If you are a new Software Developer, I have a hard truth to tell you about what to expect if you are looking for work: It ain’t easy. Now, more than ever before, the technology industry is churning out more Computer Science and bootcamp grads into the marketplace. In fact, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, there were 59,581 degrees conferred upon CS graduates in 2014-15.
Whereas once developers only had to send a quick resume to get hired in 30-60 days, now job seekers need to do much more work and studying to get noticed. Placed on top of most people’s regular work responsibilities, hiring can easily take up to five or six months.
Because there is so much new competition, finding a job has become a numbers and networking game.
Let’s start with numbers.
To start, you probably need to send out at least 25-40 resumes a week, especially if you are new to the industry. You also need two types of resumes: One for the ATS-Applicant Tracking Systems that many companies use and another “fancy,” one that is well formatted and appealing to Recruiters such as on Etsy. If you are sending an ATS resume, I recommend your content is sprinkled with well-thought-through job description keywords.
For example, if the job description describes a front-end focus, your resume should include “front-end.” If it says backend, your resume should say “back-end”. Of course, you should be proficient in the language. Keywords are important. But that is only one small part of the search.
The networking aspect is just as important. While career professional have said for years that “it’s not what you know but WHO YOU KNOW,” that is definitely the case now. Traditionally, Software Developers are categorized as introverts. But you no longer have the option to lean into that personality model. In today’s market, job seekers need to be extroverted and have to spend a great deal of time networking. From local Meetups to direct cold messaging on LinkedIn, job seekers need to push themselves beyond their usual comfort level to get useful referrals.
An interesting aspect that will help job seekers excited about networking is that most tech companies today offer their own employees generous referral bonuses. As a result, it behooves those employees to refer promising potential candidates to their companies. Having a structured networking and follow-up plan is essential to stay in the loop of someone who is working at a tech company.
Another key point is to not get down in the networking process. Remember that everyone knows being “job seeker” is a difficult job in and of itself. In general, people enjoy helping other people, especially if they have a financial incentive.
In the Bay Area, you can find tons of Meetup groups and networking opportunities if you look for them. But here is some more free advice: You do NOT need to go to tons of tech meetups — they are mostly filled with people. Instead, look at other opportunities such as the gym, yoga class, and business networking events.
Realistic Job Expectations
The search is tough. Besides putting out many applications and networking, there is more to do!
Typically, a job seeker will have to do all of the following: Pass a quick phone screen, get through a technical testing hoops, and then, finally, an onsite interview that can last anywhere from one to six hours. Know that the competition is fierce, and many new software developers have what we commonly call the “Impostor Syndrome,”or the negative internal voice that says “I’m not (fill in the blank) enough.” But stay strong. There are a lot of jobs out there and everyone’s path is different.
People new to the industry must have a very structured job search schedule. This includes applying, networking, working on projects, studying of languages, pair boarding, algorithms, trivia, and data structures. And no two companies interview the same way! Yes, it is a lot of time, prep, and work. But hard work is always worth it.
At the end of the day, there is a beautiful “carrot” at the end of the stick for most software developers. Here in the Bay Area, typical earnings can range from $95-125k. Areas like Seattle, NY and Denver are growing strongly as well. The hard work pay off if “newbies” to the market are ready to be aggressive and put in a lot of work.
Are you ready?