Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Land a Job as a Software Engineer

Job InterviewMy company is hiring again. It's a bittersweet process for me because I love meeting new people and getting new perspectives (and God knows we need the manpower -- er, person-power); however, it is a very frustrating process to endure parsing all of the resumes, selecting the first round for interviews, interviewing, rejecting, being left empty handed.

I started working with Emerald Software Group about three and a half years ago, and have been responsible for evaluating the technical capabilities of our job applicants for the last several years. Sitting on the other side of the table has given me some insight that I'd like to share with job seekers (especially, my fellow software engineers in need of gainful employment).

This is actually the first post in a series of posts about landing the perfect job for you. Nota bene, I didn't say "landing your dream job." I said, "landing the perfect job for you," because your dream job may not be the perfect job for you. For example, my dream job is to drive a Hog for the USAF, but alas the perfect job for me is as a software engineer. I just wanted to make this distinction now because the topic is going to come up again (and again).

Your Resume

I'll be starting with a post about resumes. After all, a majority of our applicants are eliminated before I even see their resumes. Then, I eliminate a majority of the remaining candidates before we invite anyone to interview. I know there are thousands of blog posts out there about resumes, but I want to be completely frank about it. Learn more about what a hiring manager looks for in a resume.

Your Prescreening

Next, I'll discuss the prescreening process. For those of you who don't work in a technical field, you'll probably find this a little foreign. A lot of technical industries have developed prescreening processes to establish your technical capability before you ever set foot in the building. For software engineers, these tend to be basic framework / language questions and some cute and clever programming tasks. I will give you hints to get the most out of your experience with the prescreening questionnaire.

Your Interview

Here's a great place to make an impression (or a great place to really screw it up). A good interview is a precipice. Keep in mind that your interviewer is not looking for a reason to include you in the next round of interviews; your interviewer is looking for reasons to exclude you. The ultimate goal is to eliminate all but one applicant and you want to make sure that it will be you if it should be. Here's how you make sure your job interview goes well.

Your Communication Skills

Communication skills are important even in technical fields. The way that you communicate says a lot about what kind of employee you'll be. People want to know that they'll be able to understand you, that they'll enjoy working with you, and that you'll bring something to the table. We can tell a lot about a candidate by the way they communicate with us. Learn how to communicate effectively and land your software engineering job.

Your Field

I thought long and hard about whether this should be the first post or the last post on the "How to Land a Job as a Software Engineer" topic. It's really the first step, but I've been saving it for last because I have a lot to say about this. I love writing software; if you don't, it'll show. In the post about selecting a field, I'll discuss what we look for when we interview job hopefuls. Selecting the right field for you is the only way to ensure that your perfect job is, in fact, your dream job.

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