.
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