Apologies for being a month late with this post. I’ve been very busy with moving flats, but now I’m getting back to it and going through my backlog.
If you’re a grad, you’re probably thinking about starting to apply or have already started “the process”. Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll be interacting with, in my experience. I have sorted these from the worst possible to the best possible, at least in my opinion:
6. Big online job search engines of any kind
This is the category where all the big names that exist in the job search industry would fall in, as well as some of the not-so-big. I’m not giving names because that would be singling out certain websites.
Anyway, I got nothing but spam and noise from these websites. They may work for some specific jobs areas, but for entry-level tech jobs, they just wasted lots of my time. I advise against even making an account. Of course, YMMV.
5. Online applications on company websites
This is way better than the search engines because it at least guarantees your CV/resume will be in the system for the company you want to apply, as opposed to floating around the Internet. It also allows you to adjust your CV and cover letter for that specific company, making it a tad more efficient.
That being said, it’s still not that great and will most probably be ignored. But let me stop there and make this very important point! The experience you’ll get with small companies is very different from the one you will get with large companies. With small companies or startups, applying on the website generally means sending your CV to an email address where someone is almost guaranteed to read it. I think it’s a pretty good way of doing it, if you know that the company is hiring. For a large company though, it will be about filling out an annoying poor web application and no guarantee that your CV will ever be seen by human eyes. From some inside information I have from recruiters, most companies use this for creating a database of people with specific skills for when those skills are needed. As an entry-level developer, that’s not you.
So I would strongly encourage this for small companies, but for big ones… do it sparingly, because most often it’s not worth the effort. (I should note here that I did get my interviews with Google through an online application every time.. they seem to be an exception to the rule, surely not the only one)
Either I don’t know how to leverage LinkedIn properly or it just doesn’t help that much for entry-level. The only real job offers I managed to get through LinkedIn were after I became employed (mostly from headhunters wanting to grab a GS employee). That being said, it doesn’t take too much work to build your network and to update your status as you’re looking for jobs… I know of a few friends who got jobs that way because someone noticed their status, so it’s worth a bit of your time.
3. Small, sector-specific search engines
This is cool stuff. As far as all different categories of search engines go, this was probably the most successful one in terms of noise. You can search around for a bit, but one of the best I’ve used is careers.stackoverflow.com. I dare say that I got an answer from almost every employer I contacted through this website and several interviews. Also no spam came to me from the website, which is no small thing to mention.
If you have a Stack Overflow profile and are active on the website, that’s even better.
There are almost guaranteed to be some local tech meet ups in the area where you are looking to get a job. Join them and use them for finding people. If you are already living in that area, go to as many events as possible, meet people and try to leverage that. If you do it right, it can be extremely effective, because there is no way I can overstate the importance of face-to-face interaction. Also, if you’re interested in working in a startup, this is a great way to meet people in that crowd.
1. Real people
Chances are that if you have a tech degree, you made some friends along the way as well (at least I hope you did!). Some of these will be older than you and had already graduated. Reach out to them, see what they can offer. Again, I know many friends of mine who got job offers this way. Also keep in touch with your other colleagues who are job searching and try to help each other. Sure, you’re competing (in a way) for the same market, but it’s up to you how you decide to approach the situation to go around that problem.
0. Alumni connections & professors
This is a sub-category of the previous one, but I feel so strongly about it that I made it into a special category because it was by FAR the most effective for me. Though there were numerous and complicated steps involved, I essentially got the tip for my current job from an alumnus. I reached out to the alumnus through a professor. I had also previously received two job offers from alumni who had startups, one of which I would’ve probably accepted, has it not been for my intention to move to Europe.
This should really be the first thing that you do. Your professors have worked with you so they are trusted to offer first-hand sincere recommendations. Alumni like to help recent grads because they were once in your position and they trust professors’ suggestions for obvious reasons. Everyone wins out of this which is why it’s such an efficient way of going about it. Again, you should really make this your first approach and even if it doesn’t work right away, keep coming back to your profs and alumni periodically during your search. While I can’t guarantee that this will get you a job, it will definitely get you more results than all the others.
That being said, unless you’re connections work really well (and there is no reason why they shouldn’t), this will be a long and tedious process. Be prepared for that, plan well and keep track of who you’re contacting and how. With all that done well, you will make progress and you’ll be able to see for yourself what works more effectively for you and what doesn’t. Then, just focus your efforts where you see fit.
Up next I’ll probably write about interviews, because I really want to cover that, but I will probably come back and talk a bit more about some application tips at the end.