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The Best Strategy When Looking for A Software Engineer Job

5 months ago - Mark Ashton

The Best Strategy When Looking for A Software Engineer Job

It’s no secret that Software Engineers are in demand in Cambridge.  You only need to spend five minutes on the job boards of popular job sites to see that.  However, what is more important than just finding any old software Engineer job, is finding the right software engineer job to suit you, and your demands!

There are literally so many out there to choose from right now, how can you be sure that wouldn’t pass over the perfect job if you saw it?

In this post, I will provide you with some practical tips to deploy when looking for your next Software Engineer Job.

Be Clear What You Want and Where You Would Like To Go

Easier said than done, but one of the most important questions you will need to answer. There is no point looking at a map without any idea of where you are heading.  Think about the location, the technology, travel, benefits, colleagues, company culture, responsibilities and career advancement opportunities.  I know it sounds like a lot, but knowing which of these are important to you can really help you to narrow down your list of prospective businesses that are advertising for your services.  I would suggest ranking them in order of importance as well.  It might be a little unrealistic to think you can get everything on your list so it’s important to know which are the non-negotiables and which ones you could be flexible with.

Are you going to specialise?  Do you want to be fully immersed in a specific stack or will you be full stack? Do you prefer front or back-end development? Is it best to go after the biggest salaried positions?

This is why you need to consider your list.  Being a specialist is advantageous in some respects, but fairly limiting in others. What’s hot today might not be in a years’ time.  I for one believe that keeping your options open is not a bad thing. But then again, it’s your call; it’s about figuring out your preferred path.

Research is Essential

If you stick to the job sites when looking for a Software Engineer job, you will be inundated with options.  The more specific you are in your search, the easier finding that needle in a haystack will be. When searching it is important to consider a few key points.

Some companies will only list their jobs on their own website; not everyone used job sites.  If there is a specific company you have in mind, then check their website or even put in a call to their HR team to see what is available.  It could be a job was taken down recently that has been reopened, it could be that they have just received a resignation letter from someone within their team, you just never know until you ask.

Use your network.  There are a lot of positions that get filled through referrals from people who work at or are associated with the business.  Make sure that you leverage your network when looking for a Software Engineer role.

If you are going to dedicate time into the job sites, then it’s important to use more than one. You might find that there are a couple which is better for the type of SE job you are looking for compared to others.  Be sure to use their advanced filters and search term options as this can save you a lot of time.  Some of these sites even have filters for those who wish to work from home, or if you prefer a specific technology, as discussed in the first point, using search times like Cloud or AWS can really help to narrow down your options.  Don’t forget to sign up for the email updates to be informed of new posts that match your exact search as this can save you time and help you to respond quickly when a Software Engineer comes up that meet your criteria.

Another great tool is LinkedIn.  You can easily filter jobs by industry, salary, region and job functions.

Be Realistic about your Strengths

I know this goes without saying.  However, there is nothing more infuriating that someone who says they can X number of things, then turns out to only be able to do a few of those.  Be real, be honest and be upfront about your strengths and weaknesses.   As a Software Engineer, the key things to note down are your technical skills, unique project experiences, domain or specialist technology expertise, along with standardised skills such as working with others, presentations, etc.

Once you have made a thorough list, you can then enhance this list by digging a little deeper.  If let’s say you are looking for a Java Dev job, then listing Java programming as a strength is a little bit wishy-washy.  EVERYONE else will, of course, listed this somewhat obvious skills, and you will not really help the hiring manager to identify why these should shortlist you.  However, if you have a particular knowledge of NHibernate optimisation, this would be something that you would be well-advised to list, as it is something a little more in depth and less generalised.  You need to get granular when it comes to listing these strengths so that you can stand out from any other competition.

I know a lot of people who report that they struggle to find weaknesses, believe it or not, we all have them, and a lot of people have the same problem with knowing what to write down, or what to admit!  A weakness is better thought of as a development area, somewhere that a business can perhaps help you to advance by teaching you more of what you might need to know.

Social Media

I mention this a lot in my post but for a good reason!  Although it is not specifically related to finding a job as an SE, it is a must for anyone who is job hunting, so I felt it important to mention. I am not saying you need to use social media for business; it is a personal choice. However, you do need to make sure that if you haven’t set the privacy controls to super-secure, that you spend a little amount of time cleaning up your pictures because most of us in the recruitment business will take a look if we can!

LinkedIn is an important business tool, especially when looking for jobs as an SE.  You need to make sure your profile is clean, compelling and up to date.  Always try to get a few references from any job you have worked at.  It really helps to contextualise how people enjoy working with you. If you are targeting a list of companies, then you can use LinkedIn to connect with individuals within that organisation, both Software Engineers and HR Managers alike.

While you’re using Linkedin, you can see how your profile and subsequent experience stacks up next to the SE’s who already work for that company.  Linkedin is a great tool for getting noticed online; you can join a group where people in the industry hang-out, make comments and participate in debates in order to kickstart conversations with people.  All activities you undertake are listed for other LinkedIn users to see, so it’s a great way to help you stand out.

Whether you are currently looking for a job as a Software Engineer or not, it is always good practice to conduct the occasional search and keep things up to date with social media and your CV.

If you are considering looking for a role as a Software Engineer, you know who to call!