How to Get Your First Software Developer Job, According to Hiring Managers


What does it take to land your first job as a software program developer? Recruiters are in search of somebody who is aware of how to construct code, check and deploy it, with an understanding of the software program growth life cycle.

The strongest software program developer candidates — particularly for startup jobs — are full-stack engineers (front-end UI and backend infrastructure/cloud service structure), however it’s not obligatory for each function.

We performed a sequence of in-depth interviews with hiring managers as we constructed our curriculum for the Software Engineering Career Track to perceive probably the most in-demand expertise and attributes corporations search for. Here are a few of these findings.

1. Learn all the technical expertise for a software program developer job

What expertise do I would like to have?

You have to be comfy choosing up new applied sciences, together with programming languages, instruments and platforms. If you’ve got expertise with manufacturing, that’s a serious plus. Often, new grads with out prior software program growth expertise have by no means written production-ready code. 

Experience with manufacturing makes an enormous distinction as a result of it consists of “not just building something and getting it working, but deploying it to production, monitoring it, understanding where things are going to break, things that might only work with a small user base and not a large one,” one chief expertise officer advised us. 

Software developer

What programming languages ought to I do know?

  • JavaScript (back-end)
  • Node (front-end)
  • MongoDB for storing information
  • React
  • Experience with a relational database like MySQL
  • Typescript (a nice-to-have however not important)

How can I show to a hiring supervisor that I’ve these expertise?

First and foremost, you need to be in a position to clarify your work course of as a software program developer. It’s not sufficient to say you possibly can write SQL. Can you additionally clarify how to use an IDE or textual content editor? You’ll be requested to speak by means of initiatives you’ve labored on, whether or not in school, a boot camp or a ardour undertaking. When you current your undertaking, the hiring supervisor ought to get a way of the way you strategy issues, choose explicit instruments and why

What varieties of software program engineer jobs ought to I apply for as a brand new grad?

Hiring managers advised us that smaller corporations or startups have a tendency to rent skilled software program engineers as a result of they want folks with the talents to make an influence straight away. This is as a result of even senior members of the staff are nonetheless particular person contributors (as opposed to being in a solely leadership-focused function) so they might not have the bandwidth to mentor a junior engineer. 

Larger corporations have extra formalized processes for coaching, mentoring and selling a junior software program developer as a result of they’ve a extra mature product and bigger groups. 

If you’ve got a whole lot of hands-on expertise, whether or not in a earlier function or ardour undertaking exterior of classwork, you stand a better probability of being employed at a startup. 

2. Understand the hiring course of for a software program developer

The commonplace hiring course of usually consists of the next:

  1. Resume display
  2. Phone display (non-technical interview performed by HR to assess tradition match)
  3. Technical telephone display (technical interview sometimes consisting of quiz-style questions and/or questions on your work processes and prior expertise)
  4. Remote telephone coding activity or offline coding problem (normally a timed check. Some corporations will compensate you in your time)
  5. Onsite interview (might contain some whiteboard coding) 

Here are another much less widespread screening procedures corporations might require:

  1. An in-person coding train (you carry out a hands-on activity for an hour)
  2. System design interview in a simulated work context with one other engineer the place you hypothetically construct one thing and talk about how to strategy an issue
  3. Behavioral-focused interview particularly on staff values/tradition match
  4. A presentation the place you’re requested to present a undertaking from class, a coding bootcamp, earlier job/internship or a ardour undertaking to assess your talent degree and problem-solving strategy
  5. A dwell coding problem the place the candidate shares their display with the interviewer, who observes their work

Tip: Many corporations rent new software program builders on a contract-to-hire foundation, even for senior roles. This means you’re employed on a contract foundation for a specified time, and if there’s a mutual match, the corporate brings you on as a everlasting worker. 

3. Differentiate your self as a candidate software program developer

The strongest candidates are lively on GitHub, contribute often to open-source initiatives, take part in hackathons, take on-line programs and show choose ardour initiatives on their portfolio that they’ll clarify in depth. Maybe you run a coding weblog or give out recommendation on Reddit’s r/learnprogramming — no matter it’s, you present a voracious urge for food for self-improvement and immersing your self within the coding neighborhood. 

  • You’re not afraid to Google issues

Despite the taboo surrounding Googling — in any career, not simply software program engineering — even the most effective coders can’t memorize the whole lot. Admitting that you just Google issues exhibits you might be comfy with it and also you’re good at looking for the data you want rapidly. 

