Help! Discover How to Land a Software Engineer Position in 5 Easy Steps

Help! How to Get Hired in Software in 5 Easy Steps

While whispers of layoffs might be making the rounds, don’t be fooled‚ÄĒthe software developer job market is still hot. You may have to work a little harder to land a software engineer position. And the days of extravagant office perks (oh, those free massages!) might be long gone. But today’s developers are hardly missing out. With the perks of remote work, the allure of unlimited PTO, and opportunities to work on cutting-edge tech projects, it‚Äôs still a great time to be a developer.

Hold on a minute! You’re a software developer, aren’t you? Whether you polished your skills in the halls of academia or just tinkered around on lazy Sundays, you’ve got the goods. Yet, while others are seemingly riding the tech wave, you’re here, sipping your coffee, pondering, “Now, how do I get in on that action?”

Here are some real-life steps you can take right now to get your career on the fast track and land the software engineer position of your dreams in today’s hot tech market.

#1 – Start or Join a Project

You already learned to code, or you’re in the process of learning right now. As you’ll see in my article about hiring developers, I encourage business owners to hire developers who are passionate about what they do. My dirty little secret? I would write software for the rest of my life,¬†even if no one ever paid me another dime. If you’re truly passionate about writing software, then you feel the same way, so why aren’t you actually writing software?

Too many people think they need to have some big, complex project — or, someone else assigning them tasks. Trust me, when you find a software engineer position and they’re assigning you tasks all day you’ll wish you had weeks of freedom to do whatever you want. Take advantage of that now!¬†

#2 – Initiating a Creative Project

Have you had a business idea that you have thought of for years, and never got started on it? While you’re looking for a software engineer position, give it a try! Think about existing products that you’d like to make “suck less” and just go for it. This is the best stage in the world to be in, you can’t fail! Challenge Google’s dominance in the search engine market. It’s not necessarily¬†about how well it works, it’s more about what you learn in the process.

Interested in the Internet of Things? Take a dive into the¬†Beaglebone Black¬†for $60-75. This is a computer that fits inside an Altoids¬†case. If you can’t think of something interesting to do with that, just go be a chef! (Ok, or you can go to the¬†Capes page, which will give you enough add-ons that you can create your own chef!)

The path couldn’t be easier for those wanting to do app development. Walk to your local grocery store and you’re likely to hear 3 new app ideas. Go create them. You aren’t worried about success or failure, you’re looking for a way to give yourself a focused purpose that lets you explore some aspect of computer science for its learning experience. If it works so well that you’re making thousands per day in the app store, then you’ve found your software engineer position and can even start hiring others!

There are a thousand terrible web apps waiting to be improved. Write a time tracker, or create a catalog for your favorite collectibles. There are a lot of existing APIs with tons of data that you can use.

#3 – When You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with a new project, but you just need to dig in and do something. There are plenty of open-source projects that are looking for developers. This is an easy one for me because if I had free time I would pick up about a dozen of these projects myself. Content Management Systems like Drupal or WordPress have lots of Open-source modules that are in desperate need of your coding skills.

Enjoy doing 3D work, how about jumping in to help a great resource called¬†Blender. They even have¬†a page to help new developers get started. Looking for more engineering-type problems to solve, go find a Linux kernel driver that is getting a lot of complaints online or a device you own yourself that’s having issues. When you interview for a software engineer position, they are going to ask you what you’ve been working on! Dig into a project so you have something to show them.

#4 – Line Up the Resources

Web Developers – Setup an Amazon EC2 cloud instance under the free tier. Or find a cheap hosting solution. You don’t care about bandwidth right now, you just need SSH access and a couple of gigabytes to start your project. 

If you’re thinking about IoT, but need something a little easier than the BeagleBone Black, then take a look at the wide range of awesome¬†Raspberry Pi¬†computers. The coding language is a little simpler, but if you’re more mechanical engineer than software engineer, there are a lot of hardware extensions that will let you experiment. You can even search the Internet for other ideas and try to recreate them. Remember, it’s all about prepping you for a software engineer position, so your idea doesn’t have to be¬†unique, the world over.

Whether your code is for web, Windows, Linux, mobile, or something completely different, there are some great common places to host your source code. GitHub is probably chief among them, if for no other reason than that they’re popular and employers will know how to find your code there easily. It’s free to host Open source projects, and if you want employers to see your code then it should be Open-source anyway. Besides helping present your source code, GitHub will help you learn how to revise your source code with a tool called git. One more notch to add to your resume and one more skill that will be uber helpful to your new employer.

#5 – Don’t Wait to Land a Software Engineer Position – Be Proactive!

This I can’t stress enough. Even if you can’t do anything else, set up a profile on Upwork, or one of the other software freelance sites. It will take some work to set up a profile, but show future employers that you have initiative. In fact, you might even find your future employer after you’ve worked a few jobs for them online first. It’s not uncommon to get hired into a company on a job that first started out as a simple freelancer position.

Another basic way to get started is to begin reading the topics on StackOverflow. There are some really brilliant people who are active on that site and you can learn a lot of insight about your language or platform just by reading the questions and answers of others. In fact, you might even run into a few questions that give you some ideas for what project you can start.

When you get started with these things online, focus less on the money and more on getting some experience. The biggest part of all of this is that you’re working on real projects and that’s really valuable to an employer and is going to help you land a software engineer position. When employers see that you’re so passionate about software that you’re doing it on your own, your resume will start to turn heads. But by that time, you may have already accidentally started your own billion-dollar enterprise.

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