As a fresh-graduate, finding your first programming job can get overwhelming. Usually, every fresher has two pathways to choose from while hunting his first tech-job. You could either sit through college placements and compete with your batchmates to get jobs in companies that visit your campus. Or, you could spend nights on job-portals and LinkedIn trying to find the right job for yourself.
And that is not going to be easy. First of all, the more job-portals you’d sign up on, the more spam your inbox will get filled with. From BPO to Airline jobs, you’d get suggestions for everything except whatever is relevant to your specialisation. And if you actually manage to find an opening in a company you’d like to work for, chances are you’d not make the cut. Why? Because nearly 35% of open positions get filled internally through referrals. So yes, tech-hiring is as broken as it can get.
But that’s a discussion for another day. When you starting applying for jobs, whether through college placements or on your own, you skip a lot of necessary steps in the process. Getting the right job does not start at searching for relevant jobs. It begins much before that. It begins with you becoming a worthy candidate for the kind of job you’d like to have. Once you are set, you need the recruiters to know that you are worthy and stand out. And tada, you have the job. Though, this is easier said than done.
Getting a job that you deserve requires a step-by-step planned effort on your part. Here’s a list of steps you can take to land your programming job:
Step 1: Understand Your Requirement
Before you start on with any kind of research, you need to introspect. What kind of job are you looking for? Are you planning to work on front-end development or back-end or do you want to go full-stack? Does developing a mobile app interest you more or working on web-dev? To decide on this, you need to retrospect on what interests you more, what skills you have honed the most in your college and what you want to grow in.
After spending 4 years with coding languages of sorts, you may be able to arrive at the answer easily. But your introspection doesn’t end here. What kind of company are you looking for? Do you want to work in a startup or a multinational?
In the present times, with a startup erupting in almost every street corner, working in one often seems like an exciting option. After all, who doesn’t want to feel the rush of the startup hustle? With that said, many would want to go for a much more stable job at an MNC. (Pro-Tip: Weighing the pro and cons of working in a Startup v/s and MNC can help you decide)
Step 2: Build Your Resume
Once you are all set with the kind of job you want and the kind of company you are looking for, you have to build your resume towards it. And mind you, it’s not the same as making a resume.
For any technical resume to stand out, it must have something to offer that the others don’t. An HR spends 6 seconds on an average on each resume. Which means you have 6 seconds to make the cut, or your resume finds its way to their dumpster.
Your top priority should be your knowledge, skills, projects and internship. They don’t want to just know what you can do but also would like to see something in action. For instance, if you say you know React, go ahead and build a React app. If you say, you can build a website from scratch, turn your resume into a website. You can even add a chatbot to it, that answers questions about you that the recruiters may have. Cool, right? The point here is to let the work speak for itself.
Once that is done. Let others attest your skills a.k.a add certifications and courses related to your field of interest. Of course, you’d have to do those courses first.
Step 3: Serve More Than The Resume
You may have made your resume out but it a resume will not be able to convey your personality. It will tell your recruiter what you know but not exactly the kind of person you are. This is where a well-crafted cover letter and a thoughtful letter of recommendation can help you.
A study reveals that employers find cover letters to be a crucial part of the hiring process. A good cover letter explains the why behind your intention. It answers why you are applying for the said role and why you would be a good choice for it too. It helps you focus on elements of your personality that may not come up in the resume. For instance, you like to take ownership or juggle multiple responsibilities and so you apply to a startup. Now, this cannot be mentioned in your resume and hence you need a cover letter. Adding a tinge of humour or highlighting your major accomplishments are some of the things that can make your cover letter stand out.
Recruiters also like to judge the character of the candidate before hiring them. You can help them in this regard by providing them with a carefully-worded letter of recommendation. As it is your first programming job, you won’t be able to get recommendations from any ex-employers. But you can get recommendations from your professors or mentors you may have had during your internships. If you are struggling with how to ask for a letter of recommendation, here are some tips that can help.
Step 4: Interview Preparation
If you would have followed the first three steps, your application would most likely be shortlisted and you would be in line for an interview. If that’s the case, it’s time for you to prepare.
Going to a tech-interview unprepared is similar to walking into a crossfire without any ammunition or safety gear. A technical interview often tends to be intense even for the best candidates. Whether it’s the impracticality of the whiteboard or the constant gaze of the recruiter, candidates often end up getting nervous.
A technical interview is aimed to primarily to judge your knowledge and skills. But it also helps your recruiter know you as a person. You will have to brush up on the things you may have learned, practice on the whiteboard and be familiar to the common questions that are asked for jobs related to the one you have applied to. Apart from that, preparation differs for algorithm focussed interviews and those focussed around architecture design. As a fresher applying for your first programming job, your interview is most likely going to be around the algorithm. But this guide can help you nail any kind of tech-interview.
For those who remain busy preparing for the technical rounds, often get flustered in the non-tech questions. You may be able to recite the entire code for adding an automated notification system but you would fumble when the recruiter asks “Tell us about yourself”. Yes, it happens. And that’s because you didn’t prepare for it.
We are not asking you to cram up answers for all the possible questions and vomit them in your interview like a robot. But you can know the points you must add while answering some of the most commonly asked questions so that you don’t miss out something important or add something irrelevant. Some of them have been answered here.
Step 5: Keep Track Of Things
By now you would have been interviewed. So, does the process end there? Not really. You must keep a record of all the companies you applied to, where you got shortlisted, how many interviews you have given and how many are pending. Along with that, you must also keep a record of the offers you got and the ones you didn’t. At the same time, have a list of places you are waiting to hear from.
Follow- up with recruiters who haven’t gotten back to you within a week. It shows your interest in the job. It also is a good way of knowing whether you made it to the cut. Recruiters often tend to not respond to candidates to didn’t make the cut. Follow-up can help you get closure. Lest you’d just be waiting around for a long time.
Finding your first programming job can be tasking. You may feel dejected and stressed. But being patient is the key. It would be a mistake to settle for something you may not really want just for the sake of having a job. Keep negotiating and applying to as many companies until you get to a place where you really want to be.
It is, however, better to choose the right company and the right profile first. You can always grow in the job if you know you are in the right place.
And to find the perfect first programming job for yourself, you can try Workship– a recruitment platform for techies by techies.