How To Land Your First Software Engineering Job

How To Land Your First Software Engineering Job

The popular American business magnet and the founder of the Microsoft Corporation Bill Gates said that: “Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering and software engineers are artists.” And yes, without a doubt the job of a software engineer is a daunting one!

Today, we can find numerous professionals who are hunting for a decent job. They forget that the first impression counts a lot – which is a good resume. A strong resume will help them make it to the first level of filter for any job they apply for. Job seekers should look at professional and modern resume templates to increase their chances of getting hired.

In order to get your first software engineering job, you need to follow certain simple rules. To save you a lot of time and stress, I’ve distilled seven key principles you need to follow for securing your first software engineering job. Let’s explore these rules one at a time.

1. Make A Comprehensive Portfolio Of A Few Outstanding Projects

In order to get an ideal job in an experienced software development company, it is mandatory for you to make an exclusive portfolio because mentioning one or two partially completed projects in your resume isn’t enough. The projects that you will mention in your portfolio might not be the perfect ones, but they should definitely show the progress you’ve made as a software engineer.

Let’s take an example that you are familiar with React, so there should be at least one React app in your portfolio. You should be prepared to discuss your project’s strengths and weaknesses with an interviewer. Also, you need to be creative while discussing your projects as if they are fun for you. Show your enthusiasm and passionate towards your work.

Sometimes it might happen that the interviewer will pull out your Github profile and ask you to walk them through the major projects you have accomplished. In such a scenario, you should not fumble, but navigate around your major projects smoothly and talk about one tough challenge you resolved in each project.

2. Prepare Rigorously For The Technical Interview

According to Jessica Gaston, the supervising producer of all3media: “One man’s crappy software is another man’s full time job.” It is perfectly appropriate in this cut-throat competitive marketplace. You have to make sure that you have sound technical skills so that you can get your dream job.

You need to polish your technical knowledge and prepare well for the technical round of the interview as it will only decide your fate. Also, you should  practice thinking out loud so that the interviewer can easily understand your skill set and temperament towards work.

One of the best ways of doing preparation for technical interview is to practice working without a code editor. You can use a whiteboard and a dry erase marker for this purpose. Most of the software development companies will ask you basic technical questions that are related to CSS, HTML, web performance, and JavaScript.

There are certain topic with which only the front-end or full-stack web developer should be comfortable. Some of these topics are async/await, CSS specificity weights, event loop in JS, the CSS box-model, and promises.

3. Describe What Kind Of Organization & Specific Role You Want

You should make a list of priorities of your new job. It will allow you to stay in charge of the job-hunt. Never let the job-hunt control you. You should be clear about what kind of role and organization, you are looking for.

The list of your priorities will equip you with the potential to choose the right company who follows a healthy work culture. They will provide you with the opportunity to work with modern and advanced frameworks. Also, there will be an interesting mission for you to get behind.

While giving the interview you are not only getting judged by the company. But you can also look for any warning signs giving a hint that the company is toxic or not a good fit for you. For example, if you find that a company has a very hectic work culture and no work life balance. In such a situation, it is better to not join it because it will be annoying for you in the future. You have to ask questions during your interview. These questions show that you are interested and involved with the process.

4. Stay Organized & Keep A Proper Track Of Everything

Once you are done with making your portfolio and preparing for technical interviews, you should pick some companies where you want to apply for a job. But the real challenge is to keep a proper track of dozens of job applications. It can seriously be a nightmare for you!

In order to handle all these applications, there are different tools available in the market. One such tool is Airtable, that functions like a spreadsheet, but provides you with a comprehensive database to organize and arrange everything. You can use this tool to organize and keep a track of emails, cover letters, job listings, salary ranges, written communications, meeting logs, contacts, etc. Airtable not only lets you stay organized but it also makes it easier to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the strategy of your job search.

5. Create A Meaningful Cover Letter & Resume

One of the main tasks is to prepare a meaningful cover letter and resume for you. Your resume and cover letter should be free of any typos or grammatical errors. Keep them short and to the point so that there are less chances of them getting rejected.

You should write your cover letter and resume in accordance with the company for which you are going to get interviewed. Don’t make them generic but create them in a specific manner. Take your own time to visit the company’s website and discover a genuine reason why you’d like to join that company. Also, avoid copying and pasting the ready-made templates and tailor them as much as you can.

You should highlight the most significant technical aspects of your previous jobs in your resume. For instance, if you worked for a nonprofit development and fundraising company as a “web developer”. Here nothing seems related to the web development domain. But you can highlight how you work on migrating data and managing fundraising software. This will allow you to demonstrate your technical ability before your work history.

6. Start Developing A Network

For getting a good job as a software engineer, it’s essential for you to be in the company of good and likeminded people such as developers and tech enthusiasts. For developing such a network you need to participate in local meetups and events. Also, you should attend lectures and Slack groups for tech professionals. It will help you to grow your professional network and grab the best job.

You can also connect with companies and people through your social media accounts. By connecting with existing employees of a certain organization, you can ask them to refer you for a job in their company. They will definitely do it because most of the companies offer referral bonuses to employees.

7. Don’t Ever Settle For Less, Keep Negotiating

Almost in every interview you will be asked to tell the annual salary package that you want. It can be frustrating at time because you are applying for an entry level position so you are in a weaker position for negotiations. But at the same time, it will give you an idea of what exactly the company is willing to pay you so that you don’t waste your time interviewing at a company that falls far below your desired salary.

For quoting an appropriate amount, you should conduct some salary research. You can look up the salary estimates for engineers having the similar level of experience in the same city on websites like Payscale. Also, for big companies, you can look their salary range on Glassdoor.

When asked about your expected salary range, you should be as polite as possible. For example, you can quote a salary range, but mention that money is not the only thing you are looking for. You want to join an organization where you can continue to evolve and contribute to the team. Also, be flexible while quoting the salary range, but make sure that the bottom of the range is something that you would be 100% satisfied with.

And once you get an offer letter, never ignore negotiating. You should negotiate not only for salary range but also for other things such as leaves, sign-on bonuses, delaying your joining date, etc.

Thus, it is not enough to focus on getting a job, but it’s better to concentrate on grabbing the right job at the right time. Once you join a good organization, it will be a lot easier for you to pursue the best opportunities in the future.

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Anubhuti Shrivastava

Anubhuti Shrivastava is an experienced content writer in the web development space. She writes regularly on emerging trends in the website development and analysis pieces that helps startups and companies build better web apps.

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