Software developer

  • You checklist your most cutting-edge expertise on the high of your resume

Each tech firm has a prevailing tech stack consisting of their most in-demand programming languages. At Google, for example, it’s Angular. Bay Area tech startups are hungry for candidates proficient in React and MongoDB. Meanwhile, Typescript is rising in recognition throughout the board. Tailor the way in which you checklist your expertise to the function you’re making use of for to maximize your probabilities of your resume getting seen. 

  • You perceive the use instances for various instruments and programming languages

Even for those who solely know HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you possibly can present the recruiter that you just perceive how each works and the way they work collectively. If you be taught different programming languages, you make it some extent to combine it with what you already know, which is extra vital than being literate in lots of languages however not figuring out how to use them collectively to construct a bit of software program.

  • You’re a very good communicator who works effectively on a staff

The largest problem of working as a software program developer — particularly on a mature product — is that each line of code you write has a “downstream effect.” Say you’re constructing a brand new characteristic, any modifications you make to the supply code may trigger different options to break or battle with one other characteristic that’s being launched concurrently.

Things break on a regular basis — and generally the code you write by no means goes into manufacturing — so you’ve got to be ready to cooperate along with your teammates to attain an answer that works for everybody. 

“Teams are built on trust,” one head of engineering advised us. “And if I don’t get an early indicator that you’re willing to be open and honest, it will take a tremendous amount of work to build trust with you.”

  • You take possession of your work and also you’re accountable when issues go improper

Hiring managers will most probably probe for this with questions like: “Tell me about a time you missed a deadline,” or “Tell me about a time when you were responsible for delivering something and the quality wasn’t there.” A potential employer desires to know that they’ll rely on you to personal an issue when issues go improper, somewhat than assigning blame or dodging duty.

“If someone’s vague, won’t give a specific example or tries to spin it into a positive story, then I don’t believe them,” one head of engineering advised us.

  • You’re self-aware and you know the way to use your strengths

Even for those who lack work expertise as a software program developer, you might have transferable expertise from earlier non-software roles that make you a promising candidate. Most corporations try to develop their variety profile, and lots of are hiring job seekers with much less linear backgrounds. This is particularly nice information for those who’re within the midst of a profession change!

Coding boot camp or a 4-year diploma? Hiring managers say they don’t care the place candidates went to faculty, offered they’re proficient in programming languages, self-motivated and have a robust portfolio.

4. Be conscious of the areas the place software program developer candidates fall quick

In the applying/on their resume:

  • Candidates simply checklist applied sciences or programming languages on their resume with out giving a nuanced rationalization of how they’ve used it
  • Basic errors, akin to miscategorizing a programming language as a markup language
  • Lack of assist engineering expertise (eg: utilizing a debugger or textual content editor, monitoring logins and different analytics for an software)
  • Overemphasis on one or two languages. Candidates have to be in a position to present that they’ll choose up new instruments rapidly, even when they don’t want to be an knowledgeable in each
  • Their resume is homogenous/too related to different new grads. Most candidates don’t play up their pursuits exterior of engineering, and since they lack work expertise, most junior developer resumes look very related. Outside pursuits are more and more vital in a job market the place hiring managers emphasize a wider variety profile. For occasion, the CTO at a high sports activities journalism web site advised us that an engineer who’s additionally concerned about sports activities and media can be a “major plus.” 

During the interview course of:

  • Passion initiatives are too normal or related to what different recent grads have carried out. Not solely does it turn out to be unattainable to differentiate candidates, however hiring managers might take this as an absence of initiative or important pondering expertise. 
  • Lack  of self-awareness, so they might overestimate their talent degree or current themselves in an inauthentic method as a result of they need to land the function so badly. 
  • Lack of confidence and fundamental interviewing expertise. New grads typically assume that the software program engineering hiring course of is a purely technical one, with little to no consideration for gentle expertise. Conversely, qualities like communication and belief are the primary traits hiring managers search for ranging from the telephone display. Many junior builders additionally let interview nerves get in the way in which of utilizing what they’ve realized. If you get caught, converse up and clarify why. “I’m not concerned  if [a candidate] is stuck if they tell me they’re stuck for a good reason,” mentioned one lead software program engineer. 
  • Candidates get enthusiastic about working with particular applied sciences as an alternative of making an attempt to discover a function primarily based on match or their values. This could lead on to the candidate being rejected through the interview course of due to an absence of tradition match or eventual job dissatisfaction if employed
  • Their problem-solving strategy is simply too slender. Interviewers will typically give candidates actual, open-ended issues to see how they give it some thought. More senior candidates will begin at a better degree and speak about they system, whereas newer ones will dive into one thing very particular that they’ve carried out earlier than with out fascinated by the larger image. 




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