#TechTuesday: Job Search Tips for Becoming a Software Engineer

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A software engineer at Dropcam shares her tips on landing a job as an engineer. 

By Danielle Levinson  (Software Engineer, Dropcam)

When I started looking for a job as a software engineer, I had no professional software experience. With some hard work, I found a job where I am a contributor, where I am appreciated, and where I am challenged daily. I love my job!

Here are my top job searching tips for those who are switching careers into software:

1. Have Some Cool Projects On GitHub, But Don’t Be a Perfectionist

You want your projects to look awesome and your code to be beautiful, but perfection is not going to get you a job. If you have it stuck in your head that your projects need to be perfect before starting to apply, you’re never going to start the application process. Set aside some time each day for job searching and some for writing code. Start applying today while you continue to improve your code on GitHub!

2. The Job Descriptions You See Are Wish Lists

Apply for jobs even if you’re not qualified for them. There are not enough qualified candidates to fill all the software engineering positions that exist in the world. Some companies will decide to hire you because you are smart, diligent, hard working, have a great attitude, and are ready to learn. They’ll be willing to compromise on your lack of experience, trust me. Just get your resume out there!

3. Rejection is Hard, But Don’t Let it Stop You 

You will experience lots of rejection during your job search. This is inevitable. People are often shocked to hear that I applied for 120 jobs before I found my dream job. Be persistent and try not to let the rejection affect your self esteem. If you can, find a job search buddy to keep you upbeat. Just because some companies aren’t interested doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a great job. Keep going! You can do it!

4. Practice Whiteboarding

Most companies will give you multi-hour technical interviews where you’ll write code on a whiteboard. If you’re only familiar with writing code on your computer, this format may feel very different. Practice talking through problems out loud, explaining your thoughts, and writing while speaking. It’s even better if you can practice with a friend. You will want to feel confident and at home at the whiteboard when you get to your first interview.

5. You’ll Probably Receive Low Salary Offers Before High Ones

If you’ve received your first offer, congratulations! Please remember that larger, well-funded companies often move more slowly than startups with small cash reserves. If your first offer is low, don’t take it as an indication of your actual worth–the offer is often related to how much the company has to spend, not how valuable you actually are. If you receive a low offer, tell the company that you need to think about it and continue your search. Don’t be surprised if your second offer is significantly higher than the first.

Job searching can be incredibly stressful, but with hard work, I know that you’ll be able to find a job that you love. Good luck!

Our last City Meetup San Francisco was held at DropCam. Get a glimpse of the event.

Photo via @Photo.

danielle-levinson

About the guest blogger: Danielle Levinson is a software engineer at Nest. She graduated from UC Davis with a degree in design and a minor in computer science. She worked in the fashion industry before making her career switch.