You’ve been scouring all of the online job boards for something in the software development and engineering field for a few weeks. You might have even had an interview or two, but those went nowhere. You need a job, and the faster, the better. Here’s how to find, prepare for and ace an interview, proving your coding chops and impressing your potential employer.
Upgrade Your Job Title
First, when looking for a new job, try to get a better title than your last job.
Even just being a “manager” can result in a median pay bump of $3,000, according to Earnest. Rather than just being a “staff developer,” which could be a difference of about $15,000, aim for the stars. Even “associate developer” or “assistant manager” carry a higher salary.
How are you going to prove you qualify for an upgrade in job titles, and thus a better salary?
Keep a Portfolio
These days, it’s important to have a personal brand to stand out and get ahead in your job prospects. What does this mean for you as a coder or developer? First, start a blog.
Blog about a mishap you had in coding and how you fixed it. Figured out a way to do something cool or interesting? Blog about it. Learn something new in a new coding language? Tell the internet about your experience.
Host your blog from your own website. On that same website, have a portfolio of your works. Include this in your resume and cover letter and show your prospective employers your work rather than just telling them about it.
Link to your codes and projects on GitHub, as well, as you can bet a prospective employer worth their salt will check your code.
Finally, use social media to continue building your brand. Use it as an intro to your blog. Recruiters will often check your social media to get a sense of you as a person rather than just a nameless, faceless office drone creating software.
You’ve made it to the interview. The question you were just asked would have an obvious answer on any other day, but you’re sweating it right now. How do you prepare for the onslaught of questions?
Practice your coding. Use a whiteboard and talk out loud, explaining your reasoning, how you are solving a coding problem.
Ask a friend to pose questions for you and get feedback from them. It might be prudent to brush up on your CS and coding knowledge, as well, whether it’s from books or online tutorials. Take a course in an area you are unfamiliar with if you expect it to be part of the job. Have some of the skills already.
Another reason to ask someone to help is to show off soft skills. Sure, you might be able to code, but how do you show you can think critically? What does it matter if you aren’t able to communicate with a team lead or someone from another department?
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Finally, if you aren’t able to be physically present, and the interview is conducted digitally do a test interview. Adjust the lighting, make sure the background is simple, test the mic and camera, and dress appropriately. You might be at home, but it’s still a job interview. Test everything out beforehand to make sure you look professional, and most importantly, the program works correctly. If it’s a phone interview, make sure you are also ready.
The major benefit of the digital interview is that you can set everything up beforehand. The lighting can look better for the camera, and you can keep notes off-screen to remind you of important pieces of information.
Keep At It
It may be disheartening to get a rejection email, but keep sending resumes. Focus on perfecting the process, and the outcome — a job offer — will follow. It’s a numbers game, and the more resumes you send, the more responses you will get. If possible, try A/B testing with resumes or cover letters, and see which gets more responses. Then, stick with that version.
If you can prove you have the skills and can pass the interview, your chances of landing that sweet coding job is good.